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Soapbox scooter

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Marty returns his "board with wheels" to the scooter kids.

"As they [Marty and George] turned and headed toward the local teen hangout [Lou's Cafe], two kids on homemade scooters — roller skates nailed to a two-by-four with an orange crate on top — rattled past them. Marty smiled at the crude prototypes of the sleeker and speedier skateboards that would come later."
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 171 and 172)
" Marty, smiling in acknowledgment of the victory [over Biff and his gang], looked around for the youngster whose scooter he had used. / "Thanks a lot, kid," he said, returning the skateboard with a flourish. "I'm sorry I messed it up for you." / "Are you kidding?" the youngster laughed. "Thanks a lot!" / He immediately hopped on his new vehicle and began trying it out. As the crowd slowly started to disperse, it could be seen that the other youngster was in the process of removing the orange crate from his scooter so that he could have a skateboard like that of his friend. "
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 180)

A soapbox scooter was a motorless homemade vehicle ridden by young children in 1955, which was made by nailing roller skate wheels to a two-by-four piece of wood with a wooden crate mounted on top. Flattened foil pie dishes would sometimes be stuck on the front of the scooter for headlights.

History

Two young boys were playing on soapbox scooters in Courthouse Square while, in Lou's Cafe, George McFly attempted to ask Lorraine Baines to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. When Biff Tannen entered and started harassing George, Marty McFly was furious that George's chance had been ruined and tripped up Biff. This led to Marty running out of the cafe with Biff and his gang in pursuit, and borrowing one of the scooters, pulling off the crate to create a makeshift skateboard. Using this "board with wheels", as one of Lorraine's classmates referred to it, Marty managed to outsmart and outmaneuver Biff's gang, who were chasing him around the square in Biff's car and who eventually ended up running into a manure truck — causing the car (and its occupants) to end up covered in manure.

None of the crowd watching the chase had seen a skateboard before and wondered what it was, as such things would not be sold in stores until the early 1960s. Although Marty didn't know it at the time, he'd given history a push in the right direction!

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