Saturday, April 01, 2006

Carnies or Show People?

We've been called "Carnies" as far back as any old Carny I know remembers. And I've known some pretty old Carnies. We refer to ourselves as "Show People" We work on the "show" or "the road". The public will always call us Carnies though so that's how I will address us here.

The "Show" has cleaned up a lot in the last 30 years or so, appearance wise. It's not the "Carny World" of old anymore. The wild looking people aren't so wild looking any more in comparison to the average youth and even adult of these modern times.
Although the spirit still lives on in the now dwindling group of old timers and their stories about "Carnies" past and a time now not so long gone, it's not the same. There are a lot of fresh faced kids saving for school or just out for a summer adventure. It's not really the closed community it once was. Corporate America has seeped in and watered it all down with their drug testing,rules and conformity.  
The show is like a small town that travels from city to city, it's a community. There's a cook house, a school, a laundry facility, a small store, and bunks and trailers way back behind the rides.

The lot where everything is set up belonged to the show when it was in town, the cops didn't bother us much, we did what we wanted as long as we kept it contained to the lot.

The only time we got any real hassle was when we'd pull into the scales on our way to another city, then they would really rake us over the coals. or if we were out on the town in the bars then sometimes the locals would give us a hard time.

When we would pull into a city we'd park our bunk trailers and immediately start setting up. It could be grueling, especially if it was a short jump and you didn't get much sleep.

That's where we'd live for the whole season, not motels, in a bunk trailer. Our whole lives tucked into a tiny bunk.

My bunk was a little smaller than a jail cell. Having a bunk all to yourself is rare unless you've been around awhile, I had my own double bunk. The boss used to joke that I was too grumpy to stick in a bunk with someone else. The truth was it was really a show of respect for me and the other long timers who had their own double bunk. We got our own space. We earned it. I never took much on the road. A sleeping bag, some clothes, lot's of shorts, work boots, a rain suit, rubber boots, just the basics. Always travel light.

Once in awhile I would shack up with some Carny girl for the season, it beats sleeping alone.
Most Carny women were completely fucking crazy, but I remember every single one I was with over the years. Though I was never one for long term relationships I remember each of those women fondly. It can be nice to have someone at times, especially if you find one that kinda looks after you and cares about you.
One that comes to mind in particular as I write this was a slim auburn haired beauty named Lynn Marie who was my lover and bunkmate many years ago. One night I was angry, I mean really pissed. Something had broke on one of the trucks and I had a jack in my bunk and I was furious that I couldn't find it. It was then that I looked up and saw her cowering at the end of the bed and shaking. I knew she had come from a volatile upbringing and was usually mixed up with some asshole who abused her but that's all I really knew. I didn't realize the effect my anger had on her even when not directed at her. 
I hugged her and kissed her and never acted that way around her again.
We spent all of our time together after hours and on the rare day off we had.  She rode with me every jump and was my constant companion. We took care of each other in all the ways a man and woman should. Had I have been the type to settle down with one woman she would have been perfect for me. But I wasn't wired for it.
She was a true Carny through and through and seemed to innately understand our temporary relationship and the transient nature of our lives. We never talked of love or settling down with each other. We lived one day at a time and one day our time ended and she left to work another show. I never saw her again. 

1 comment:

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