When our eight children were growing up, the most awesome week of summer was Fair week. We always went at least once.
We did the rides first while their stomachs were relatively empty. We’d coax them from the rides with promises of “eating out” which wasn’t as common then as it is today.
Ten cent ham sandwiches and a gallon of orange drink in the WDRK tent filled them up long enough so we could advance to the midway where the games were.
Games that gave a prize every time were our choice for our younger ones. For some reason they were always drawn to the dart games. Maybe it was because we didn’t let them play with sharp pointed objects at home.
Every year we warned the person running the game to stand aside. And every year they’d smile confidently and pass out darts as the kids counted out quarters.
After the first round fired by our army hit everything but the game board, the guy running the game would quickly join us on the midway and then encourage the kids to fire away, and “try to keep the darts in the booth.”
They were always nice about letting the kids choose whatever they wanted in the cheap prizes no matter what they really won.
One time our sweet, curly-headed, 4-year-old daughter chose a ring with a monster face above a skull and crossbones in screaming purple and neon green. She was the envy of the neighborhood when she wore it.
Every year, no matter how we schemed to avoid it, we’d end up at the game where they threw ping pong balls into little goldfish bowls. A ball in the bowl won a fish.
The first year we took home two slightly stunned fish which were in the bowl when the ball hit the water. The next year the fish weren’t in the bowls, but in a tub to one side.
The most memorable of all the fish we brought home was Goldie, who was won by our oldest son one year. He kept Goldie in a separate fishbowl on top of the fridge most of the time “for safety’s sake.”
It worked. Goldie was still going strong after the others had gone belly up. He became quite a pet, swimming to the side of the bowl anytime anyone tall enough to feed him came into view.
He swam happily in his little round bowl for almost a year before he died. I heard the oldest one’s wail from the kitchen, “Someone murdered Goldie!”
As I hurried to the kitchen I said, “That’s impossible! No one would want to kill that fish.”
The oldest one looked accusingly from the belly-up fish to the wet peanut butter smeared knife on the table by the fishbowl.
At that moment the four-year-old sister entered and announced, “I fed Goldie peanut butter. At first he didn’t want it, but I stuck it in his mouth.” Stuck seemed to be the key word.
“You murdered him!” her brother yelled.
“I just fed him” she said in her own defense.
I went to find a little box to bury Goldie in as I tried to figure out how to heal all the psychological trauma this was going to cause both of them.
When I returned they were all gone, including the fish.
I found the whole crew in the garden, planting corn like Indians—put a dead fish in with a grain of corn for fertilizer.
Did it work? I don’t know. It was all forgotten by the next day.
And now our kids know why I laugh hysterically when their kids win fish at the Great Darke County Fair.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Aug, 19, 1998.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at [email protected] Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.