Garage Go-Karts and Revivals

Mobil Oil moved us to Saginaw. We left Freddie, Gary, Mary Janeane and the beautiful Lundeed girls in Redford. Turd was a distant memory.

Why it took twenty-four hours for the Mayflower truck to go seventy miles was a mystery. We spent the night at the Ron & Rick Motel on Hess Street. We swam in the pool and I watched two boys drive a go-kart around the yard. I assumed they were Ron and Rick.

I was nervous and jealous about school starting the next day. My older brother didn’t have to go for another week because the brand new Mackinaw Middle School wasn’t finished.

Countryside Park Subdivision, right across the street from my Weiss Elementary, was brand new. Very few houses had trees, our new home didn’t even have grass.

The two-story cape cod was the biggest house I had ever seen. Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, kitchen-dining room, and a huge basement. The small garage was the site of projects, productions, and mischief.

I grew up with lots of neighborhood kids. Sometimes we were close confidants. Sometimes sworn enemies.

Every neighborhood has a focus house, the one where every kid wants to live. All the funnest stuff starts at that house. The cool kids from other neighborhoods come there. The kids next door were the luckiest. There’s was the focus house. Their built-in swimming pool guaranteed it.

Claiming cool is an important part of neighborhood kid life. Clubs are the way to include members, exclude nons. Clubs define cool.

Our garage was the headquarters of my three member go-kart club. Our plan was to build a go-kart to rule the streets. The enemy club was next door. Their go-kart might have wheels, but it couldn’t compare with ours. For secrecy, I covered the garage windows with construction paper.

When the kart was finished, it weighed two hundred pounds. The chassis was 2 x 6 boards. The frame was 2 x 3’s. The body was plywood. Behind the seat was a trunk with a hinged cover. The back wheels were from an old wagon, the front from a baby stroller. The axles were nails. The steering was a rope tied to both ends of a 2 x 4 held in place with a bolt and washers.

The day of the big race finally came. The enemy club rolled out their go-kart. We pushed our pastel blue square hot rod out into the street.

Our teams lined the karts up evenly. We jeered and taunted, dared and insulted.

“On your mark! Get set! Go!!”

Enemy club members cheered and pushed the karts.

After ten feet, my left front wheel collapsed. The four nails folded like chewed Bazooka Bubble Gum. I pulled hard on the left rope and slammed into the side of the enemy club kart. Race over. Accusations and more insults. No cussing though. We weren’t allowed to cuss in the neighboord.

Our club kart sat beside the garage until the weather took the final toll.

The garage was a great kid theatre. We created a show to present so we could raise money for our next adventure. We hung a sheet for a stage curtain and put colored paper around a heat lamp for a spot light.

After several rehearsals, we opened the doors and welcomed the public. We were excited to see all nine chairs filled.

Our spot light nearly caught fire when the heatlamp turned the paper to cinders. No problem. Every show has its challenges.

The highlight was my rendition of “Wipe Out” I played on my electric Decca guitar I bought at Yankee’s for $24.00. Our drum kit was a table turned upside down with coffee cans on the legs for cymbals.

Our final number was “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” My sister started crying because she thought we were going to have an altar call.

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