Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Something Deep Fried This Way Comes

I do highly recommend, when the chilly wind starts up in the evening, when you put away the summer shorts and pull out the blue jeans, to take a look at Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, a veritable tribute to the month of October.  Bradbury mixed his usual lyrical writing with a chorus of nostalgia, and a verse of horror.  It's what he did best in any short story or novel, bringing alive the price of memory, nostalgia, and sorrow (Counting Crows sung a line: "The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings.").  You will not find any better book written than Dandelion Wine, a must read for anyone who longs for the more simpler times.  In SWTWC, William waxes nostalgic, and wishes to become younger, while Jim wants to grow older.  In comes Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, the carnival with a merry-go-round that makes just those dreams come true, but at a cost.

For October is, amongst the chill winds and the Trick or Treating and the falling leaves, saying goodbye to Summer for the dark, dreary Winter months, the time of the local Carnival.  A last celebration, a sudden gasp of joy before it all goes away.  In Georgia, the Georgia State Fair has moved from the central-based town of Perry (near Macon) to the Atlanta Motor Speedway just south of Atlanta (in Hampton).  The hope is to draw people from the metro area to the fair (in my opinion, they probably could get rural folk to Perry easy enough, but high gas prices are hurting attendance.) In Oklahoma, the State Fair is located off Portland Ave. in the middle of Oklahoma City.  Everyone goes to the fair.  The schools have a teacher workday called "Fair Day" so that everyone could go to the fair.  Traditionally, the fair is supposed to be used for farmers bringing stock to a market to be inspected and sold (you remember Charlotte's Web? Wilbur was taken to the "fair" to be entered into a prize, and then sold for bacon).  In the meantime, the family ate, rode rides, watched rodeos, and made a day of it.

My memories of the Oklahoma State Fair begins with my grandmother, Mema, who worked counting tickets sold for the fair.  So we got in free. It's amazing I didn't get totally lost and separated from Mema walking around there, as I was my propensity every time I went anywhere (still do). I was young enough that the rides we went on were small merry-go-rounds in the shapes of cars, spaceships, etc... The goal was to get into a vehicle and have the horn work on it, or the buttons that made the lights work.  Those old machines were probably on their last leg then, but they were magical to us.  It was either that, or gaze high into the air where the grown-up rides were.  The Tilt-a-Whirl Pirate ship that went high into the air one way, then another, or the grand Ferris Wheel that stands above the fairground and can be seen for miles.  The main ride we loved going on was the tower that lifts you high above the Oklahoma soil and lets you see the whole city.  Reminds me of the Glass Elevator on Willy Wonka. You could see the Goodholm Mansion that was moved from Oklahoma City out to the fairground.  It was an old southern style house that the historical society wanted to save from Urban Renewal, and so they moved it to the fairgrounds as an exhibit. My grandmother said she lived in the house for a short while as a child. From atop the Space Tower, you could see all the way into downtown, and it was wonderful.

So, at the end of the month, it would be so worth taking a family out to the Georgia State Fair, to experience all the rides and the food and see the cows and horses and cars (it's on the Raceway), create memories that children will have for a long time.  It's a tunnel back to yesteryear, before electronic gadgets that keep kids walking head down while somehow maneuvering around poles and doors and stuff.  Get the kids to look up for once, to sights they'll never forget.

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