Hadn't been to the county fair in many a year, but this year I conned the wife into entering three of her quilts. My wife has been making quilts for years; makes them and gives them away or puts them away on the shelf and saves them for a gift to a special someone.
Got tired of sitting and working crosswords, so I just took a little walk around the Midway to see what a Carnival had these days; boy I remember as a boy going every time one came to the nearest town. First off I splurged and bought me a cup of coffee and then I just wandered around. It was not busy yet; heck most things had not opened because it was only nine in the morning. I looked at all of these wild rides and remembered the time Fred and I went to the Carnival, and it was early so we were talking to the guy who ran the swings. Anyway we bought a ticket and he let us ride until more customers came. Man I got off that thing and was so sick, I crawled under a platform and took a nap.
I heard that music, the Carousel music and I turned left toward the source of the sound. I stopped, I could not believe it for there in the middle of this carnival, all of the dirt and squalor was this magnificent Carousel, going around, and with the music playing. I walked closer and just stood there slack-jawed, as it was clean, shiny, polished and looked like it had just come from a picture.
I was smiling and grinning as this older man was checking each horse, slowly wiping it with a soft cotton rag, running his hands over it to make sure there were no splinters or rough spots. After about a half dozen rounds he stopped the machine and came toward me.
"Hey, you seem to be in dreamland, a beauty isn't she," he asked in a German accent.
"This is beautiful, is it new? It looks like you just set it up for the first time," I replied, glad to have someone to chat with.
He laughed and hollered something in German to the other side. "Oh no, my dad set this up when I was just a young shaver, too young to go to school," he replied. Then he grinned. "Back when we wore short breeches and went barefoot," he said with a laugh.
"I haven't been to a Carnival in years, only reason I am up here now is my wife entered some quilts in the fair." I walked over and looked at one horse. "These things always fascinated me, first because all ages like them and secondly, as to why they do?"
"Lars, your coffee is ready," a woman's voice yelled from behind the ride. "Want a cup for your friend?" she asked.
"Ya, ya, yes please, Mother," he yelled back.
I had just finished this large cup and he was going to offer me another? Boy would I be in trouble for the closest facility was back over behind the rides.
Soon, this older lady came walking around with two large mugs of steaming coffee. "Hi, hope you like it black; isn't she a beauty, this old girl is three years older than I," she said as she handed me the mug.
The two conversed in German for a couple minutes then the man looked at me. "When was the last time you rode the Carousel?"
I laughed, “Long time, but it was May of 1953, in Bedford. I was with a city girl and she wanted to ride so we rode it four times, and I got the brass ring three times. Fell off the fourth,” I said. I could see that night as if it were yesterday.
“Come on, lets sit and ride, come on,” the man said. We walked over and climbed aboard.
The lady turned it on and the man and I sat in the buggy and listened to the music as it went round and round, lights flashing, music playing. I was taken back over a half-century to my youth. It seemed like we rode for a long time when it slowed down and stopped. We got off and I gave the man the mug.
“Thank you, I won’t forget this day and this magnificent Carousel for many years,” I said. A large fat man with a clip board approached and the operator had to go to work. I waved thanks to his wife and slowly wandered back toward the contest area with nostalgia swimming around in my head. When I got back, the judging was over and my wife had won two third-place ribbons. The first and second winning quilts were old, dirty and not half as nice as my wife’s.
My wife was let down, but as she started to fold them up to put in the plastic bags, two ladies walked up. “Did you do these?” one lady asked.
“Yes, I did these three last winter. Planned to give them to my grandsons, but he,” she nodded toward me, “Conned me into entering them.”
“May I see them again?” the lady asked. She looked them over carefully. “I will give you four hundred dollars each for these two,” she said.
The taller woman who had said nothing turned to the wife said, “I will give you fifteen hundred for the three."
My jaw dropped and my wife shrugged. “This lady asked first,” she said to the second lady.
The taller woman shook her head. “I will give you seventeen-hundred-fifty dollars for the three and she and I will work a deal for one of them.” She opened a large ornate leather purse.
The first lady looked at my wife. “That is fine Honey. Ethel has more money than she has brains anyhow.” She looked at the taller lady. “Heck that will give us something to argue about on our way back to Texas.”
My wife put the three quilts in large plastic garbage bags and tied the tops. “You sure you want to do this?” she asked.
“Yes,” the tall woman replied, and she pulled out a wad of bills from which she counted out seventeen one-hundreds. She found her wallet and handed the wife a fifty. “Honey, would you write your name and address on this paper so I can stay in contact? Maybe I will want you to make me a couple custom ones; I like your work.”
The two women took their wares and left. As we walked back to the car my wife just shook her head. “Guess third place wasn’t so bad afterall.” Then she stopped. “What did you do? Go for a ride on the merry go round?” She laughed and we headed home.