Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Midway Memories :1956-1960’s

I think he got his love of trains from the early carnival days.

Gene 1957

1957  Far Guy standing on a junction box.  Note the name on the side of the train is Ogden. That is more than likely a ride boy talking to a gal in the ticket box.

Window wash Jan

Far Guy’s sister Janice washing windows in 1956.

Far Guy writes:

Set up day!  In the above photo my sister is washing the glass on the diggers. The glass was always washed with windex and old newspaper on set up day then they didn’t get washed again unless they were really dirty or some kid smeared his cotton candy all over it.  The prizes inside the digger laid on corn kernels.  The prizes and corn had all been removed prior to moving to the next spot so on set up day we put all the corn back in, cleaned the prizes and wiped down all the wood cabinets with Old English Red Oil.  The reason for the corn was simple it was a filler.  Remember these machines were first filled with candy.  The corn just brought the prizes up to the level where the shovel could close on them.  Some operators used rocks, but Dad liked corn he said it was lighter and easier on the tires.  A few years after this photo Dad developed a way to cover the corn and hold it in place while moving.  He had three bolts under the corn so on the last night instead of removing the corn you had to dig down, find the bolts, place a fiberboard plate over them and tighten them down with a wing nut.  It might have been easier than removing all that corn but you still had to dodge that darn 100 watt light bulb above the cab in the machine.  I usually burned my arm four or five times in the process.  Finally in the 1960’s, I convinced Dad that foam would work just as well and would be easier on the tires.  From then on the prizes stayed in the machines while moving, we covered them with plastic tucked in under the foam.  When we got to the next spot and had our location the digger trailer was leveled and then the plastic was removed and all the prizes put into place, the windows washed and everything wiped down with red oil.

Far Side Writes:

There are two kinds of joints.  Center joints (like the diggers) that can have customers on all sides and line joints that only have customers on the front side.   When you get to a new town your location would be marked with chalk on the street or a fairgrounds had a wooden stake.  You found your location and lined up your joint properly, leveled the joint and set up for business.  The Boss ( Carnival Owner) always did the locations…everyone would wait around for him to head out with his tape measure and bucket with chalk/stakes to lay out “the lot”…sometimes it seemed to take forever…and then there were good locations and bad locations…the bad ones were called Donikers.  A Doniker is carnie slang for toilet.

The damn Red Oil.  I hated that stuff…it smelled.  It collected dust…in later years only the dice and knives were oiled the rest of the prizes were cleaned with Windex.  Fairgrounds are very dusty places…and if there are races in the grandstand dust billowed over the fences.

Light Bulb burns.  It was hard not to swear it hurt so bad when your arm touched a light bulb.  You had to put your hand in the machine all the time to replace prizes.  Far Guy’s Mom had scars all up and down her arm.

Blog Signature

13 comments:

  1. I learned something new today: what a doniker is. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I find these accounts fascinating! They are just begging to be made into a book!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Catching up....hope your brother and wife are feeling better now! The fields all look amazing. I wonder is your mystery bush a skunk bush perhaps? The midway stories are really fun and I'm enjoying them - an area of life we don't read much about for sure. Glad the carving is going along so well!

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is a nice little train. I'm wondering if children rode in cars pulled by the engine, or just watched it go around the track. I'm sure little boys loved it, either way. I sure enjoy reading these memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Children rode in cars pulled by the train:)

      Delete
  5. Doniker, eh? Love the sound of that word, but I'll likely never remember it--LOL!
    I love these memories of the carnival stories. Was almost rubbing my arm and tasting dust as I was reading. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I cannot imagine all the germs that lurked on the outside of those glasses. In our days of being so worried about germs people would go crazy with this, wouldn't they. I love this series.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a cutie he was! I loved those trains too. Couldn't they have turned off the power to the lights so you didn't get burned while you were cleaning and setting up? Ouch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope no way to shut the light bulbs off every time you had to replace prizes, it was a hazard of the job. :)

      Delete
  8. The shelled corn jogged some more memories about the Diggers. I am thinking I saw a set up of them at the Osceola, Iowa 4th celebration. I may have remembered them from the Iowa State Fair even though we did not go there very often. I did not remember the prizes as I probably wasn't very good at working them. Great memories.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've been fascinated by your carnival series. There was definitely a routine.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What an interesting account of what the life of a Carnie was like. Light bulb burns are an occupational hazard I had not thought of.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie