Fifty Cent Memories

Sitting on the back steps, I could hear the music, and when it got dark, I could see the lights.  Actually, I could see their glow in the sky above the trees.  To a little boy, it was a magical time of year.  The carnival had come to town, and with it came a sense of excitement and, as I remember, a sense of longing.
It was only a weekend thing, set up on Friday and gone by Sunday.  I would spend all day Friday watching them set up the rides, and the tents.  The fair was held in the parking lot, right behind the town hall.  There was always a row of tents to hold the games of chance, the food booths.  Of course, there was also the obligatory Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go- Round as well as other rides like the Octopus and the Tilt-A-Whirl (my favorite), and an assortment of kiddy rides.  I would stay all day, until I knew I had to be home for supper. And that is how I came to be  found, sitting on our back steps on Friday night,  longing to go, but without a nickel to my name.  Sometimes being eight or nine was tough.
Saturday was even worse.  This was the big day and I think most everyone in town was at the fair, except me.  Money was tight and extras were kind of hard to come by.  But the plight of a little boy, sitting on the back steps was even to much for my cash strapped parents.  Usually, by early afternoon, somehow they would find an extra fifty cents.  With a stern warning not to waste it all on the games, I was off like a shot, a kid on a mission.
Upon arrival, I would do a lot of walking around, surveying my surroundings, and basking in the atmosphere.  All the sights, sounds and smells blending to create a childhood Xanadu, the coins weighing heavy in my pocket.  Suddenly, I became very frugal, wanting to experience the rides and taste the cotton candy, but also, wanting to make my money last.  However, after one ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl and a hot dog, I loosened up a little.  The afternoon always lasted longer then my money, but it didn’t matter.  I was where I wanted to be.  It was carnival and I was part of it.
I found myself wondering the other day if they even still had one every year, so I looked it up on the web, and sure enough, they do.  I saw some pictures and have to admit, it looked a lot different, what with shiny, bright colored rides I had never seen before, and laser light shows.  But I am sure more then that has changed.  In today’s environment, I imagine that the simple pleasures of scaring yourself by rocking the car on a Ferris Wheel ride, or the melodic music of a Merry-Go-Round doesn’t hold the same sense of excitement that they did back then.
I think if I were to go back today, it would probably be a bitter sweet encounter.  I would be a stranger in the familiar.  Trying to recapture a piece of my youth, or even rekindle a little of the joy I experienced, would be fruitless.  Some things are better left alone I guess.  I’ll never be that boy again, but I sure did buy a lot of memories with my fifty cents.

Originally published June 2014


About oldmainer

I am retired and live in southern Maine with my wife and two dogs of questionable origin. I created this blog as an outlet for my occasional opinions and random observations since my wife is tired of hearing them and, after 50 some odd years, probably with good reason. I appreciate your checking me out and hope that you find something that will encourage a return visit. Thanks for stopping by.
This entry was posted in Children, Memories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s