Gpa Tales

Roman Chariots and Radio Flyer Wagons

    As boys we developed a mock of the Roman Chariot using an old red radio flyer wagon similar to the picture. Our wagon was much older, and the handle had been broken off leaving just a straight tongue. Thus it was very hard to pull some one in the wagon by hand, but we got a rope and hooked it around the tongue which was held by the driver in the wagon. Thus the wagon was pulled down the street by some one pulling on the rope. The riders in the wagon would then steer or drive the wagon by turning the tongue from left to right much like the rudder on a boat, except this rudder was at the front of the wagon. If you wanted to stop you just let go of the tongue and the rope slipped off and the wagon coasted to a stop.

It was hard work pulling the wagon by hand so soon we substituted a rider and horse for the driving force. The horseman would loop one end of the lariat around the saddle horn and the other to the wagon tongue. Now we could really go! We had a horse powered Radio Flyer Red Wagon. The only problem was riding around town we were not supposed to run the horse on the road, and the wagon worked best on the paved roads. We really wanted to get the wagon going fast so we went up to the race track. I was the first to try out this new mode of transportation. Dick Spencer was in the saddle and I in the Red Radio Flyer Chariot, and we were on the race track. As we started out with me driving it was exciting; now we could go as fast as we wanted. There was one problem: the horse was throwing sand in my face and without goggles I couldn't see. Soon I had sand every where, in my lap, in my shirt, in my mouth and worst of all in my eyes. Things were not going as I had planned. I opened my mouth to holler stop and got more sand in my mouth. Hollering stop, just made Dick go faster and laugh louder. I finally gave up and let go of the tongue to stop the wagon. Things quickly went from bad to worse. The tongue, instead of sliding along like it did on the pavement, dug into the track stopping the wagon instantly. The wagon instantly became the Red Radio Flyer Catapult, throwing me through the air. I landed head first into the sandy race track. I didn't think that I could get more sand in my face, but I did. After I got home that was my last ride in the Red Radio Flyer Chariot/Catapult.