Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Midway Memories: 1968

In 1968 my not yet Father In Law called my Mother and asked if he could employ me for the summer; $40 a week, room and board.  So Far Guy met me at my Uncle Otto and Aunt Marie’s house in Clarissa Minnesota.  The first spot I was out that year was Paynesville Minnesota.  On the way over Far Guy told me that someone named Bill would say “She is prettier than the gal you were with last night.”  And sure enough that is what happened.

Connie  1968 (2)

That is me in the little joint.

The sixteen year old gal raised on a farm was about to get a whole new education.  I would meet many new people and learn how to work the diggers.   Far Guy’s Dad was a good teacher, I worked with him almost exclusively.  At that time there were two sets of diggers the big joint and the little joint.  The little joint belonged to Far Guys Mom because she bought it from her brother with money she had saved from teaching school.  So there you have it Far Guy worked with his Mom and I worked with his Dad, there were twelve diggers in the little joint and sixteen in the big joint.  I was warned that if I didn’t move fast enough I  might get an elbow in the ribs…(I was warned by Far Guy and his sister)…apparently they were slow movers.

A carpenters nail apron was tied around my waist.  Quarters were in one pocket and dimes in the other.  I would make change for a dollar…two quarters and four dimes and throw the dollar bill in the metal money box on the floor.   Nickels were kept on the back of each machine so you sould make change for a quarter.  I learned to replace prizes after they were won and what each price could be redeemed for…a rabbits foot was a free game, as were coin purses, a knife and a churchkey were 30 cents and a free game, table top cigarette lighters were 50 cents and a game.  They were all paid with dimes.  There were also two tokens they were bright orange one was 50 cents in trade and the other one dollar in trade.

Marvin and Connie 1969 or 1970

Marvin and me  in 1969 or 1970.

Far Guy’s Dad and I would stand back to back in the diggers, I would watch my eight machines and he would watch his.  We would start work at noon or 1 PM at the latest and work until at least midnight. It was a good twelve hour day. We worked hard.  My feet hurt. It was hot, it was cold…but I stuck with it.  Far Guy’s Dad was a good story teller and would tell me stories and I should have written them all down back then. I think he told me stories that no one had heard before.

Little joint 1968 Gene and Connie

A rare photo of Far Guy and I working together in the big joint in 1968.

I was sad to head home after the summer, Far Guy was off to College and I was in my senior year of high school.  I got quite an education that summer, I learned a lot about people, and made some life long friends.

I stayed in the camper with Far Guy and his parents.  I had the bed way in back of the camper.  It was a cozy situation but we all made it work.

My baby brother asked me the other day “How did you get Mom and Dad to agree to you going out on the carnival when you were still in High School?”   I am not sure what Far Guy’s Dad told my Mother…what ever it was…I was happy…Far Guy was happy…we had a great summer.

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  1. I am really enjoying these stories about your experiences and rhe diggers. Please keep them coming.

  2. How very interesting and I love the pictures.

  3. So that is how you got interested in Far Guy. And he in you. What a great story. I wish there were people in my life I'd known for the entire time. The only one I still know is my sister. :-)

  4. I enjoy reading about the Midway Memories.

  5. Add me to the Midway Memories fan club! :)

  6. This is such a good story. I need to look up diggers. I had no idea what in the world you were hired to do until I read on. I like what Far Guy said about you being prettier. He liked you already, didn't he. $40 a week sounds good. I would have felt rich!

  7. I'm sure you look back on this as an unbelievable experience. It's a lifestyle that has disappeared except for the big shows.

  8. What a great experience. Sometimes those hardest times of work really created the best character. I remember being a farm boy washing dishes in the truck stop moving 90 miles and hour and keep up. They said I was the only one that ever did. I just assumed it was a failed job if I didn't keep up. So you knew what you were marrying into by spending the summer with future in laws.

  9. I bet it was really fun for a girl in high school. A chance to travel and see Iowa ... ha ha. And $40 would have seemed like a fortune! Did you save for college? I got an education that summer, too. I worked in a small "discount store" (I think they were called then) and didn't realize how many poor people there were in my town until I worked there.

  10. I love your stories about growing up! We worked the boarding houses in the Catskills in the summer and you are right that it was a different education - - - but like you, we worked very hard. I waitressed three meals a day - - six days a week. We learned to fall asleep in two seconds and were happy with a 45 minutes nap in the morning. We needed it since we went out at night after cleaning the dining room which meant we didn't get out of the kitchen until 8:30 or 9. Long time ago and lots more energy.

  11. Love this story! One question, did you know Far Guy before this, or was this how you met?

    1. I met him the first time when he asked me to go on a Ferris Wheel Ride, then again when I was a Junior and he was a Senior in High School in Study Hall, he took my seat one day.

  12. This sounds like a lot more fun that picking crops all summer!

  13. The beginning of a Love Story.

  14. Like Henny Penny I was really wondering what in the world a digger was but sort of figured it out as I read on. You have had an interesting life.

  15. And this is how it all began!!!


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. I no longer accept anonymous comments. All comments will be approved before posting...due to spammers...may the fleas of a thousand camels infest every hair on his body. Connie