By Doris Schroeder
The sparkling lights of the Kansas State Fair have again mesmerized our fair city into a galaxy of sparkling rays. Waves of memory swept out from its scintillating, dazzling brightness that shone out from the turning of the Ferris wheel to the brightly-lit carousel, bobbing up and down in magical fashion. As a child in younger days, I was so intrigued with the glamour of the bright lights of the fair. It signified all the hopes and dreams for the future that I had envisioned and hoped for. As our family drove down Plum Street, I would pretend that I was going to the fair…to stay as late as I wanted, and to spend money on anything and everything. It was magic and mysterious and mythical, all rolled into one exciting experience!
I can remember going to the fair in the forties. Even though, we all worked diligently hard on the farm and Dad worked at Cessna, money was not easily had during this time. Mom had to plan out how we were going to go, how to get some money and how to work out the transportation.
Mom had it figured out. We all arose even before the rooster crowed her wake up call. My parents caught three or four old hens and put them in gunnysacks and put them in the trunk of the car. Mom, my little sister, Carol, and I all rode along with Dad as he drove down the driveway, Sunrise Road, around the curve by the river, past Medora, and finally to the Schultz produce in Hutchinson, a block off of East 4th. I guess some money changed hands for the hens and we had our spending money. Dad got us to the Fair grounds as the sun was beginning to rise and he made his way to work.
The big plan was we were to meet my mom’s sister, Olga, and my two cousins, Dickie and Johnny. They, too, had hitched a ride from Buhler and they would go back with us when Dad picked us up after work. Since Dad worked a twelve-hour shift, that would be the length of our stay at the fair.
The sun beat down unmercifully as we wended our way through the Mid-Way to the Grandstand during the day. In the afternoon, we sat down under some trees on the grounds and tried to get cool. A water fountain nearby helped to assuage our thirst. Our mothers told us we could choose two rides to go on. We all voted for the merry go round and I think we all enjoyed that.
I had a little of my own money and told everyone, I was going on the ferris wheel. Dickie and Johnnie were impressed when I bragged later what fun it was to look out over the whole countryside. I could see they wanted to go, too, but were too afraid. Finally, Johnnie, my younger cousin, braved the ride and he, too, thought it was wonderful. We both tried to talk Dickie into going but for some reason, he was too chicken to ride it! We finally gave up.
Our mothers had brought some food along and so at noon, we sat on the grounds of the fair and ate our fried chicken and potato salad. Mom had also brought a chocolate cake with fudge frosting and Dickie ate a lot of the frosting off. I told him not to but he didn’t listen. He was funny that way. Besides, my mom sure could make a good fudge frosting. It tasted like candy.
As I think about it now, I am amazed we didn’t get food poisoning or heat stroke or anything along that line. We were probably toughened to the living of the forties. We didn’t even think of germs or that we needed to wash our hands in the germicide of today. No one had ever told us we could get sick!
I know that God looked out for us and kept us from getting sick. He must have had a purpose for us and since we have accepted Christ as Savior, he has plans for us.
Now the years have gone by and hubby and I still make it to the fair…with difficulty. The last twenty years we have had fun entering John’s garden exhibits and my painted gourds. We will take them down this Friday (the 11th). Then we will come back in the evening to see how they were judged and we will have the fun of writing them down. Our walking is getting harder so we will park near the gate, walk in and wait for the tram to take us to the Pride of Kansas Building. Later, we will enjoy the fruit cobbler and coffee that sell in the building. Later, we will again catch the tram back to our car. If it rains we will get to cover. We certainly didn’t have to spend a twelve-hour day like we did in the forties. I wonder, are we getting soft in the world we live in today?
Maybe we are just “fair weather” people!
Doris welcomes your comments and can be reached at [email protected]