Friday, May 9, 2008

A Writer's View

Many authors of my aquaintance have posted views from their office or writing space window. My office is on the third floor of our old house, so I view the world from tree level. 363 Days a year the view is quite mundane. We live across the street from the back of the Middle School. So on a typical day, I can watch the kids running laps in gym class.

But once a year, on the first Thursday and Friday of May, the school festival - know in these parts as May Fete - arrives. On these days, I have a totally different view.

Around here in the small suburb I live in, May Fete is a big deal. The festival has been happening since the beginning of time, or at least as long as anyone living can remember. Tradition holds that school is cancelled on Friday, and rides run both Thursday night and all day Friday.

Beginning on the Monday leading up to the big day, trucks arrive pulling rides and games, and the set-up begins. Now, if you don't happen to live across the street from a festival, you may never have considered how exactly those movable amusement parks come and go. Here's a few shots of the set-up this week.

The Pharoh's Curse receives its head (top right). The Merry-go-round is still packed up in its truck, (center right). Three men assemble the mini-roller coaster (bottom right). And of course, no festival would be complete without the all-popular Monkey Maze! (below).

Living across from an amusement park would probably be considered the dream of many children. Who wouldn't want a field full of rides in their backyard (or front yard, as the case is here)? And we do have fun. Every year we set up a buffet on our front porch. The kids run back and forth, and tired and weary adults - particularly those running the game booths, stop by to sit and relax and, later in the afternoon, drink Margaritas with us (the adults, not the kids). And did I mention endless access to funnel cakes for two whole days?

But when my kids were little, May Fete was a week of sleepless kids. Not only was the anticipation hardly bearable, but each night the carnival workers test the rides until way past bedtime, the multi-colored lights flickering in through the windows. May Fete at night is a really spectacular display -- better than Christmas. To get the full impact, you really need to see it in action...

But the most impressive part of May Fete is the illusions of what was. On Friday night, everyone goes to bed and sleeps soundly, tired from the long day. Everyone, that is, except for the workers. The workers stay up all night, disassembling the rides and packing up the game booths. By Saturday morning, nothing is left in the field but empty cups and an amazing collection of silly-string wads in all colors of the rainbow (Don't ask. It's part of the tradition.).

And the view from my window becomes mundane for another year.


kc dyer said...

Cool view, Jenny!


Lottery Girl said...


Great photos! Sounds like you guys know how to do carnival the right way.

Jenny Graman Meyer said...

Kc and Lottery Girl,
Yes, things are crazy around here for a few days and then poof! everything's back to normal. But it's not everyone who gets to have a carnival in their front yard!

Niki said...

How I loved the May Fete when I was a child! It was absolutely magical to me. Do they still have the King and Queen? The Royal Court? I hadn't seen that view of the middle school in nearly 24 years. I am grateful for your photos. Have you heard the Ghost Story about the custodian that never leaves the middle school and the floating red balloon??? Still makes me shiver.
Sweet Wyoming, fond childhood. Your blog brought it all right back to my heart, and made me a little teary eyed. On a completely different note - is the library still in its original location? How I loved that library!

Jenny Graman Meyer said...

Glad you stopped by! I thought about you as I was writing this, but I've been so busy I haven't had time to follow back up with you. As far as I know, May Fete is still as traditional as ever - king and queen, court, the whole bit. They played around for a few years with other ideas - a Friday/Saturday schedule, family nights, etc... But it seems to only hold up as a one-day event. So May Fete goes on as tradition has dictated.

I've never heard the ghost story! I'll check with the kids tomorrow. Or maybe just my son, ghosts freak my daughter out.

The library (I assume you mean the public one) is still in the same place, and probably tinier than you remember! (not that it's actually changed size) Wyoming tried to convince the library to build a new, bigger branch to the South of the Civic Center (the tennis courts are gone, and the city owns the next house down the Pike), but it was right in the middle of a fiscal crunch, and we were actually lucky to keep a branch. Greenhills (I think) and a few other small branches closed. The library is a popular place for kids too old for after school care.

I've got more May Fete pictures, if you need a bigger fix. p-mail me your e-mail address over on the forum, and I can send them to you!

Niki said...

Thank goodness that tiny library is there, still. It was one of my favorite places in the summer. I used to check out albums to musicals to listen to at home!

The tennis courts are gone? Wow! I *tried* to play tennis out there a few times with friends.

Do the high school seniors still put on a show at the Civic Center? Does the Civic Center still have that mini-bowling area in the basement?

One more thing - is there still a grocery store called Big Melon nearby, and next to it used to be a bookstore? I loved this place,too.

Let me know if you learn about the ghost of the middle school. My friends who used to live across the street on the front side of the middle school(Wyoming Ave?) often saw this apparition and the red balloon.

Lynne said...

Okay. I have a neat view, too, but can't remember where my camera is.
I shall put a link to you on my site.
Thanks for visiting. Excuse me, is kc dyer the one who used to visit the Stampede? Just wondering. See you! Oh dear, which Niki cried? Hugs.