Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Midway Memories : Connections

My Husband ( Far Guy) Writes:

“In this world there are many stories, and all the stories are one.” Those words were taken from a book titled The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom. 

The Erie Digger may be just a machine but some wonderful stories come from it.  It is part of my story which makes it part of your story.


We will start with Charlotte Allen.  Charlotte was three when her mother died and she had to go live with relatives. When she was sixteen she went to live with her best friend Rachel Moss. Rachael Moss had a brother named Lee Moss.  At some point in time Rachael marries a guy by the name of Tommy Wells.  Okay that is how we make the Lee Moss and Tommy Wells connection (remember they eventually partnered to buy The Erie Manufacturing Company).Herman and Charlotte

Herman and Charlotte

Charlotte remains good friends with Rachael Wells and stays with the young couple until she marries Herman Henderson (my Great Uncle).   Tommy Wells helps Herman get started in the Digger Business and he does well enough with the business to hire his nephew Marvin Henderson (My Dad).

There is one more connection to make.  Remember in the History of the Erie Digger I mentioned there were some independent operators of Erie Diggers?  Willard Abbott was one of them (he is my Uncle…my Mother’s brother.)

So these little machines designed to dispense candy came into our story from a couple of different directions.

Going down the road

Photos that were shared with us by Roxie (Herman and Charlotte’s daughter).

Hermans diggers, trailer and dog

Hermans Trailer

Home away from home.

Hermans Diggers

Far Side Writes:

The photo above is one of the early trailer mounted joints.  Looks like eight machines are permanently mounted in this trailer.

In the years before they were trailer mounted each digger machine would have been packed in its traveling crate and loaded into a cargo van.  When you got to your destination or “spot” a joint would be “set up” and the “set joint” diggers unloaded and “flashed”for the spot.

Spot = City or town for a celebration or a fair.

Set Up = Taking everything out of a cargo van or truck.

Set Joint = A joint made from lumber and canvas covered that was assembled on site and dissassembled and put back in the truck at the end of the spot.

Trailer Mounted Joint = A carnival game that was housed permanently on a trailer.

Flashed = Making sure everything is clean, washing windows and dusting. Making sure you have all the prizes in their proper spots.


Roxie about 1947.

Many thanks to Roxie for sharing her old photos.

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  1. What an exciting life for little Roxie, and I'm sure there was great cite meant in the small towns when entertainment came to town. So nice you have the photos, and the story behind them.

  2. What a cool story! And very interesting pictures as well. :-)

  3. How pizzazzy to be related to carny folk!! I bet they had some interesting stories to tell.
    The trailer mounted joint looks like the way to go if a person could afford one. :)

  4. That's really cool!! Did FarGuy get any inside info on how to rig the games?


    1. During the 50's and early 60's many games were controlled, not all but many. I will just call it controlled winning. Then in the 60's carnivals started to clean up their act. Now they use what is called a build up as they will start you off small and keep getting the player to pay more for a larger prize.

  5. What a great family story! I have one but don't know if I will tell it.
    It was keep a secret from or generation found out about it doing ancestry.

  6. That was so fun to read about!

  7. This has been interesting to read. athanks for taking the time to add more information and photos.

  8. Loved the photos and story . My cousin is a carnival person or best known as a carney and has traveled with them for years around the world . Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

  9. A small world and a great story!


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