Tonight we took our little big family to a local carnival. Sponsored by the Lions Club, the Kiddie Carnival is over 40 years old and is on every citizen's and near-by-town citizen's must-do summer checklist. As a toddler and up, I patronized the carnival, which today has the same rides as it did 40 years ago. I could list all the rides which are fenced in an area probably of about an acre or so, but the only one I really want to highlight is the airplanes. As my oldest child waited her turn at the parachutes (I know I said airplanes, but I will get there), a little girl in the green parachute chair let chunks fly. Yes, motion sickness is as common as the commonality between all the rides: they all go around and around. Even the roller coaster goes in a circle. As a preschooler in 1973, I also tossed my cookies, snowcone and probably popcorn, but did so on the wing of the little red airplane in which I rode.
Fast forward 25 years, and once again I found myself tossing my cookies and popcorn while in a little red airplane. When I was a reporter for a local newspaper, I did feature story on an air show that had come to town. The pilots did interviews, photo sessions and complimentary media rides before the show. They also offered complimentary cookies and popcorn while you waited your turn. A couple, or three or four popcorn bags deep into the afternoon, the photographer and I finally climbed aboard a 1940-something red Staggerwing (an American biplane) that had been beautifully remodeled. Along for the ride was a beer rep whose company was a sponsor of the show. The interior was immaculate. I sat in the back with the rep so that the photog could sit up front and maybe get some cool pictures. The sky was flawless that fall afternoon and we sailed through the air effortlessly. Then the pilot turned around to us in the back and said "Are you ready?" Not waiting for an answer, he swooped that little aircraft through a series of acrobatic, upside down, rollover maneuvers. When he turned back around to us, so that he could receive his praise and admiration face to face, I guess my face was green. He fumbled frantically in the pocket that was on the back of the neatly and probably expensively reupholstered seat in front of me to quickly hand me a little brown paper lunch sack. I filled that sack so close to the top that I could only pinch it closed. Our return flight was with little flair, but we got to the ground swiftly and thankfully without further incident. I dropped my little brown bag, now speckled with wet spots, in the nearest trash can and went back to the office to write my story.