Friday, September 20, 2013

The Carnival Series ~ Chapter I: How it all started.....

Blinking lights, roaring coasters, men calling out - Guess your weight! Guess your age! and the smells.......ohhhhh the smells!  Buttery, caramel popcorn.....sweet, freshly spun cotton french fries.........funnel cakes........oh my!  Sounds of laughter, mixed in with happy shrieks, all a part of the carnival experience.  In this series I will write about my travels with the carnival, the good, the bad - both fall seasons I spent with this huge family of sorts.  But we must start at the very beginning.

The first summer I lived in Ocean City, Maryland I met JB.  Dirty blonde hair, early forties, bright eyes, great laugh and reminded me of a surfer.  He owned the Wax Hands on The Pier.  I met so many friendly people from all over on The Pier, full of games, rides and food!  That summer I learned how to Cover the Red Circle, Stand up the Bottle, Climb the Rope Ladder and found out the best way to Shoot Out the Star.  Anyway, fall was approaching and JB, after finding out my boyfriend also worked on The Pier, asked us to accompany him home and do some carnivals.   We agreed.  Another employee named Kara joined us, she helped with Wax Hands too.  She was different, enjoyed being the center of attention, had various tattoos and body piercings and was very outgoing, outspoken at times and fun.  One particular piercing or body modification that she was particularly proud of, but disturbed me, was barbells that were inserted in two rows down her spine.  She would "lace" them with ribbon....not my cup of tea.  I should also mention that we both wound up in a fist fight at one point, the only fist fight I have ever been in my entire life - more on that later.

That fall we headed to JB's house on the river in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  He had a wife and three kids - ages seven to two.  There we built new games called Monster Paintball and Gone Fishing. Monster paintball was monster heads with big rats on them spinning around and you had to shoot the rats off, the size of your prize depended on how many rats that were shot off the monsters.  This was a very fun game using real paintball guns and if you can imagine that if you get shot with one, it HURTS and leaves a monster bruise (ha, pun intended)!!!  There were times when you were inside the game putting the rats back on the heads and a customer thought it might be funny to shoot you, well it wasn't.  Gone Fishing was a kids game where two different colored discs floated around in a circle, you had to catch one with a magnet hanging on the bottom of a fishing pole.  Red was a big prize and yellow was a prize every time.  To win a really big prize, you had to trade up.

Now, armed with three "games" JB contacted the Reithoffer Show and we paid them for vendor space at their shows.  The Show travels on the east coast and has two different units.  Each show is unique and is comprised of different units from different areas.  We headed down the coast and finished up in Florida as our last show of the season in November.  If I remember correctly, Frederick, Maryland was our first show....

Read more about my travels with carnival:
Chapter II  On the road

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