Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Fun

For a guy who professes to prefer fall, perhaps even winter, over summer, I seem to find enough to write about regarding these normally hot, humid days. I think that’s because summertime has been such a big part of my life and the memories of those days come back to me on the breeze.

This afternoon the wind pushing thick, warm air through the screens reminds me when summer was a quieter, slower time. With just a smattering of part-time, temporary jobs (lawn mowing, hay baling, fence painting and dog sitting) I had plenty of idle time spent reading, watching black & white movies on a black & white television and playing games (both inside and outside).

However, sitting around “doing nothing” did not sit well with Dad, and in the summer of 1973 he found me a job. The Scott County Fair had purchased some land outside Jordan and the fair was going to open at its new location for the first time that summer. Outfitted with two wrenches I worked along side other 14 and 15 year old boys putting together metal bleachers for the grandstand. Some assembly required indeed.

Once the fair opened I was reassigned to parking cars. Andy, my friend from town, and I stood in an open field waving cars and trucks to the front of the lot, occasionally hopping on a bumper for a ride. It wasn’t exactly valet parking, but what person in their right mind is going to allow a 14 year old boy to drive cars around a parking lot?

After a full day of work, there was the fair to explore. People shuffled and shifted up and down the midway while the lights blinked and winked at each other and the band played on. The carnival rides tilted, scrambled, and rolled merrily round and round; I walked through it all as if I were in the middle of a movie.

The next summer some of my friends had driver’s licenses (or at least farm-permits) and we traveled the seven-eight miles up highway 169 to the county fair. It became a regular summer trip. There was usually a live band, which meant the chance to dance with some girls we didn’t know. There were engines roaring beyond the grandstand, animals calling to one another in the barns, and people enjoying each other’s company.

Over forty years some things change while some stay the same. For instance, during the last few years I was once again in the parking lot during the fair. I had volunteered to drive a golf cart giving people rides from the lot to the grandstand (and points in between). It was a lot of fun; I got to meet all sorts of people, save them a few steps, see the fair and pretend I was a taxi driver. I think it may be the best job there.
The fair has been part of my life for many years; when my kids were younger they would bring animals there for 4H. I remember loading sheep into the back of a truck when it was obvious from their bleating and pleading they would rather have stayed home; I have also transported cages of pigeons, ducks and chickens. One year we even brought a cow to the fair that was on loan from a neighboring farmer; that was the year I got a trailer.

In July of those years our kitchen was a flurry of floury creations and a gathering of garden vegetables to bring to the fair to be entered in competition by my wife and daughter.  Out in the barn I helped my son with wood projects. Then all of this and that was loaded and brought to the fair in the hopes of bringing back some ribbons.

The kids are older now, past 4H age, but I know we will go back to the fair again this year to revisit some old memories and bring back some new ones. It takes a few more dollars to get into the fair now and a couple more to get something to eat, but it’s still worth it. The Scott County Fair runs from July 23-27th near Jordan.

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