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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  1. I have really enjoyed this series on the carnival. You experienced it so you have a very realistic description.

  2. This is so interesting as I attended many carnivals in my youth! Love the pictures too. I can't believe they used real ammo! Of course, we were a daredevil generation...riding in cars without seat belts or car seats, not locking doors or cars, etc. and so much more! LOL!

  3. Reading all these posts brings back the lights, the smells, the dust, the music, the workers calling out to the crowd, the sounds of the machinery and thrills in motion. Old hat to FarGuy, for sure. ;)

  4. Lots of cars must have had oil leaks back in those days!! Another great post!

  5. That's such a cute horse cart children's ride. I'm sure the carnival visit was a highlight of the summer for families in those small prairie towns. I know so many of them.

  6. I would never have expected to see and hear about the life of the carnival world. Seeing the carnival set up around the square of Osceola, Iowa was always a magical special sight. The lights that came with the rides made it all very special. The little town of Murray, Ia would put a little amount of money together for a smaller company. A small ferris wheel was always a disappointment. I would take all the money I could get together and I would spend it all a quarter at a time. Thanks Far Guy for sharing of it all. Boone and Ogden almost hits Woodward but it was a very small town that never had a carnival history.


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