The real and only reason that I stuck with Cub Scouts was for that one single event every year. The Pinewood Derby! This was an event where you would buy a kit that included a wood block, a small lead weight, 4 wheels and small axel rods. You had to carve the car into a shape you wanted, put the weight somewhere in the body cavity, paint it and then put the wheels on it. On Derby night all of the “packs” would get together in a central location and each would race their car Vs. another Scout one by one until they had champions. Because as a kid I was into real racing and always raced my matchbox cars at home, this event was custom made for me. The Scout Masters took the Derby very seriously, every car had to be weighed and measured to ensure that no one was taking an unfair advantage. And believe me there were a ton of cars eliminated before the festivities even started – some kids (i.e. their Dad’s) would use their own wood that was an 1/32 of an inch longer than permitted or some would use an extra tenth of an oz. of lead in their weight – but they caught it all. Some kids would have a fancy cut out shape way different than the standard and now they even sell kits that way. My cars I always cut (despite my knife incident, I was better with a saw) and always the standard shape that was in the instructions. Then I would paint it – most of the time black and orange with the number 01 like the General Lee (yeehaw!!).
The first couple of years I sucked – standard blah car, one or two wins but then I would get eliminated. I was always intimidated by the older kids and their badass looking cars. Cool cuts, cool paint, some would even paint the wheels or carve out windows. Mine was just a block with a bad paint job usually done with my Mom’s nail polish and wall paint. Then I had my year. It was in my face – I had the attitude, the eye of the tiger. I split the lead weight in half and put some in the front of the car and some at the rear on the bottom of the car. I guess that made the difference because I came in 3rd overall (out of like 100 or so Scouts) and I was pumped. My prize was a cake that someone’s mom made with blue and yellow frosting in Cub Scout colors and a small trophy. I went home and ate the biggest piece of that cake that I could stuff in my face.
That night my Mom and Bruce played some cards with the neighbors and they always played in either their kitchen or ours and they always left the back doors open. The kitchens were about 20 feet apart through the hallway. We both had dogs, our was a beagle named Bandit and the neighbors had a big brown dog and I forget it’s name. Scruffy or something like that. I think that night was the neighbors turn to host the game. When I woke up on the morning and went to check on my cake it was almost all gone, eaten by a dog. I cried like hell because 1 – I love cake and 2 – that was my prize after years of hard racing and putting up with Cub Scouts that I really didn’t care about other than that Pinewood Derby. Bruce took Bandit out back and I don’t know what happened but about a week later he told the neighbor what had happened and he said “no wonder Scruffy’s been shitting green for a week!”. Poor Bandit.