Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Midway Memories : Double Wheels

Back in the hay day of carnival business having two popular high rides was a big deal.  They could been seen from a long ways away which made for good advertizing and the capacity was fairly good.  A good wheel man was very important. 

Double wheels somewhere

Promotional photos were taken so a booking agent could show the Fair Board the double wheels.  We think this is Far Guys Dad in the photo.

Double Wheels early days Waukon Iowa

Waukon Iowa

The wheels would have a first man, a second man and sometimes a third man..and set up help.  Men who worked the wheel over the years were Perkel, Jerry Leper, Billy Grover, Dale Merriam, Ron Zwald, Stan the Black Man, Hubert Heeren and Virgil Landgraft. Perkel was a tall guy the spitting image of John Wayne, and he had a good sense of humor.

Hubert Heeren was one of the best wheel men ever.  Far Guy worked the wheel on set up/tear down day/night.  I would find a spot out of the way, settle in and watch.  Far Guy worked the top.  Which meant he would climb up one of the towers once it was set and raised and then balance on the top and attach all the spokes.  There was a series of ropes, the spoke was assembled on the ground and then the ropes were pulled and it rose to the center where Far Guy put in the bolts. He would slide down the cable, put together another spoke and climb up the tower and pin another spoke in place until they were all in place. It was a dangerous job, but with Hubert in control all the time injuries were minor.  Far Guy used to call it fighting the pig iron.  I learned alot by watching…and didn’t get involved other than to get them water and once in awhile searching for a cotter pin in the dark.  Far Guy fell out of the top once, hit his shins, ribs and head and bled all over in Staples Minnesota, Lois (Hubert’s wife) helped doctor him up and that was the last time he ever set up a wheel. ( Hubert calls us every once in awhile, he lives in Oklahoma and is a widower…when he gets lonesome he calls us.)

Half of the wheel seats were taken off each night and covers put on over all the seats.  If the weather turned stormy the seats would come off and four ropes were tied from the wheel to trucks. 

Sometimes that didn’t work.  Columbus Nebraska 1956

Columbus Nebraska about 1956

Hubert Heeren, Al Merriam, Dale Merriam and Marvin Henderson.

Wheel Damaged possibly Hubert in the photo

This wheel had the old wooden seats.  That is possibly Hubert Heeren in the photo.

The wheels were a total loss. New wheels were purchased.

Two wheels in color Northfield Iowa (2)

This is Northfield Iowa a number of years later.   Eventually one of the wheels was sold, with the advent of other more exciting carnival rides.

When I was about 12 years old, Far Guys Dad told him to take me on some rides.  Needless to say he stood there with his hands in his pockets and his head down and mumbled “You don’t want to go on any rides do you?”  Far Guy says he said “You wanna go on some rides?”  I said “No” “No thanks.” But I relented and went on the Ferris Wheel with him.

Wheel Seat

So we have a wheel seat in our yard. 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rain and other stuff

We seem to be in a wet cycle.  I told Far Guy today that if this keeps up through the winter we will be covered in many feet of snow.

There was a lightening strike in the middle of the night (Monday morning) that took me from laying down to standing up all in one movement.  My other baby brother lost Internet and TV Service not sure how his equipment fared.  Jo and Steve lost Internet and TV also but no equipment because Jo unplugged everything before the storm.  There was sheet lightening so bad it was like daytime out there and it poured rain and rumbled.  We lost power momentarily.  Chance and I were awake for a really long time after that.  We got 1 1/2 inches of rain and our yard has lots of small twigs that fell from the Oaks.

Poor Chance, we have some weed that has a black seed with a sharp hook on the end, the seed is about an inch long.  It seems he was either stabbed by one or one twisted and embedded into his skin, just the end was sticking out…we did some doctoring and pulled it out and treated him with antibiotic ointment and hope he doesn’t get real sick…he may need a course of antibiotics. Plus he has an ear infection again…but not in his usual ear.  This time it is his right ear which has never had an infection before. It is usually his left ear.  He has been tired and just not himself…don’t know what to blame, the ear, the wound or old age or maybe it is just too hot and humid…sure wish he could talk.


Rose Hips forming on the wild roses. I need to go trim them and make sure no hips are Chance height as he likes to eat them.

66 out of 80 Christmas Ornaments have been completed so we are on the home stretch!

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Small Changes

The other day I was concentrating on the changes happening around here. 

Today I will show you that some things are still pretty much the same as when I was little…with a few small changes.

The old barn

This is the farmstead where I grew up…I came here before I was one year old and I left when I got married when I was 18.  The big silo was not there back then…there was a silo next to the barn, and that building behind the barn was not there and the hay/straw bales are much larger…we had the little square bales which was a great improvement from loose hay piled onto wagons or in haystacks.

The old tower

The Smoky Hills Fire/Lookout Tower is still there…the communications tower was not there in earlier days.  I climbed to the top of the tower ONLY once and that was under great duress ( My brother and Danny were behind me.)  Inside the tower I had a meltdown and bawled my eyes out and said “I am stuck up here forever because I am too scared to go down!” ( I was going to be in BIG trouble too!)  I guess the boys finally figured that they were going to be in big trouble with me so they talked me into going down, one in front of me and one behind me…it was one of the scariest moments of my life.  I am afraid of heights.  I had attempted the climb before but was always the last person up the ladder and once I got to the tree tops I would chicken out and go back down.

The best part of a trip to the Tower was flying down the hill on your bicycle…it truly was like flying.

I have had adventures that my children and grandchildren will never have.  I wonder how many of them will retire just two miles from their childhood home? 

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Clouds and other stuff

We noticed some strange clouds on our drive last night.

Clouds like bubbles

The cloud looked like it had a bad case of the bubbles.

Clouds Aug 27 2016

It is starting to get dark earlier.  We saw four deer on our trip around the block. 

We had a quiet day at home on Saturday. I did laundry, scrubbed the tile floor in the living room area on my hands and knees, I am getting too old for hands and knees so part of it was sitting down scrubbing.  We have a steamer but there is nothing better than a really clean floor.  I painted some of the Christmas ornaments.  Far Guy woodcarved out in the woodshop and Chance stalked his favorite Chippy. He had a hold of it’s tail once and then let it go…after all if he catches it the fun will be all over.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wild life

We saw another bear, I did not get a photo…it was at a dead run…for big animals they can run really fast.  Way faster than me.  Chance missed it because he was snoozing.  Far Guy and I shout almost in unison A bear…a  bad word bear.  It is our second bear sighting for this year.  Since that one was in our yard at our window we always wonder when we are outside…what we will do if another one shows up in the yard….besides the obvious…messy drawers situation with much swearing.

Single Fawn Aug 119 2016

I saw something on Facebook that fits us to a tee.  “Relationships are just two people constantly asking each other what they want to eat, until one of them dies.”  At our house sometimes it goes like this “What do you want for supper?”  “I don’t know, what do you want?”  “ No fair I asked you first!” Then there is the big who is cooking question…I have learned if I am napping I can skip my turn.  Yesiree that is about as wild and crazy as we get around here.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Ship Shape Shirts

Some things bother me and I cannot help myself.  I have some OCD.

I noticed all of Far Guys shirts were mixed up in the closet…he carries away his own laundry.  There was no rhyme or reason to the organization…cause there was none, the summer wild print shirts were here and there not in their group.  The long sleeved shirts were hanging with the short sleeved shirts…it was all willy nilly.  Instead of being bitchy about it I fixed them all.  I came out of the bedroom and said “Did you know that your short sleeved shirts were all messed up with your long sleeved shirts?”  He grinned at me and said “Oh my that must be why I slept so badly last night.”  Then he said “They were in numerical order.” FUNNY.

My shirts are separated by sleeve length and then by color …pink, blues, turquoise, peach, green, yellow, red, black, white and prints.  I hang everything in the laundry room as it comes out of the dryer…I sort my colors there and then take them to the closet.  I used to make sure everything was hanging the same way you know fronts facing right…but I decided to just let go a bit and not be so anal about it all.

How about you?  Are your shirts hung or folded?  (Far Guy has some folded everyday T Shirts…I do not.) Do you separate by sleeve length and color?   Do you take all the laundry away in your house? 

Recently I gave Noah a lesson about how to properly fold a shirt…just like in the store.  I think he appreciated the lesson…he said he did.
Spirit Lake in Menahga Minnesota.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

Change is happening all around us. 

Far Guy was quite upset that his childhood home was being messed with.  One day we drove by and there were huge piles of dirt in the yard.  It was hard to tell what they were doing…moving the whole house?  Or putting a new basement underneath it?

The house in town

I drove by yesterday and took a photo…it is a new basement.

The Motel in Osage used to be called Whistling Pines.  Henry Holland built it back in the 1930’s.  There was a motel and a house on the property, it has always been painted yellow with brown trim.  Recently they painted it with some bargain mix your own color paint.

Old Motel in Osage

It is apartments now…no longer a motel.  It was for sale a long time ago and we almost bought it.  The house which is back in the trees had Henry Holland’s signature knotty pine walls with beautiful custom trim.


I took this photo yesterday…that color is real different.  I don’t care for it…it isn’t yellow.

Yesterday I had lunch with my long time friend Susan, we had lunch at 3rd Street Market and then shopped at the Thrift Store and Linda’s Recycled Goods.   I am the last of the big spenders with a 25 cent purchase for a piece of glass that has a hairline crack but will make a glass flower…someday!  We had a really nice visit!

I came home and joined Far Guy woodcarving the Christmas ornaments.  We now have 56 completely done…we are nearing the home stretch. We figure it takes about three hours to make one ornament from start to finish…we may time the whole process for one ornament before we are done.

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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.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Golden Fields

We have several CRP ( Conservation Reserve Program) fields in our area where the wildflowers take over.

Field of Goldenrod

This field is full of Goldenrod…many different Goldenrods…Solidago is it’s real name and there are at least fifteen different varieties in Minnesota.

Small Grain Field 

This is a Corporate Farm field.  It wasn’t exactly amber waves of grain this year.   The grain harvest is over.  The grain was full of smut or rust or something that caused the whole field to look black before it was harvested.  Too much rain for grain fields this year…plus they irrigated when it wasn’t raining…you could see the black go out from the little potholes in the fields.  The dryland farmers had much better grain fields than the corporate farmer.  Yeah for the small farmer!

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Late Summer Observations

On our nightly drive we have a tree that we watch.

Eagle Tree

We call it the Eagle Tree.  One night there were two Baldies up there.

We noticed this near our driveway.

Unknown Plant with red clump of berries

It looks like a small shrub like Oak Tree with a bunch of berries or some kind of gall?  I am not certain and I cannot find an answer.  

Whilst carving on the Christmas Ornaments we noticed that we were missing something.  A sound that we usually hear this time of year.  Acorns dropping off trees onto the steel roof on the woodshed…most summers we have plenty to drop and this year there a few to none in our yard.  What ever will the squirrels eat?

We are making progress on the Christmas ornaments.  We have 45 completely done and more parts are on my desk because Far Guy carved like a maniac all weekend.  The goal is 80 so we are over half way!!  Someone asked why do you do them in the summer?  We can make a mess with the woodchips and sawdust outside.  Most days it is nice to sit outside and work in the afternoon, a nice breeze makes it even better.   Far Guy power carves some of the parts and that raises some dust (He wears a mask and sometimes uses a fan to blow the dust away).

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Sunday, August 21, 2016


It rained again.  We worked on Christmas ornaments in the woodshop/greenhouse.  It was dry in there and pleasantly cool.  I only assisted for a short time…laundry, dishes and playing 52 pick up and put away happened for me first.  What?  You don’t play 52 pick up and put away?  52 items have to go back to their proper spots…with no cheating. Sometimes I can get 20 just from my desk!

Clouds Aug 20

Late in the afternoon we left for Detroit Lakes or DL as it is called.  I made a quick stop at their Ben Frankin…to check out supplies for making Christmas Cards.  Then we met a very old friend for supper, Nellie used to live next door to us in 1970 – 1972…the college years.  We had a good visit!

My other baby brother’s gallbladder surgery went just fine and he was released from the hospital last night.   He will have to be reminded to take it easy for the next two weeks…I suggested he go on a vacation! 

Clouds on the way to DL Aug 20

We watched the dramatic clouds all the way over to DL and drove through a few rain showers along the way.  The high yesterday was 65 F.  Chilly enough for a sweater and cool enough so that Chance could go for the ride with us.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Pass the …

Potatoes, baton…gallbladder?

I was convinced my other baby brother had no gallbladder. My parents, my baby brother,  my sister, my two daughters, my niece and I all had surgery to remove our gallbladders.  For years my other baby brother has been the oldest with a gallbladder…now he passes the gallbladder to his son Josh the next in line. 

My other baby brother got real sick on Thursday night and will have gallbladder removal surgery this morning.  The surgeons were all too busy to do his surgery on Friday so he awaits his turn in the hospital…feeling very little pain with a bit of a sleepy look in his eyes…the pain meds are working nicely to keep the edge off the pain.

Years ago in 1926 before my father was born my grandmother had a severe gallbladder attack while she was pregnant with him.  She had surgery to remove her gallbladder, they didn’t know at the time if the baby (my Dad) would survive…well he did and he must have passed on the “sick” gallbladder part. 

I had my surgery back in 1995 or 1996, I could eat plain toast and drink 7-up that was it….anything else would bring on an attack.  I was so happy to finally be diagnosed, I had to have a HIDA Scan to make a definitive diagnosis. My surgeon advised me to go out and eat pizza as soon as I could to find out if the surgery worked!  The only problem I have noticed over the years is that you never want to over eat.

IMG_1492 (3)

My other baby brother and “she who sees robins first.” 

She had surgery on her hand on Wednesday and my brother was supposed to be “the nurse”…the best laid plans sometimes don’t work out.  We sent over some chili for them on Thursday and I thought for a bit that it might have been my cooking that pushed his gallbladder over the edge but luckily he got too sick to eat it.

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Friday, August 19, 2016


Last night Far Guy was talking with his sister on Facetime.  I got up to get something and noticed twin fawns outside the window.  Luckily my camera was on my desk…and Far Guy figured out how to show his sister the deer too!  Newfangled gadgets are wonderful sometimes.

The Fawns Aug 18 (2)

I took these photos through the window.

Single fawn Aug 16 (2)

They hung around a little bit and then took off, we never saw their Mom.


Is there any doubt why they are called “white – tails”?

Chance was sound asleep during the deer visit.  He is sleeping quite a bit lately…the dog days of summer maybe…or old age.

We have had deer in the yard from time to time.  One morning I was sitting outside while a deer ate my roses around the grain bin…it stomped its feet at me.  Another time we heard something crash into the corner of the house… the hair left behind belonged to a deer.  Years ago the deer would stomp their feet and snort at Captain our old deaf dog…his nose was still good and he would put up such a ruckus they would leave the gardens.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

My baby brother and his wife welcomed the birth of their seventh grandchild…a healthy boy…who has no name yet so my brother says he will call him “Seven.”  That makes 19 Great Nephews and Nieces for us.

Far Guy and I have been carving on Christmas Ornaments every day, we have rain forecast again for a few days so I have a stockpile of ornaments to paint when the weather turns bad.  I mowed the lawn yet again and weeded my small flower garden out front.  The so and so squirrels have been tough on those flowers.

We have been watching some of the Olympics…Golf…well I would just as soon watch paint dry.  We enjoyed the sand volleyball and the diving competitions.  I believe we both liked the Olympics better in the olden days where the atheletes could not compete if they were paid for the sport they were in. I know we are old duffers.

Tiger Lily

My Tiger Lily bloomed this year.  The weather was wet enough and the deer left it alone for a change.  When ever I see a Tiger Lily I think of my Uncle Otto as he gave me my first start of these lilies.

The clouds have been impressive lately.  One night on our drive we watched the thunderheads build and collapse.

Moon August 12

I took this photo on August 12…I got the moon and the clouds.

The local small grain fields have been harvested, the air has been full of grain dust but luckily the wind has kept the dust away from our home.

We had our first meal of local sweet corn.  It was quite good.  I froze two small bags.  We did a freezer inventory and discovered we had 22 bags of corn left from last year so we are NOT making a big batch of sweet corn for the freezer this year.

Blueberries are in the freezer for winter.  No raspberries this year…picking was slim around here this year.

Barbara and Roger brought us some Walla Walla Onions that were huge, they are now in the freezer too.  We will enjoy them next winter in chili and on hamburgers.

So much for our hunting and gathering.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Midway Memories: The Route

We don’t know much about Rocko Shows or Home State Shows because those were the early days.  Home State Shows was owned by Far Guy’s Aunt Louise’s Parents.
Merry Go Round
The Octopus, Merry Go Round and a Kid Ride on Merriam’s Midway Shows.  Note the silver joint under the street light?  That is Roy Nigg’s Shooting Gallery, he used real 22 Caliper Ammo.  This photo was taken someplace in a small town on the streets. Note all the oil spots in the parking areas.  This photo must have been taken from the Ferris Wheel and it was most likely tear down night as one of the ticket boxes has no top on it. The Kid Ride out in front was hand made by Al Merriam’s Father.  This photo is from the 1950’s.

Sometime in the early 1950’s  Far Guy’s Dad, Marvin became a concessionaire over on Merriam’s Midway Shows owned by Alva and Edna Merriam out of Ogden Iowa.  It was a very family oriented show and was a good fit.  In those early years on Merriam’s a number of people worked for Marvin as a Digger Agent.  Most memorable was Dick (Shatler or Shafer) sometimes last names cannot be recalled.  Dick or Old Dick gave Far Guy his Gene Autry Cap Guns and Holster.  He saw that a neighbor boy had cap guns and a holster and Far Guy did not.  Remember the 1 Ton 1951 Truck enclosed with a homemade box on the back?  The truck that held the crates with diggers?  That truck had a cot and that is where Dick slept in the summer.

Some of the people that worked for Marvin over the years; Irish, Louise, Willard, Dick S., Bob M., Gene B., Tom H., Tim O. and me…oh and Far Guy, Far Guy’s Sister and Far Guy’s Mom.
Every spring we looked forward to getting a Route Card. Here is an old one from 1957.
1957 Route Card
Circus Jump:  When you leave one town one morning and drive to the next town set up and open for business.   If it is a long jump (drive) from one town to another it makes for a really long day.  Sleepy Eye Minnesota to Titonka Iowa was a Circus Jump in 1957 it was  a 111 mile drive.  When you got to Canby Minnesota you could count on going to the Movies because you had two days off!
The Route Card was important for other stuff too, mail could be sent General Delivery and be picked up at the Post Office by the Carnival Mailman.  Relatives could plan a visit and friends could stop and say hi if they were traveling in the vicinity.

Most days you opened at 12 noon and closed sometime around midnight. Some times we closed for an hour for supper but not often.  So you worked at least 12 hours a day. Rain, shine, hot, cold…the only weather we closed for was high winds and tornado warnings.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Wild Gardens

If you can brave the skeeters the wild gardens are beautiful this time of year.

I do nothing out there except mow some trails so I can walk through.

The Wildgardens August 15

That is Obedient Plant or Physostegia virginiana off to the left, Black eyed Susans  in the front and Liatris or Gayfeather in the back.  Way in the back is the Marge Grass that is looking good this year.


After so many years of greenhouses and gardening it is a treat to see what comes back year after year with no extra water, fertilizer or deadheading.  Years ago I tended this garden, I weeded by the five gallon buckets and always worried if I got behind weeding. Not so much anymore.

I am a lazy gardener. This year the good Lord has provided enough water for the gardens to flourish.  Let go and let God works for most people and I guess flowers too!

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