Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tales From the Road

Introducing a monthly feature that explores life on the road traveling with the carnival. For some, it is the thrill of the open road, the opportunity to see the sights and meet interesting people along the way that makes the journey worth it. By no means is it any sort of dream world filled with glitz and glamor; you are tired and dirty and hard worked pretty much every day. While I can only speak for myself, what makes doing this worth the effort, is having the ability to interact with the public. There is no better job in the world than being yourself and making money from it.

Starting things off with my own experience, and encourage others to submit their own stories: lenorelovelace@gmail.com


In 2005, I had the opportunity to travel with one of the last remaining 10-in-1 sideshows in America. The owners had toured carnival circuits for about 15 years with a menagerie that carried a full banner line and canvas tent. Eventually they expanded into sideshow, though at times had considered sticking with the menagerie [for various reasons]. The story that follows was written during those five months, slightly edited for content and grammar, as well as changing names to keep the people slightly anonymous.

July 21, 2005 - Heading West

Packing is a strange thing. You have to find room for everything you want to take while making sure you will be able to remember where it is later on. Well, I managed to fit all of my clothes in two suitcases, utilizing the smallest one for my shoes. That’s right, just for shoes. Also had enough space for all of those small and yet very important items. No matter what, you are always thinking of something else you need, because the last thing you want is to be far from home and realize that you forgot something. You can buy stuff on the road, but it is better to have something so you do not have to spend money.

When organizing the luggage is all said and done, it is time to put it in the car. Packing a car is a fine art, tell you what. It is a long process, but when done right, it is a satisfying feeling.

Received well wishes before departing, which was touching.

Picked up a few provisions and gas, then was on the way from New Jersey into the depths of Pennsyltucky.

The drive was long and I knew this before I even started. There was not much scenery along the way, aside from farms and woods. Two stops were made to get out and stretch the legs, as well as to put some food in the stomach.

When I finally reached town, that was when things went wrong. Wound up driving around in circles for a few hours, attempting to find the fairground in Bedford, PA. Long story short, was glad to finally arrive, eager to meet everyone and get some sleep. Could tell that my boss, his wife, son and the son’s girlfriend were good people. We stood around to bullshit for a while, listening to some funny stories about being on the road. When someone is in this business for such a long time, there is an endless vault of information. By the way, these people are totally not the kind of Carnies one often hears about, so I am wondering where the bad reputation and negative stereotype comes from.

Certainly could have listen to them talk all night, however, the need for rest was too much. Spent the night sleeping on a mattress in the back of the spook house, as the other quarters had not been cleared out yet. It was not that bad, actually, just higher off the ground than what I am used to. Slept just fine, for the first time on a carnival lot.

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