Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Return of the County Fair

The county fair is here, and with it comes a mixture of memories from my childhood.

When I was a toddler, we lived within a two minute walk of the fairgrounds. We could see the lights and hear the sounds from our front yard. I remember seeing my mother and (I think) her sister walk away, headed for the fair. She promised she would take me another time, and that she would be back soon. I wasn't more than three, but I remember that it sounded like fun, and I wasn't allowed to have it. Worse than that was the longing for my mother... I just didn't want her to leave me behind. I wanted my mommy to pick me up and take me with her, but she waved as she walked away. That year she came home with a gigantic pink stuffed dog that she still had years after the divorce. It was a dopey looking dog, and it had bristly fake fur, but I still wanted to play with it. It was hers, though. Never going to be mine. Like all little kids, I thought all toys should belong to me. :)

Several years later, my mother gave me a pin she'd had since she was a little girl. A pink jeweled enamel cat with a silly long neck. I pinned the treasured cat on the pocket of my jeans to keep from losing my money, but toward the end of the day, I realized that I had lost her beloved pin. She had told me to keep it until I had a little girl to give it to, and I lost it in a place that is now part of a cemetery. I never told her I lost her pin. Maybe someone found it, and they had a little girl to give it to. I never did. And thinking about losing the pin only freshens the memory of losing my mother. For all i will ever know, the pin may be forever jumbled into the dirt of someone's grave in Fairview Cemetery.

My dad loved dragging me through the haunted houses that would open with every fair. He claims he was curing me of my fear of the dark, but sometimes I thought he got a kick out of scaring me.

Perhaps he meant well the time he literally dragged me up the steps of one of those spook houses, and I bloodied my knee, yet he forced me to go through there with him, crying and bleeding. The carnie who was operating the haunted house told him he would give him his tickets back because I was hurt, but my father said he was going to MAKE me go through it, and I'd better stop my crying or he was going to "give me something to cry about," a favorite expression of his.

Yeah... Empathy wasn't one of his strong points back then, for sure. Bleeding and crying? Oh, you'd better stifle it fast because he didn't want to hear it.

Still, I do have a couple of good memories of Dad at the fair with us. Waiting patiently for us to get our fill of riding the kiddie cars. Rocking the ferris wheel seat while we were stuck at the top. Taking us by his employer's booth (Sylvania) in the civics building to have our picture made with him. I remember the picture well. He was kneeling, with me on his knee and my sister standing on the other side. We were all grinning like crazy people. My sister and I were wearing matching halter top and shorts sets and lips that were so red that was obvious we had been eating red snow cones.

All I can say is this: the haunted house trek must have been AFTER that photo, and I'm obviously still holding onto some fearful resentment after all these years. Lol.

I think he bought us cotton candy to eat on the walk home. By this time, we lived in a new neighborhood on the opposite side of the fairgrounds, still within walking distance.

It's strange to think that even now, eating cotton candy makes me feel safe and happy, because it reminds me of the best parts of Dad taking us to the fair.

Still, I haven't forgotten the time my brother was forced to take us to the fair. He played a game until he won a pair of handcuffs, and then cuffed his two little sisters together to tow along behind him. Well, I can't blame him. He was a teenager and it must have been a drag to be stuck chaperoning two little girls on Fair Day off from school. LOL

Why haven't I been to the fair in many years? It makes me sad. I think of the future that fell by the wayside into the past, without ever happening. And I don't want to go by myself. Simple as all that. The county fair is a place to go *with* someone, which I am sadly lacking. Oh well. :)

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