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Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams: Memories of the All-American Soap Box Derby Hardcover – July 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Ohio History and Culture
  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Akron Press; 1st edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931968055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931968058
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,774,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Melanie Payne is an award-winning journalist and writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers nationwide. She has worked as a staff writer for the Akron Beacon Journal and The Sacramento Bee newspapers. A Cleveland, Ohio native, she currently lives in California with her husband Rodney Williams and their dog Doc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ed Myers on October 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was in Akron and Gil Klecan came into the room with a copy. I read a few pages and had to get the book.I have read it over several times.It is the best book I have ever read on the Derby.She did a lot of research to come up with a very true account.I have been in and out of the Derby since 1946. I know most of the people she mentions. Some of the stories I had heard off hand. I never have spoken with Ballard, Gronen, and Lunn.I knew of their experiences. She Filled in the missing spaces. I have spoken with quite a few of my old friends from the Derby and they all say the same thing."The book is better then they though". For someone who knew very little about the Derby she learned it fast.Had she written a fiction book on the Derby, I would not have taken it free. I raced in 1946,7,& 8. My children raced in the 70's My oldest son placed 3rd and holds the fastest time on the Akron Hill.
The chapter on The Durham Champions is superb. Sam Moore was an old friend, and a good one. Sam never told me the things he told Melanie. He was a real credit to Durham.
Gronen said,"My hat is off to the sincere and honest boys and girls who raced in the Soap Box Derby.I extend an apology to them." I take my hat off to HIM for HIS honesty.
The title Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams is the only title this book can have.
"Cheaters?" Yes, on both sides of the fence.
"Childhood Dreams?" Yes, I had them. My son made them come true. As an old SBD friend said,"Winning the local and going to Akron was like dying and going straight to heaven."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Esteemed Protector on February 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The soapbox derby.

Originating during the thirties, what had been a simple kids game would grow to gigantic proportions and come to symbolize America at its finest. Akron, Ohio would become the Mecca of the soapbox derby. Every summer hundreds of boys would gather to race against each other. Qualifing for the Akron race was a feat in itself, each participant already having won several other matches to qualify for the honor.

Winning the soapbox derby meant riches, fame, fortune, college scholarships, the moon! The sponsors were guaranteed popularity to the infinite power, it seemed everyone came out on top! Times would pass, though, and the soapbox derby would face problems. There were inevitable instances of racisim and sexism when African-American children and girls got involved. In the seventies the derby was nearly destroyed when a key sponser pulled out in 1972 and a cheating scandal occurred in 1973. Fortunately it came back, though, and, while not as popular as it once was, still has a definite following. The history of this sport, those involved, and the numerous persona, both good and bad, that made up the sport are covered in "Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams".

Melanie Payne has gone to great detail to describe the origins of soapbox derby racing and those responsible for it. We learn how it progressed from a simple kid's hobby to a father-son (and eventually father-daughter) bonding experience, how it grew and grew and grew. There are the noble stories of intergration of black youths, of girl drivers coming into their own.
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By A Customer on August 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a trip! "Champions and Cheaters" brought me memories of my childhood, those days when jumping into any garage-made contraption and rolling it downhill was a thrill. But there was more to Champions than the glide down memory lane. While America was changing, nudging girls and children of color into the mainstream, so was the Derby.
And it wasn't until I read this book that I realized that anyone could cheat in a soapbox derby. Imagine my surprise when I heard that it happened again this year.
I found especially poignant the author's interviews with race participants. It is powerful stuff. After so many years, the gut-wrenching disappointments and the jubilation over wins, obviously, are still potently felt by participants.
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Format: Hardcover
"A WARM AND REFRESHING LOOK AT THE WORLD'S GREATEST YOUTH EVENT... I SAVORED EVERY PAGE.. READING SOME PAGES TWICE TO MAKE IT LAST LONGER"
IT COVERS SOME STORIES FROM THE DERBY THAT I DIDN'T REALIZE HAPPENED.. SUCH AS THE LINE OF BLACK CHAMPS FROM DURHAM NORTH CAROLINA.. AND I HAVE BEEN A DERBY FAN FOR MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS.
Stan Howard
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Just curious...I wrote a review a week ago and it has yet to appear....?
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