Friday, May 29

Lothair Showgrounds

Come on, Kathleen and Joyce, let's go up to Birch Rock and look out over Lothair where we can watch them set up the carnival. I know it's carnival time 'cause I watched the loaded trucks full of rides going past Gene Baker's headed for one place and one place only, Lothair. We had another good place to watch the carnival set up and then also go in the evening and watch the people coming and going, which was a path above the tunnel in Woodland Park which led us to what we called the "lookout".

We did not have a vehicle so we walked or stayed at home. Now, when the carnival was in town, my Dad would gather us all up and we had two choices, to head up the highway leading past the water plant, past the Dipsy Doodle, the power company property and then onto the carnival grounds; or cross over the Woodland Park Bridge, go into the deep, dark cavern which we called "the Tunnel", the train tracks were tricky in the dark and the water dripping from the top of the tunnel made it even eerier. Dad had the flashlight and we all held hands and stayed as close to one another as possible. It wasn't that long of a trek but to us youngans it seemed like eternity before we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and we would find ourselves on the bridge leading across the river and then to the carnival grounds.

Most of the time we chose the tunnel because we didn't have to bother with the cars on the highway. We couldn't wait to get our sandals full of sawdust, walk around the midway first just to see what was there, what was added from the year before, and really to check out the boys working running the rides. Some were dudes and then some were toothless and looked to be forty when in real they were a little past the teen years and just dirty.

The rides were awesome; the swings were fun to ride because they would swing out over the crowds watching below and we would holler and whoop like we were scared stiff when we were just having the time of our lives. When we rode the ferris wheel, we could look out over Lothair and be able to see the crowds coming and going, and sometimes used it for "spotting", our word for looking for a feller. I couldn't do the feller thing cause Daddy was always lurking somewhere making sure I stayed in line. His main thing was to toss coins in dishes and we would come home loaded with carnival glass which today is a treasure. I had more cupie dolls and the little celluloid ones with the feathers were my favorite. I had them all over the bedroom. Just wish I had kept one!!!

Daddy would line us all up and we would go through the "Crazy House" screaming and shrieking all the way through; there were so many games to play to win little trinkets and such and the "hawkers" sure had their way of getting your attention when you passed by their booth. "Idy, come on now, you don't need that trash, you've spent enough money on junk." Whew!!! how I hated to hear those words cause I knew it was almost time to call it a night and head back to Big Bottom. We rode the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Swings and the Ferris Wheel but I never ventured to try any of the others, like the Air-0-plane that turned you upside down, Gosh!!!

Now, before I close this memory out I have to tell about shaking Daddy long enough to watch the girlie shows and wondered what it would be like to go inside one of the tents. My worst memory of my carnival days I have to tell here is when I was co-erced into trying to slip in one of the tents that was for adults only, and the word around the grounds was that it showed one's anatomy up close and personal. I was almost a teen then and I figured if I can slip in I will. A friend and myself decided it was time to see what was going on inside that tent that caused such a stir and the lines were long. We had watched the young boys slipping in under the tents around the carnival for years so I thought if they can, I can. I was such a tom boy, but I found my chance and under the tent I slid. I found inside a partition where men were on one side and women on the other, but saw nothing...YET!!! Then the show started and I was about to see what all the commotion was about when I felt a big hand on my shoulder and I turned around and there was Daddy, no smile on his face, but chagrin really, he yanked me up and dragged me out of that tent so fast it made my head swim. I won't go into the punishment for that little idea I had but it turned out the kid I had with me, turned me into Dad, and died laughing the rest of our lives. I not only had sawdust in my sandals but in my shorts as well. I almost seen what I didn't see...hee hee hee. Years later I found out what I missed, and I can say I am glad I did.

Time to start back to Big Bottom, shaking the sawdust and laughing as we headed down the highway (the way we went back) and we stepped to the music from the merry-go-round almost all the way home. A good time was had by all. Another night at the carnival? Maybe, if'n I was good.

1 comment:

  1. Carlene ShackelfordMay 29, 2009 at 9:28 PM

    I, too enjoyed the carnivals at Lothair. The rides were so exciting. I even loved the sawdust. We lived pretty close to the carnival so we got to hear it even if we were not there. One time I went feeling guilty because our preacher said the carnival was a den of iniquity. I figured he meant sinful, but I went anyway and remember having a ball. We did not have a lot of money to spend, but the atmosphere was free. I think I remember getting a dollar to spend. It was more fun than King's Island is today. Try getting anything at King's Island for a dollar. I mainly remember the trapeze artists. That was very exciting. They had on little short outfits, maybe that was what was sinful. I would not even enjoy the carnival now, so I am thankful I got to enjoy it when I was a girl. Thanks to Ida Lee for bringing back an old memory.