1947 Soap Box Derby plaque sent to winner

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Howard Geringer will soon recieve the plaque he won at a soap box derby in 1947 (Submitted photo)

A plaque awarded to the 1947 winner of the Soap Box Derby in Cape Girardeau recently was mailed to president-elect Lowell Peterson of the Cape Girardeau Rotary Club. Dorie Wilson, the Oregon woman who found the plaque in a chest purchased at an auction, had tried unsuccessfully to locate Howard Geringer, whose name was engraved on the plaque.

Peterson eventually found Geringer in Bakersfield, Calif. The Soap Box Derby winner soon will be getting his plaque back.

Thirty-one racers ages 8 to 17 will roll down the hill on North Sprigg Street near Blanchard Elementary School at 9 a.m. Saturday. This is the 8th annual race Rotary Club 448 of Cape Girardeau has sponsored, though the event began long before in Cape Girardeau.

Bud Estes, 83, of Cape Girardeau raced in the first local Soap Box Derby in 1936. He said back then the cars were constructed out of scrap material. He made his car out of leftover wood from his front porch, old crates and the wheels off an air compressor. Now the soap box cars are made from a kit from the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. But interest from racers is the same.

"We started the tradition back up in Cape Girardeau to preserve small-town Americana," said Jeff Long, a member of the Rotary Club's board of directors. "It's a tie-in to the past."

Estes was a spectator at last year's race. "If I was a kid, I'd like to be in the race again," he said.

Geringer, born in Cape Girardeau in 1932, remembered winning the local race and said he went on to participate in the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, where, according to his recollection, he "only lost by a hair."

"I don't know how much longer I'll be hanging around this old world, but I sure would like that doggone trophy hanging on my wall," Geringer said, laughing.

tkrakowiak@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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