thread: 2006-09-13 : Halftime!

On 2006-09-14, Curly wrote:

I've worked as a carny, tho the hardcore guys might dispute that claim; as I always had cushy gigs such as driving a golf cart to pick up cashboxes—with a local sherriff literally riding shotgun.

Later I traveled by airline instead of truck and stayed in nice hotels—because I knew how to put up a big tent. It was my job fly-in and show the day-laborers what they had to do.

The greatest carny I remember was a Charles Manson lookalike with a missing front tooth.  He owned one faded denim jacket and 2 faded pairs of jeans.  He slept on haybales alongside 4H kids' animals.

There's some sort of womens' jail alongside the Dane County fairgrounds.  The building is a plain box with a high chainlink fence around a back yard.  They let the delinquent girls out-back for an hour or so each day, to garden. The girls stumble out into the sunlight, squinting and blinking like dazed groundhogs, wearing donated clothes long out of fashion.  We'd wave and talk to them thru the fence.

But the greatest-carny guy had an impressive arrangement.  He befriended one of the girls and learned that she was let-out daily to work at Duncan Donuts.  She had 45 minutes to walk there, and her boss would call the jail to report when she'd arrived.

So every morning she'd come outside, fool-around in the hay with the greatest carny for 40 minutes; and he'd race her to work in a pickup in 5 minutes.  At the end of the day, she'd take a cab from work to their meeting point—he'd pay the cabbie and they'd eat cotton candy and hold hands for 40 minutes.

My carny days ended when I was fired for refusing to remove my cowboy hat for a fairgrounds ID photo in Milwaukee.  But that's a whole other story.

This morning I went to Pier 94, where a fashion tradeshow is being constructed.  I stood around in the shape-up, hoping to be picked as a last minute hire.  No luck.  But watching the rows of booths being raised reminded me of midways going up.  I remembered the greatest carny—when a union guy told me 'Try again tomorrow. It will be much better. There will be lots of fashion girls bringing in clothes.'.


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