Can you imagine the Frake kids — Margy and Wayne — going to their state fair in Iowa (actually, to the Rodgers and Hammerstein version in the 1945 movie musical) and being patted down as they enter?
That’s what faced my sister and I, neither of us currently on parole, as we passed through security at the entrance to the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa a few weeks ago.
Different world, isn’t it? They’ve been patting down fairgoers for several years now. Why people of our ages, I will not understand. The problem darlings are young gang members who, on the carnival midway, give vent to their worst urges. While sister Kathy and I were sampling a few spooky rides on the midway (they fascinate me still), around that time, we would later learn on TV, a kid was stabbed by a rival gang member. He survived okay. Another night at the county fair.
Maybe it’s time to repeal the carnival. Even it is a far cry from the much simpler, far less frenetic Foley & Burk Shows that once set up the Whip and the Thimble Theatre Fun House, the Giggle In and the 10-in-1 sideshow. And a Ferris wheel that, compared to today’s sky-high contraptions that flash like Vegas, looks fit for a Victorian high tea.
It’s no fault of the carnival owners; they do the best they can. It’s something about a zone of whirling action where restless teenagers meet up as hot summer darkness descends. Santa Rosa, once a sleepy small town, does not go peacefully into the night anymore.
Come October, there’s the three-day Harvest Festival, with wine tasting, crafts and jazz music. Now, that appeals. No midway, thank you!
Here are some photos of captives playing my board game inventions: Me; my victorious sister beating the so-called "inventor" at his own latest creation, called Train Derby; and “the Dame” of Ditherhood, Judy, recently of L.A.
Still love the sweet pungent smell of the cow barns. Sometimes the right whiff provokes rich memories I can’t put into words of how going to the fair when I was a kid made me feel. Wonderfully connected to something very real outside myself ...