Archive for Thursday, July 29, 2004

Bits and Pieces

Rain doesn’t wash away carnival memories

July 29, 2004

Rainy weather ushered in the annual CPA picnic in Eudora this past weekend. The crowd was sparse Friday evening, with folks skittish about the threatening rain, which arrived later in the night followed by a deluge on Saturday morning to the tune of five inches, so I've been told. The kids parade went off without a hitch Friday night, as did the parade and activities Saturday night.
After the huge downpour on Saturday morning, the weather was beautiful later in the day and the temperature was such that sweatshirts were appropriate. Usually the CPA marks some of the hottest days of the summer, such as last year when it was almost impossible to breathe, but I can also remember times like this year when jeans and jackets were a must.
St. Theresa's Society from Holy Family Church was in charge of the concession stand this year, and I was a runner between the grill and the kitchen -- delivering hamburgers, hot dogs and Pyle's sausages from grill to kitchen. We had a lively crew -- Trish Martin and Kathy Carlson were kitchen mainstays for the entire evening, as were several others.
Karen Boyer was seen expertly flipping burgers at one of the grills outside the stand and singing along with the country western band that played on Saturday. She even managed a dance step between flips.
Bob Katzfey and Frank Siebert, who were also pressed into grilling, did a great job, even though I'm sure that particular job wasn't their first choice. Steve Spence and David Alvarez arrived later in the evening to practice their expert grilling technique.
Members of Holy Family parish staffed the booth both nights, which featured brisket sandwiches this year along with the usual burgers and homemade pies. It was fun working with old friends and those we don't see very often, and also fun to visit with Father Lickteig, our recently departed pastor who returned just for the evening to experience this small town event. Special thanks go to LaDonna Ballock for organizing and directing the concession stand. It's a big job.
The kids enjoyed the picnic both nights particularly my grandsons, the three G Boys. Money that had been saved for the event was frittered away on such staples and "must haves" like a velour snake won by my grandson, Gabe, which was "so cheap" after playing only 20 games of chance at a $1 a throw. To say nothing of the huge blow-up Spiderman won by grandson Garrett after some fancy trading with the vendor. Grant, the third of the G Boys, had stars in his eyes for games as well as rides, but he was beginning to droop a bit by Saturday night.
Watching the boys as well as the other kids who walked or rode on floats in the parade brought back memories of my own children, who thrilled to the sights and sounds of Toby's Carnival 30 years ago. Some of those memories I have already written about in another column. Going back even farther, I recalled my own fascination with carnivals that often set up on the east side of Emporia near my home when I was growing up.
My Dad was always up for walking with me to the carnival while my brother took off with his buddies. I always dragged Dad to the booth where you could stump the wizard who guessed your age. Dad, who looked 20 years younger than his real age, was always a sure thing for a big prize, which sometimes was money, which we promptly spent on cotton candy and rides on the Ferris wheel.
When I got a little older, I abandoned Dad, attending the carnival with my girlfriends where we enjoyed flirting with the carnival vendors in hope they would offer a free ticket to one of the games. It didn't usually work, but it was fun trying. Sometimes we fantasized about running away with the carnival, but of course "nice girls" didn't do such things but it appealed especially when the first day of returning to school was looming on the horizon.
Later on, one of my first dates as a teenager was to attend the Lyon County Fair with my then-boyfriend -- a quiet, handsome young man. I remember romantic songs from the movie "State Fair," which starred Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes running through my mind as I rode the Ferris wheel with my current heartthrob only to discover that his thoughts were running more to the demolition derby the next night. So much for a summer romance.
He did, however, win two baby ducks for me at one of the game booths, which I took home to my horrified parents. They were used to the usual cats and dogs that often found their way home with me, but ducks? Well, you all know what atrocious personal habits they have. The ducks disappeared one week while I was visiting my aunt in Kansas City and I always wondered if they weren't the ones who graced our table the following Thanksgiving. It was one of those "don't ask, don't tell" moments.
I'm trying to find a fitting ending to this and am having trouble doing it, so I'll just leave you with your own memories of carnivals and the CPA Picnic as I adjourn to watch the antics of the current carnival/circus broadcast on television this week -- the Democratic National Convention.

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