Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paging Dr. Bauman to the North Horse Barn Immediately

The week of the Lorain County Fair. Back in the day, this was also known as the family vacation. We plopped our camper down in the circle on Saturday night, brought our “projects” in on Sunday and started a week of mass chaos. Imagine going on vacation with all your friends from school, but only half the supervision, because most parents still went to work during the day.

Several years ago, my aunt in Kansas asked my brothers and I to share our fair memories, so she could get her grandkids excited about started 4-H. I’m not sure this was what she had in mind, but this is what I sent her.

I dedicate this post to Gerri, Jenny, the Andolsek boys, and the Tansey cousins. If I could choose to live one week of childhood over it would be fair week 1988 - the summer before we started high school. I have added some text in italics as observations around my visit yesterday.


“Barn Duty” or “Barn Doodie” – You could hear this being yelled at any given time, in any given barn, to signify that someone’s horse, cow or steer just took a crap close to the public’s walkway and needed to be cleaned up. (They don't yell this any more and with the exception of the sheep and pig barn, most of the barns look like crap - literally. Kids have no respect for a clean barn. You could have EATEN off the floor of my barn was I was on barn duty.)

The year Zestie Bea freaked out because someone had to hammer in a stall gate and she ripped her nostril on the bucket hook, requiring the vet to give her a tranquilizer to stitch her up. And the year Zestie Bea freaked out because of the tractor pull and cut her eyelid on some unseen protrusion in her otherwise immaculate stall, requiring the vet to give her a tranquilizer to clean her up. Oh wait…same year. (I can still see the look on Dr. Bob's face when he realized he was seeing the same horse. I will also never forget how heavy a horse becomes when you are trying to keep it from falling down due to tranquilizers.)

Midway Obstacle Course – For some reason my friend and I found it very fun to see how fast we could complete a walk around the midway at its most crowded time without bumping in to anyone. Yes, entertainment! (The Midway has not changed. At all. It is still filled with idiots who will try to get in my way. However, Zoe totally hustled one of the games and came out with a "jumbo" prize stuffed dog which is currently named Bert Brady. It's a girl. It cost me a whole $3.)

Asking mom for money to get some dinner; then asking dad for money to get some dinner. Dinner would consist of either one slice of the greasiest pizza known to man or two ice cream sandwiches. Remaining money spent trying to win a mouse. (Last stop yesterday was at the Milk Barn for an ice cream sandwich. FYI - Milk Barn is the name of the booth, I didn't milk a cow and make my own ice cream sandwich. FYI 2 - For the love of god, people. All cows are girls, all steer are boys. Why it still drives me crazy when people call steer "cows" is beyond me, but it REALLY does.)

If not on Barn Duty, the Sheep Barn was the only other acceptable place to hang out. Close enough to see parents entering from the campground gate, but far enough not to hear them calling you before you snuck out of the barn the other way. (I heard there were some next generation Andolsek boys with some winning lambs this year! I once won a ribbon for participating.)

“Horse Backing” and “Horse Coming Through” – Our own way of proving to everyone that we were in charge and everyone must bow down to us and get out of our way. (They still do this. My faith is restored.)

Convincing first timers they must get licked by a steer and/or thrown in the manure pile as a right of passage. (The manure piles didn't seem as big this year, the horse people have switched thier bedding from straw to saw dust. That is probably not as fun to get thrown into. Personally, I don't feel complete without touching the sandpaper tongue of a steer once a year.)

Sitting in the Born's camper when everyone was "home." I defy anyone to not laugh when Bill, Donna, Jason and Molly are all in he same confined space. Three stand up comedians and the exhausted wife and mother. "Oh, Molly." I can hear Donna's tone of disapproval like it was yesterday. Man, I love that woman.

But the best part about fair...

Camp circle fry pies.

Going to bed while you could still hear the parents talking softly around the fire through the thin camper walls.

Waking up at dawn while it is still foggy (it was always foggy in the morning) and cold (it was always cold in the morning) and the closer you get to the barns you start hearing the roosters and then the cows as they are led to the milking stations, but that is it. Everything else is silent. Everybody’s eyes are half-closed. The animals are still lying down. But at some point, and you can’t put your finger on it, everything changes. People are yelling for misplaced pitchforks or a horse is kicking a stall or someone turns on a radio and it starts all over again.

There are a few times I have come close to this early morning silence, but without the roosters and cows, it's just not the same.

It makes me a little sad that my kids won't be in 4-H, but then again it's changed so much they would have never had my experience anyway. Zoe did request a draft pony so she could drive it in a cart. I told her to ask Papa. Morgan would still prefer a rabbit. I think a goat would be absolutely ideal.

My scrapbook from this era was pretty much destroyed in a basement water incident, but I did manage to salvage a few things.

My 1988 exhibiter's pass.

 Me and Zestie Bea's first year together.

Good times...good times.

Andolsek boys.

 Last horse show in 4-H 1991.

1 comment:

  1. Is there a word for feeling nostalgic about something even though you've never experienced it yourself? Because that's how your writing and pictures made me feel, especially the paragraph about waking up at dawn.

    Also, I have a clear memory from years ago of John taking me to someone's farm where he was keeping some calves, which I assume he was raising for fair. One of those sweet animals sucked on my finger and looked at me with those big beautiful eyes.... and I have not eaten veal since. Seriously. And I LOVED veal.