When I was twelve I built a soapbox and entered the Kosciusko County Soapbox Derby. The carapace was black oilcloth. No trophy for me though, and no picture of me on the next day's Times-Union being cheek-kissed by that summer's Mermaid Festival Queen -- for I didn't win even my first heat. Also I didn't quite build it myself -- although the rules stipulated that the entrants had to build the soapboxes themselves, I wasn't anywhere near done and it was the night before the race. Two guys in their twenties named Mervin Wagner and Jerry Kralis helped me finish it at the Kralis Brothers Poultry Plant, which was about four miles north of town, and which was my sponsor. Guess I threw rules-following away early.