Soap Box Derby used to be be big, both nationally and in North Carolina. Today the derby apparently survives in the state only in Morganton, where it has its own track at the Burke County Fairgrounds under the sponsorship of the Morganton Optimist Club.
Newspaper archives offer a look back at the race’s glory days in Raleigh and in Charlotte.
In 1970 a Durham contestant won the national championship. Less illustriously, a 1993 champion from Huntersville — perhaps influenced by the local culture? — was stripped of his title for using unapproved materials.
On this day in 1918: Future senator Sam Ervin, in infantry training, writing his “Dearest Mamma” in Morganton:
“Today is Mother’s Day, and according to orders from General Pershing it is to be most fittingly observed by each member of the Amixforce [American Expeditionary Forces] writing a letter to his mother. No order heretofore given has, in my humble opinion, contained so vast a store of true wisdom….
“My hope and prayer is that I may be spared to come back in honor and safety in order that I may repay a small part of the great debt that I owe to you. No one can be under a greater obligation than I, for my mother is the most beautiful and self-sacrificing mother in the world.”
— Revisiting the one-drop rule.
— Lost and found: Minor-league pitcher’s championship ring.
— Train station turned garage… turned train station?
— “In writing workshops I often see people trying to write Southern accents…. It should be done sparingly and only if…”
— R.I.P., Billy Joe Patton, last of the red-hot amateurs.