Posts Tagged ‘carousels’

I can’t think of any I rode as a child, don’t have a mental picture of me on a horse, Dad with his pock-scarred young face standing beside me. Although as soon as I wrote that, I pictured him there, cut his image out of an old photo of him and me that I have in my mind, placed us on an old carousel instead of in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s old ranch house. Dad and me, my eyes smiling into slits the way they do in all the old photos. Dad, who I thought was so handsome with his perfect lips and dark eyes, if only his face hadn’t scarred. I remember he got it scraped back when “scraping” was the surgical method in vogue for problem skin such as his.

Merry-go-rounds, and I think of how much they seem to represent the ups and downs of life. Circular life, going round and round. Coming and going. Dad is 84, or is it 83?, I always forget. His back is so bad he can hardly walk, and right before my eyes he has become an old, old man. Up and down, several years of oscillating between old age and very old age, and now he’d require one of those benches on the carousel, the ones as a kid I always wondered why they bothered having.

And today is Dee’s birthday, she told me last night, “I don’t want to be 12.” “Twelve is fun,” I told her, and then when I held her in the dark she whispered, “I don’t want to change.” She’s never wanted to grow older, this daughter of mine, always somehow knew that growing older is a process, of life’s ups and downs, coming and going. She gets older, so do the rest of us, Dad moves on, makes way, she becomes a teenager, or on the cusp, everything changes, nothing stands still. She still sleeps with her stuffed horse, Mary Christmas, a horse that can stand up, like on a carousel, and I do remember me as a new mother standing beside Dee as she kicked her chubby legs, kicked them to signal Let’s go! Let’s go!, waiting for the man to finish taking people’s tickets and checking the kids’ straps before he went over to the controls and made the horses move.

Merry-go-rounds. One of the slower, more pleasant rides on the midway. Just like life, I tell you, they seem so mild they’re almost boring. While you’re on them you see almost everyone out on the hot pavement watching you. You see them smiling, mouth open, waving as you come around. Or stuck in thought, staring at the Ferris Wheel or nothing in particular. And before you know it, your turn is coming to an end, slowing down so much that you can feel what a dizzying experience it’s been after all.

from suggested Writing Practice in Nightshot – Carousel

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Carousel, MN State Fair, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Carousel, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 

Carousels have a rich history at the Minnesota State Fair. I snapped this as we were leaving the Fair grounds Friday night. I receive a great deal of joy from the vibrant color, gritty glitz, and gauzy glamour of the night lights and carnival atmosphere of walking the Fair after dark.

The daylight was fun, too, but it was hot, dusty, and humid. When night cooled the air, the antique buildings creaked with relief from the heat, the moon rose over the Grandstand, and the 300 plus acres were electric with energy. That was my favorite time to prowl.

The original Minnesota State Fair carousel was called Cafesjian’s Carousel. In 1914, Austin McFadden paid the Philadelphia Toboggan Company $8,500 to build it, transport it to St. Paul, and assemble it on the grounds of the Minnesota State Fair, where it ran for 74 years. You can read what happened next when a St. Paul couple decided to fight the good fight to preserve its history and heritage at Our Fair Carousel. 

As for the carousel pictured in this photograph, I was not able to find any history from my brief research tonight. Maybe my friend that works at the Fair will be able to shed some light.

I remember riding the carousels as a child when I visited amusement parks with my parents. I always felt like I was tall and powerful, sitting atop a jumper. The standers bored me, even as a kid. I wanted to be moving, moving, moving.

Here’s a writing topic – do a 10 minute writing practice about your memories of carousels, or merry-go-rounds as we called them in my family. You can learn more about carousels at the Merry-Go-Round Museum. Write everything you know about carousels – Go!

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick and MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats

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