In the 1960’s as back-to-school classes replaced bringing-in-the-harvest chores, we “young’uns” anticipated a special tradition. 

In the 1960’s as back-to-school classes replaced bringing-in-the-harvest chores, we “young’uns” anticipated a special tradition. On a Tuesday afternoon in early fall — the day students were admitted free — Mama and Daddy (Ruby and Bud Lett) picked up my brother Jimmy, my sister Carolyn, and me at Broadway School. And we excitedly headed for the biggest playground in Lee County: the fabulous fair.

As we entered the gates of the fair we were tantalized by the aroma of candied apples, cotton candy, freshly made taffy, hot dogs smothered with onions, slaw, and chili, and greasy French fries laced with ketchup.

With the wonder of Christmas morning we watched the familiar Merry-Go-Round and sought new thrilling “toss-abouts” that might offer the refreshing burst of butterflies in our stomachs. My brother Jimmy was a dare devil and became hell on wheels in the bumper cars. My sister Carolyn preferred the gentle motion of the Ferris Wheel. I opted for the roller coaster that always stopped short just in the nick of time before throwing me and other riders into outer space. That would become a metaphor for my chaotic life!

Carolyn and I always met friends at the fair, and one time Pam Womack, a classmate at Broadway School and a neighbor in Buckhorn community, rode with us. A taunting hawker convinced us that we had not lived until we rode the spine-tingling Cyclone. After we were locked tight in a large cage Pam and I moved faster and faster until our bodies bounced like rubber balls and our screams almost burst our lungs. Chaos reigned. I heard Pam praying louder and louder saying, “Lord Jesus, help me, Lord Jesus, help me, I’ll never sin again, I’ll never sin again!”

As the spinning slowed and we moved toward the off ramp, Pam’s face was white as a sheet. We held each other’s hands so tightly our nails dug into flesh … friends trading drops of blood in a forever bond.

Arm in arm Pam and I pretended not to hear the call of the silk-tongued men praising parading “prancers” and dancers on stage at the “hoochy-coochy” show. Pam’s mother Lena never dressed that way, and my Mama pulled us forward, exclaiming in a shrill voice, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in those vulgar clothes.”

Like good little girls Pam and I headed for the exhibit halls, enjoyed the sweet aroma of freshly baked pies and quiet splendor of pickled cucumbers, and relished the sounds of roosters crowing, cows mooing, and hogs snorting. We watched the beauty pageant where we cheered for “Miss Broadway High School” and made fun of hairstyles and evening gowns that didn’t match our sense of fashion.

Tuckered out and aware that we “Cinderellas” — dazzled wide-eyed country girls — would turn into pumpkins soon, we looked around once more at the beckoning bright lights. Just before we left Pam whispered in my ear, “one more ride.” We headed back to the thriller that had provoked Pam’s tormented prayers and sealed our sisterhood. Together we boarded the Cyclone, all too aware that the frightening screams from our hoarse throats would have to last us until next year.

AlexSandra “Sandy Lynn” Lett is a professional speaker and the author of “The Harvest, Timeless Lessons for an Abundant Life’; “A Timeless Place, Lett’s Set a Spell at the Country Store”; “Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart”; “Timeless Recipes and Remedies, Country Cooking, Customs, and Cures”; “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections about Work, Family, Health, and Spirit”; and “Natural Living, From Stress to Rest.” See www.atimelessplace.com. AlexSandra can be reached at 919-499-8880 or LettsSetaSpell@aol.com.