The Cummington Fair Series
I don't particularly like fairs. My father was a carnie. Just knowing this makes me see the backside of the event so much more. While I can appreciate the happy qualities which harvest festivals are based on, the truth is that Josie Soho® really isn't Susie Sunshine. I search out the bright and shiny moments everywhere but I am always acutely aware of the underside of life. This is a perspective no one ever expects from me. That's a funny thing. It's strange to be born with looks which belie what's inside.
I hadn't thought of going to our local fair. Bebe insisted on it. He thought it would provide me with an opportunity to shoot and open up my perspective.
I was late gettting to Bebe's house and he was hesitant to go. Bella and I encouraged him and he agreed. When we got to the fair Bebe was still feeling a bit unwell and just wanted to sit. Bella and I walked him up to the second story porch of the Main Exhibition Hall.
I have so many memories of that place. Strange to juxtapose them with my life now. My father setting my brother and I up with a booth on the midway where we hammered out rings made from spoon handles to sell. We were teenagers. Sitting at the fair for three days and two nights was quite an interesting experience. We were situated at the strongman bell ringing pole. On Saturday night all the men came after surreptitiously drinking beer to take their turn with the hammer and prove their prowess. Sweating and good natured yelling while straining with all their might to swing the hammer and ring the bell.
Where bebe was now sitting was just above the dining hall where I'd first worked as a waitress serving turkey dinners. A self conscious twelve or thirteen year old country girl serving simple fare to farmers and older gentlemen. I remember the bandleader telling me how pretty I was and leaving me an extra tip. Sometimes my cheek would get pinched for emphasis. How strange to be rewarded for something I had little, to no hand in.
Beyond that I remembered the carnie who trapped me and my friend on the ferris wheel during our break from serving. He lashed at our ankles every time we passed the bottom with a toy whip. It hurt. We screamed and yelled. No one took us seriously. We went round and round till that angry young man got bored with us.
I don't see fairs as happy celebrations though I take pleasure in watching and shooting.
Bebe was feeling better when Bella and I returned to him. He was glad we made him go. I feel the same though I'm not certain I'll return next year.