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A “fair” tale


Mary Jane Owen

  The annual Kiwanis Fair was rocking and rolling at Windy Hill Park last week. In my youth, this annual event was greatly anticipated. The Fair was located in what is now or was The Big Springs, sandwiched between Atlanta and Lawrenceville Streets. I lived at the top of the hill across from the park on Atlanta Street. The noise emanating from the rather sleazy midway kept us awake at night, but was a reminder of our rural roots because the best of what Henry County could produce was on display: prize cattle, hogs, vegetables, pies, crafts etc. were all on display. The screams were signs of folks having fun riding the Ferris wheel or maybe the Caterpillar. It was all in fun.

 The real deal was the great Southeastern Fair located at the old Lakewood Fair grounds. My parents loved to treat us to this outing every year and it was an affair to remember. (Sorry I just could not resist.) We saw all there was to see, rode a few rides that were age appropriate, the merry-go-‘round” and maybe the bumper cars as we got older. By then, the wooden platform that provided the excitement of the roller coaster was about shot so I was spared of having to brave that. To this day, I am a victim of “aero acrophobia” fear of high and open spaces. Otherwise I’d have been stupid enough to get on that thing, unwilling to be shown up by my fearless sister. I do remember a side show demonstration by a man whose misguided effort was to sell my parents an early version of a food processor. Seeing in the audience this pitiful little girl with the Coke bottle eye glasses, he called me to the platform, had me sip an orange liquid and insisted that liquefying carrots would cure my crossed eyes. For the first time I knew humiliation and my parents quickly rescued me. To this day I know my Dad exercised great restraint.

 But this isn’t the tale that needs telling.

 In the fall of 1955, our FHA group, (Future Homemakers of America as it was known then) led by the indomitable Mrs. Fred Beers (Miss Aggie) was invited to provide a demonstration at the Fair in an exhibit hall. I cannot remember if we modeled or demonstrated our sewing prowess or if we did a cooking demonstration; it really matters not. Whatever we did was good and sufficient to earn us all, about fifteen of us, passes to the midway. We were delighted and set off to take in the place. I think maybe we did do some of the rides but we got the notion that our passes would allow us to visit the Follies, a “girly” show. The barker was really impressive so we all handed up one of our tickets and took our seats in a darkened room, outfitted with simple wooden benches. Why there was no age limit for being in the audience, I’ll never know, but it was a Saturday morning and the crowd was sparse. Getting on with the tale, girls in various stages of dress or undress danced around on the stage, pranced provocatively to our great astonishment. Innocents we were, our eyes never having beheld such as this but, we bravely remained, slack-jawed while clinging tenaciously to our seats or each other. All the while we prayed that Miss Aggie would not come along and snatch us out. Had she known, believe me, she would have!

 With diminishing bravado some of us hid our faces, but we peeked through our fingers. It was a site hard to resist and while we were confident that we were committing a terrible sin, we just could not get up and leave. That would call attention to ourselves but truth be told, we could not overcome the curiosity and the temptation. As it turned out, the best was yet to come: the Grand Finale, the star of the show, Miss Dolly Dimples herself, a floozy, very plump blonde bombshell, took the stage clad in very little but some thin veil-like material. Her great contribution to the show, the highlight of the whole shindig was her amazing capacity to move in amazing ways what the Good Lord had blessed her with in abundance. I could not have nailed this at the time, but my guess is that these amazing glands were 38 triple Ds. But that was just half the deal. What she could do was a sight for sore eyes. Attached to the business parts of these gifts were round things, which I know now to be pasties, and fastened thereto were tassels which she could make move in circles to the right, then reverse motion, over around, down, “ever which way”. Of course the few men in the audience howled, and clapped with glee, as expected. What did we do? Well one of our group hid under the seat and began praying, but most of us watched, paralyzed with amazement. Finally, gathering our wits, fearing that the devil himself would come upon us, we made a hasty exit just praying that Miss Aggie or some adult from Henry County would not see us. We headed for the Golden Tornado bus, boarded and for once rode quietly back to McDonough. Little needed saying, those who felt really guilty picked up the praying. But it must be said that once we were safely in the privacy of our own homes, a few of us anyway, tried out Miss Dolly Dimple’s tricks. Sadly to little effect. We were just not that blessed!


  Mary Jane Owen is a veteran educator. She has two children and one grandson. She’s an avid Braves fan, reads, writes, and gardens.




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