Monthly Archives: June 2010

Running the Ride

Waiting impatiently outside the entrance to The Hamptons – a six-car carousel that seats 25 – are about four dozen children between 30- and 46-inches tall. Too young for single-file lines, they instead vie for my attention by waving ride tickets clutched in their tiny fists. The clamor verges on chaos. I motion them to step back so I can open the gate. Once it’s unclasped, they pour in, running for the motorcycles, of which there are only two. A crossed-eyed kid with a mullet doesn’t make it in time and begins screaming. His sisters and I lead him toward… Continue Reading

Circling the Park

Traveling with the carnival provides a lot of quasi-downtime, meaning you can’t stray far from the job site yet have time to kill. During our set-up in Waukesha’s Frame Park, which flanks the Fox River, I spent a bit of time wandering the grounds taking pictures. Here are some of them. « Previous Next » /* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15Continue Reading

Blood, Sweat and Beatles

A classic carnival ride, the Tilt-a-Whirl, due to its many heavy pieces, is known to Carnies as the Iron Bitch. Set-up day begins at 7 a.m., when the boss, Corina, raps on our doors, telling us to come get our draw. The prospect of going the day without cigarette or beer money is enough to spring even the most hungover from their bunks. I’m naturally an early riser. By seven, I’ve already showered and gone for coffee. When Corina rounds the corner to find me sitting on my steps reading a book, she looks at me like I’m some sort… Continue Reading

Truth and Consequences in Carnieville

Unless a Wenzlow says it, it isn’t true. That’s the mantra around here, meaning never take anyone at their word unless it’s one of the three Wenzlow daughters who run the show. This hard lesson was learned yesterday when a rumor spread through our ‘hood that we had the entire day off. I even wrote yesterday about having the day off. And for most of the day this was the case. The morning began as usual, with showers, coffee, everyone sitting outside their bunker smoking cigarettes, talking shop and waiting for their $20 draw. The usual suspects bartered goods and… Continue Reading

My First Days as a Carnie

Waukesha, WI – Being a Carnie is pretty much what you’d expect it to be: lots of drinking, stories and hard work. My stint began Sunday, in Rosholt, on the final day of the carnival there. Tear down began a 5 p.m. For the next six hours, roughly 20 people broke down just as many rides, loaded them on or fastened them to the trucks. After, almost everyone got drunk, listened to music, cooked food and showered until eventually falling to sleep. The next morning we tore down camp and hit the road for a four-hour drive to Waukesha, where… Continue Reading

A Day at the Farm

Walworth County, WI – Early last week, 14 grade school students from the Four Winds Waldorf School outside of Chicago visited Turducken Farms in Walworth County, Wisconsin, for three days of agricultural and naturalist education. I was supposed to join them, tag along, get an eyewitness account of the learning that goes on here, but it rained the day of my scheduled visit. Then, the day after, I became lost when my GPS went bonkers and my calls to the farm went unanswered. By the time I turned onto the farm’s half-mile driveway, the kids were long gone. It was… Continue Reading

Sunday 7: Fathers’ Day Songs

Father’s come in all varieties. Some are awesome. Yet some are sex offenders. Others deal drugs. Many don’t pay child support. Many of these are alcoholics or drug addicts. Father’s are sometimes detached emotionally, strict or domineering. Some don’t spend time with their kids at all. Others demand too much. Sometimes fathers murder their kids, though this is statistically a woman’s undertaking. Fatherhood for some is really challenging. Fortunately, most fathers do an a-okay job. They might get an occasional DUI, keep a mistress or get into a fist fight here and there, but over all they tend to be… Continue Reading

Dr. Evermor’s ‘Junkyard of Dreams’

Sauk County, WI – Before there was steampunk, there was Dr. Evermor, an artist whose scrap metal sculpture garden is something from the set of a Tim Burton film. Across from the Badger Ammunition Plant on Highway 12 is Dr. Evermor has created an industrial landscape Wired magazine aptly dubbed “a junkyard of dreams.” Evermor began building these curious creatures and magical machines in 1983. Dozens of creepy birds and giant insects populate the property, which is hidden from the highway, and numerous imaginative machines – with names like the Overlord Master Control Tower and the Celestial Lightening Ear – Continue Reading

Joining the Carnival

Tomorrow The Feral Scribe begins an interesting new leg of the this summer 2010 adventure: as a carnie. That’s right, for the next several weeks I’m traveling around the Midwest with a carnival. I found an ad on Craiglist and within a day I get a call. The lady tells me she needs me up in Rosholt, WI, by midday Sunday. She became really excited upon learning I have a valid driver’s license, adding that driver’s earn more. So that’s that. I’m running off to join the carnival for a few weeks, after which time I’ll head south, toward the… Continue Reading

Lights Out on Lynxville

Lynxville, WI – Takeaway its river banks, its forested bluffs, its three taverns, one motel and not much is left of Lynxville, except for the 174 people who still call the 1.4 square-mile village home. They have their reasons for being there, but I’d venture to guess none would offer up it’s because Lynxville is a remarkable place. It’s perfectly unremarkable. Even Mitchel Caya, who founded the village in 1848, later moved to Seneca, where he lived until dying. Most of Lynxville, its buildings as well as its people, are old and dying. Its population is shrinking. Its homes are… Continue Reading
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