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CARNIVAL WORKER

Fall is here and all of the things that go along with my favorite season - pumpkins, colorful leaves, apple picking, mugs of soup, and cozy fires. Of course, you can’t forget the local fairs and festivals. In almost every small town across America, you can pay your entrance fee and walk the midway with a candied apple and a corn dog while listening to music play on the carousel and thrill rides. It always reminds me of my first job.


Although I’m not sure exactly what year it was, my best guess would be the fall of 1974. It was October and I had just turned 14. I was about two years into a serious rebellious phase and dreamed of hitchhiking across the country with my best friend. We had mapped out our route and knew highway 80 winded its way to the West Coast. That was our plan.


My mom dropped me off early Saturday afternoon at the Ogeechee Fairgrounds in Statesboro, Georgia and I assured her it would be easy to catch a ride home when the fair closed since a lot of my friends were meeting up there. My first stop was to pet every animal in the barn. I would imagine they all belonged to me and I promised them they would never be abused or go to slaughter.


As I exited the barn, I began to stroll along watching as people played the familiar games. They were shooting water guns at clown faces, throwing darts at balloons, and picking up rubber duckies to reveal a numbered prize on the bottom. Kids were laughing with their parents and young men were spending a fortune to nab that giant stuffed animal for their dates. It was the start of a magical night and all was right with the world. That’s when I saw him for the first time.


He looked to be about 17 and had long brown hair covering his eyes. He was tall and thin and had a quirky smile. His clothes looked dirty and tattered but that only added to his charm. We locked eyes and smiled at each other as I slowly walked towards him. Without saying a word, I reached in my pocket and pulled out a dollar bill. He gave me 10 dimes in return and I began tossing them one at a time towards the beautiful glass plates and bowls scattered around a giant table in the center of the booth. Did I mention he was working the booth? As I spent enough money to buy a set of dishes, we started talking. He told me he had worked with the fair for years and loved the nomadic lifestyle without having to put down roots. As he talked, I was falling in love. Then he popped the question.


“Would you like to work the booth with me?” Well, hell yes I would. And just like that, I had my first job - working the ‘toss the dime’ booth at the fair. He handed me my very own apron and explained the very simple game rules - if someone lands their dime in a dish you hand it to them and replace the empty spot on the table with a new dish. Then he opened the side door to the booth and I stepped in and began my short-lived career as a carnival worker. As people walked by I would shout “Come on over and throw a dime” and “Win a dish for your lady!” I’m not gonna lie, I really enjoyed that job. During the course of my employment, this young man and I discussed me leaving home and going on the road. He said I would never get bored and we would wake up in a new town every week. It sounded like the perfect opportunity and I told him I would ask my parents.


Time flew by that night and as the fair closed and the crowds made their way to the exits, I handed him my apron filled with crumpled up dollar bills and weighted down with dimes. After a moment of basking in my accomplishment, I suddenly realized I had never met up with my friends and didn’t have a ride home. My knight in shining armor came to the rescue and offered to give me a ride which I gratefully accepted.


As we drove to my house in his beat up old truck, I assured him I would be back in the morning to help pack up and get on the road to the next town. Then he dropped me off and just like that, he was gone. I’ll never forget the next morning telling my parents about my job and my plans to travel with the carnival. They sat in total silence as I rambled on and on. Although I can’t remember exactly what my dad said when I was done, I’m pretty sure it was something like, “Carol Lind, if that’s what you decide you want to do in the future, I’ll be happy with that if you do the best job you can. In the meantime though, you will stay here and you will finish high school.” Then I went on with my day.


The folks I met that night were some of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. They were honest and extremely hard workers. That life can’t be an easy one and I admire them all. Thanks for bringing fall to us in such colorful fashion!



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claudevtaylor
claudevtaylor
2021年11月07日

That's just awesome a true romanticist!

In Albany one year the Southwest GA Fair folks were hiring "lumpers" aka laborers to help close the big show down and the paid CA$H! It involved dragging heavy cables all night from point A to point B. Long story short by dawn I had never been so tired or dirty in my entire life. Dragging those giant electrical cables that have been laying on the ground for a week and let's don't forget that I had a whopping $60 to show for my toil. Lol

いいね!
Carol Lind
Carol Lind
2021年11月19日
返信先

So funny!!! We have some things in common for sure.

いいね!

marthakate
marthakate
2021年11月04日

Luv it! You really brought back some memories of when I was around 14 and my mother dropped me off at the carnival in out little town in south Georgia for my first “date”. It was sweet. To run away with the carnival was a dream I fancied too. And some guy friends of mine actually did it—young and free. They came home a year later strung out on speed with some wild stories. It wasn’t quite the dream I imagined. Thanks for the memories.

いいね!

mark0621
2021年11月04日

Can we all take a second to remember a time when a 14 year old girl, could climb into a truck with a carnival worker and get home safely? 😍Good ole days!

いいね!
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