Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Midway Memories : The 1950’s

Sometimes there is a story within a story.
About 1952 or maybe sooner Tiny a Chihuahua joined Far Guy's family.
Gene, Tiny 2 yr (2)
This photo was taken at the house in Park Rapids in 1952.
G Tiny 1954 (2)
Here is Far Guy and Tiny in 1954.  This is one of those photo booth photos.

Far Guy’s Dad, Marvin loved dogs…especially Chihuahuas.  One day out at the farm someone shot a rifle, Tiny got scared and ran off and hit by a car over on Highway 34, he is buried under the trees at the farm on the east side of the house.  Marvin always blamed himself and had a hard time getting over Tiny’s death.

Dogs keep kids busy.  Especially kids growing up on a carnival.  Dogs and summertime friends.
Gene and Donny 1955 (2)
Donny and Far Guy in 1955.  Donnys’s Dad was Brownie and he ran the Merry Go Round.
gene and Muggy July 30 1957
This is Far Guy and Muggy in July of 1957.  Muggy would live a good long time…he was 17 or 18 when he finally died.  He even grew to like me in his older years.

Kids growing up on a carnival.  The Midway is their playground.  Everyone watched out for everyone elses children that is just the way it was. 

Far Guy had jobs.  He was supposed to stay sitting on the corner of the joint, but would wait for his Dad to get busy or start talking to someone and he would sneak off.  He would head to the Commercial Building and the exhibits and collect all his pencils for school and what ever else they were giving away.  He liked to look at all the tractors lined up on a fairgrounds…one day he got onto a tractor and the key just happened to be in the ignition…so what is a boy to do?  Start the tractor and get it moving…but didn’t know how to get it stopped…so he went for a ride until someone jumped on and took over.  He and his best friend Bobby Suber would sneak over to the Girl Show at night and peek under the canvas at the show until someone noticed them and shooed them away.  He would hang around the ride boys and learn all about girls…and take that information home with him in the fall and enlighten all his friends in school.  He could ride any ride he wanted for as long as he wanted.
Besides being a somewhat absent gofer for his Dad…he had to go for more stock, coffee…take messages to other people…etc…anyways he would work for Sam Evans a Gypsy from Fort Worth Texas in the Six Cat Joint…setting up cats.  He would get sodas for the ride boys, sometimes they would give him a dime and say “Get yourself a soda.” He was the entertainment committee for all of the Fair Board Members and Committee Members kids.  He took girls on rides…and won them teddy bears.

His sister Jan was a ticket seller. Flossie Evans was a ticket seller too and he used to visit with her sometimes. There was a hierarchy back then, show owner at the top, concession owners, concession workers and ride boys, gypsies at the bottom.

He is pretty sure that his Mother took him into the trailer at night after dark and would stay with him…if she didn’t he would take off and go play Blackjack with the Suber kids.

They had a smaller trailer at first and then had this larger trailer that they took from town to town…when it was through with it’s travelling years it became a lake home for Uncle Jimmy and Auntie Esther.
Marvoin Jan Evelyn Gene 1958
August 1958  Marvin, Janice, Evelyn and Gene

He spent quite a bit of time with Shirley.  Shirley had a Hoopula (ring toss) joint, where you toss a wooden ring around a wooden block for a prize.  He picked up rings and sold them 5 for 25 cents.  He thought Shirley was gorgeous.  Her husband was Cotton, he drank a lot and wrote poetry.  Cotton was ride boy, they left the show suddenly…Shirley tearfully said her goodbye to Far Guy…his Mom was afraid Shirley was going to steal him away.  Shirley had some kind of a Government Job during the winter.

Most Carnival people had jobs in the winter and many were teachers.  Far Guys Mom was a teacher for many years in the 1930’s and the late 1940’s.

Far Guy and his sister Jan went out on the road with their parents as soon as school was out and would come back the day before school started again in the Fall.  Their Mother was usually with them…but if she had to stay out later in the Fall then they would stay with their Grandparents or Hazel Wall would come to the house to babysit them…Far Guy says she could make soup out of anything…he didn’t like soup…back them he was eating hamburgers and fries for breakfast.

Growing up out on the road (Carnival) was not exciting all the time and there were many things that Far Guy missed.  He never played baseball so he never really learned how to throw a ball until we got Chance.  He never got to take swimming lessons or go out for sports that started in August.  He missed family celebrations, weddings and get togethers during the summer…and his girl friends always found some way to break up with him over the summer…but then again he had girls that knew him all over Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. ( For the record I was his first girlfriend that didn’t dump him come summer, and I met some of those girlfriends in all those towns.)  
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  1. Very interesting to learn more about FG and his family. I love these pictures. Our Theo appears to be mostly Chihuahua and he is slowly beginning to be my buddy. In the beginning, he preferred John.
    Wishing you a nice day.

  2. Love hearing about FarGuy's family history. I had two chihuahuas when I was a kid--a male and female. Had pups once a year and sold them for about 4-5 years till got the female fixed. Great little dogs.
    These old pictures are priceless. Sounds like FarGuy had quite the crush on Shirley. I would imagine the carnival could get quite boring at times for kids, even when you wouldn't think so. A kid misses a lot not being able to play all summer with the neighborhood kids Well, glad you didn't dump him, Connie. And glad you got to meet the competition--which means you got to check out his summer life, too.

  3. What an interesting and unusual childhood. I remember reading a book called Toby Tyler Joins the Circus (or was it Toby Tyler Runs Away With the Circus?) when I was a kid and having wonderful fantasies about running away to join the circus like Toby as it sounded like a pretty wonderful life to me. You know -- free travel?!
    Great post.

  4. It always sounds like a fabulous life, working and living in a traveling carnival. But I guess it's like everything else, it has its upsides and downsides. I sure enjoyed learning about Far Guy's past, though. :-)

  5. I find Far Guy's life so interesting, even though, as you say, some days were repetitive and boring. The pictures make everything come to life. I like the way you have listed the pros and cons of such an unusual life!

  6. You not only ave memories here but a very descriptive account of life on a midway season.It was a completely different world..

  7. What a neat story! I never even thought about children being part of the carnival but of course they were! Thanks for the history lesson....

  8. Wow, what a fascinating life, well at least to read about it at our end! Not one I would have chosen for myself though, and like you pointed out, there were many things that FarGuy missed out on. A very interesting read, and I'm glad you didn't dump him over the summer!

  9. Most kids would have love that!

  10. I always wanted to run away and join the carnival! It was fun to read about Far Guy's childhood adventures.

  11. What an interesting life he led. I loved the part about getting on the tractor and starting it up. Sounds like something my grandson would do. I just asked Harley if she would have liked traveling with a carnival and she said "heck yeah" LOL!!

  12. Or lots of stories within a story :-D.

  13. Fascinating stories there and it gives me some ideas....:)

  14. What an interesting experience, one not many people have. I remember going to the Firemen's Carnival when I was a child. All week my sisters and I woudld do chores for a nickel or a dime so we would have money to spend at the Carnival. It was one of the few places we were allowed to go without our parents. I suppose it was because there were always lots of people we knew visiting the carnival, too. I never thought about there being children who traveled with the rides and games but there probably were. The profits from the carnival went to pay for equipment for the fire department. It was a volunteer department at the end of our two block long street. The neighbor man would zip down to the station in his car when the siren sounded.

  15. Wow, this is deja vu for me. My best friend grew up traveling with a carnival. Her parents had a food booth and something else. She used to talk about those days a lot when I first met her. Now we just talk about aches and pains of growing older. Sweet photos!

  16. This is so interesting! I've often wondered about carnival families. It does sound like fun but probably was hard on kids not being able to play sports and get involved in things at school. Didn't seem to hurt Far Guy though, did it? He turned out great.

  17. That must have been quite the summers during FG's growing up years.Remember the first week back at school we had to write a report " What I did this Summer"? FG's would have been the most interesting tale.

  18. I love to look at old pics of how life was back then. You told the stories, I hope you are leaving a legacy for your kids. I have thought i needed to do more old stories of life??

  19. This is a lot of good history that one doesn't see just anywhere. I was always fascinated by those who took the tickets or made my cotton candy. I remember how the carnival things were set up during the night and it was so magical to have it just appear. It was disappointing when we would return to town on Monday and the whole place was cleared. I would see the trailers that were brought along and I did wonder if people didn't sleep in their booth over night to protect the wares. Thanks Far Guy for all the sharing.


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