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Monday, May 30, 2011

Memory Monday

Each Summer for the last 13 years my parents have been food vendors at local festivals and fairs. Their booth specialties are nachos, hot dogs, cotton candy and funnel cakes, with various drinks available.

The life of a carni is hard work. 12+ hours a day in the hot sun in a tent that has boiling hot oil. The show literally went on through pregnancies, appendicitis, the flu, horrible sunburns and even chemotherapy.

Money earned each summer paid for missions, vacations, Christmas, a headstone and day to day living expenses.

When Mom died, my Dad finished the season with Heather and now works as her employee making cotton candy.

Along with all the hard work and long days, we also walked away from that chapter of our life with many many memories. Welcome to Memory Monday.

The festivals.

  • There were two teams because we often worked two shows on the same weekend. Mom and Heather were 1 team. Dad was the other team. Gina and I tried to be on Dad's teams as often as possible. We were guaranteed more fun, better pay and we didn't have to work for our food. Gina ended up on his team a lot more often than I did. It was an extra bonus if we were on that team at the same time.
  • Our first year at the Kitsap County Fair, we were inside the 'businesses giving all the crap away' building. We didn't have the same setup as we'd had for every other show we'd ever worked so Gina and I set up new 'code' for people's orders. If they wanted a powdered sugar funnel cake we punched each other and said 'pow!' If they wanted a cinnamon sugar funnel cake, we would grab the others shirt, try to 'steal it' and say 'cin'. (sin.) One time a lady wanted a cin/pow cake and as I was going to grab her shirt, I accidentally grabbed her breast. We were both surprised. I just said, Sin! Pow! and walked away.
  • I got a really nasty sunburn in Oak Harbor. Almost every year. (Yes, I wore sunblock. No. It wasn't expired.) The Langos People (Katrina and Micky, owners of the trailer and makers of the Langos or Hungarian Elephant Ears) were not our friends. Somehow we didn't hit if off. I went over to their trailer to buy a Langos and she commented on my sunburn. It didn't look that bad yet, it was still early in the day. By the evening I was as red as a cooked lobster. Katrina came over behind out booth, handed me an aerosol can and said in her deep Hungarian accent, 'This will work. It's from my country. Not legal in US.' It did work and we have been friends with Katrina and Micky ever since.
  • Another time we were next door neighbors with the Langos and Katrina came over to our booth to visit.  She was watching her husband work and she said, 'See that fat, ugly, old man? He wasn't fat, ugly or old when I married him.' He just looked over at her and smiled. They love each other and it is sweet to see them together.
  • Heather and I ate 8 elephant ears at the Lacey fun fair in 2003. (I never knew I'd live here one day.)
  • Two years after Robert died, I finally got around to ordering his headstone. They are really expensive! The cemetery told us we could make payments on it and once it was paid in full they would order and place it. That seemed reasonable to me. Every so often Ken and I would make token payments on it, but the balance was not going down. Then Mom got an idea. At every show we had a tip jar. For one summer the tip jar said, 'For Robert's Headstone' and people donated like crazy. One man bought a funnel cake and asked my mom about the jar. She gave him the reader's digest version and he asked if Robert's Mom was in the booth. Mom got me and I talked to the man for a minute. He handed me a $100 dollar bill to go towards his fund. It was an amazing summer. We witnessed many generous acts of kindness from total strangers. Robert has a headstone.
  • I was hypnotized and lip synced to a Brittney Spears song in front of 500 people. (Not really going to give you anymore information on this one, unless you pay me large amounts of money.)
  • Gina and I got matching henna tattoos at Whaling Days. Three little stars on the top of our right foot.
  • Another summer in Oak Harbor meant another sunburn. I was in the lobster phase and a guy walks up to the booth. I asked if I could get him something. He looked right at me and said. 'Not a sunburn!' Ha Ha. Funny. He bought a funnel cake.
  • One 4th of July we had two shows on the same island so we all camped together. Mom and I finished at 5 and Dad went until 8 or 9. There were rides at Dad's show and he wanted to ride the one that was a big circle. You went forwards, backwards, and in circles going both directions as well. I rode the ride with my Dad. I was really scared but I'd never ridden a ride with him so I was determined to do it. They buckled us up, started going slowly back and forth and that part was okay. Once the 360s started, I covered my head and prayed for it to be over. I told Dad I couldn't even tell if we were up or down anymore and this is what I heard. "WOO! We're up! We're down! yeah! UP! DOWN! UP! DOWN! slowing! going backwards now! UP! DOWN! WOOOO!!! You get the idea.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. I'll have a special Memory Monday Edition. Happy Memorial Day! We've been in Washington 1 year today!

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