Emma just started horseback riding lessons. She sits tall in her English saddle, looking as though she was always meant to be there. Our love of horses. June had it. I had it. We sat on sawhorses holding a rope and shouting, “giddyup!” Horses.
I asked June what it is that she liked about the fair. The carousel. I should have known. I, on the other hand, always got sick on the merry-go-round that went round and round and round and round. I think I’d better stop there.
A few years back June was researching carousels. She came out here where we tracked down merry-go-rounds. Then we had grandtwins (Yes, I make it one word. I’m a writer. It’s my style.) We have a favorite place in Salem, Oregon, where a carousel waits for us. In the backroom of the building, the kids can actually watch the carousel creatures being carved. The last time it was a cow wearing rain boots. Their artistry is fascinating, and, to tell the truth, Loren and I are captivated with this adventure as well. We love to watch the kids go round and round on their horses. So where in the heck did carousels originate? Hmm. Sounds like a column to me. June, this one is for you.
Let us start with the name. Of course, we know merry-go-round and carousel; however, there are a few more names: galloper, jumper, roundabout, horseabout and flying horses. (Hmm. Bet you didn’t know that little fact.) Carousels started in the days of jousting. Knights galloped in a circle as they tossed balls to one another. In fact, the word carousel comes from the Italian word garosello, which means little battle. (You can find this all online.) In the 17th century the balls were tossed aside and the gold ring came into the picture. Shoot a spear through the small ring and hone your skills as a warrior. I personally think grabbing a ring is better than target practice. Of course, kids mimicked adults, as they do now, and this all became a game. An early carousel was set up in Paris where wooden horses sat for the children to play upon. You ‘fair’ly well know the rest.
The classic carousels we have today are rare. More than 4,000 carousels have been built in the United States. Today only 150 survive. So when you sit your child or grandchild onto the seat of a carved animal this year’s fair, remember the rich past of this, the oldest carnival ride. And, of course, our historical love of horses. Giddyup.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.