Fond Memories of Derby Hill

derby hill in derby maine Growing up in the 1950’s with an appreciation of the simple things in nature brings back fond memories of Derby Hill in Derby, Maine.

The photo shown was taken in 2011 with a view looking south from the top of Derby Hill, and at the bottom of the hill you can see one of two 4 way intersections in our small town.

What made Derby Hill so special was not apparent during my childhood. It was always there. Looking back, one realizes the wealth of enjoyment that hill provided year round.

On the left, and from the foot of the hill to the first house, was a large field half way up the hill. In summer, we played ball there. In winter, we rode sleds or toboggans.

On one occasion, the opportunity came up to ride a homemade soapbox car from the top. Built by the Hogan boys, that streamlined machine was a beauty and as nice as any in the national soapbox races.

However, the distance and estimated top speed would be at least twice a normal race. Out of a half dozen or more teenage boys, my older brother was the only volunteer willing to drive.

Guards were posted at the intersection to stop traffic in the unlikely event cars came along. Cars aside, this was still an extreme and dangerous ride.

To left was a deep ditch from top to bottom. On the right were light poles, mailboxes, and trees.

Long story short: He almost made it half way. Nearing top speed the steering became a problem as my brother adjusted to keep a straight line. The soapbox car fishtailed slightly as the rear end zigged and zagged just enough to lose control.

As the homemade soapbox car left the street hitting the grass on Perry’s lawn, car and driver flipped sideways turning over and over several times. Both survived.

Though the car was salvaged and repaired, the challenge of conquering Derby Hill was a one time event.

In winter, however, we did create a sled trail the full length of Derby Hill along the 30 foot easement clearing between the woods and backs of the homes. That we rode from the top to bottom all they way to the schoolyard of the Derby Grammar School.

Ayuh. Derby Hill was a gift of nature. Fun back then. Fond memories and more appreciated now.

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