The Fayette County Fair has always meant great fun and excitement, not only for the young, but also for the “young -at-heart.”
One of my favorite fair memories is of 1942. WWII had been declared and all of us reached out for any distraction from the battlefields where so many of our young heroes had been sent to fight for our freedom. Far too many of them gave their lives so far from home…
My father had taken the afternoon off and I was urged to invite a favorite playmate to attend the fair with us. While he and mother enjoyed the exhibits – stopping to chat with friends along the way – my pal and I rode on our favorite rides, faces plastered with cotton candy and tummies sloshing with sno-cones.
We also enjoyed the side shows – “Happy Dot, the Fat Lady,” who chatted pleasantly with us, while seated in her specially-constructed chair. Down from her was a glass-blower, who demonstrated his art before a large gathering of interested fair-goers. He graciously gave us girls a tiny, pink glass vase for our playhouse.
Of course, we giggled all the way through the “Fun House” and realizing dinner in the food tent was next on the agenda, we knew we would have to “pretend” to be hungry for that delicious food…
After the meal, we climbed up into the grandstand for that evening’s show. It featured the famous country music headliners, “Lulubelle and Scotty”, from “The Chicago barn Dance” heard weekly on the radio. They were charming entertainers and great singers. The capacity crowd loved them. Among their songs that night was one Scotty had written for his wife, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” This was a big hit for him through the years and was recorded by many other artists.
It was quite late when the show ended and tired, but happy, we made it to the parking lot to search for dad’s car.
While reflecting upon many happy years of fair attendance, I remember one year when I was otherwise detained. Fast forward with me to July 28, 1953 when I had given birth to our first daughter at 10:30 p.m.
In the corridor of Fayette County Memorial Hospital that night was Mick and my husband’s longtime pal Police Chief Rodman Scott, who happened to be at the hospital on police business. The two men checked on the newest member of the Mickle family and when they returned to my room, Rod said, “Shorty” in there is a “keeper and she looks like her dad.” I was pleased to hear that.
Rod asked Mick to go out to the fair with him to lock up the grounds at midnight. Dr. Roszmann was in the room with me and he urged the proud father to go, “Jeanne will be asleep soon and will sleep all night.”
The next morning, the new father came by early, on his way to work, to check on us. “Have you named our girl yet?” he asked.
“I certainly have. She is little Miss Michelle Mickle, but we will always call her ‘Micki.’” I chose the most sophisticated name for when she grew older and might choose to follow a business or professional career.
That “baby” just retired from a 30-year career in the legal field working for major development corporations. She has been an unfailing joy to her family, an outstanding student, feature twirler in the band and twirling a fire baton. She also won numerous journalism awards and as a student at the University of South Florida (Tampa), her professors believe she had the talent to make a brilliant career as a writer. I was thrilled, of course.
“But, mom,” she said, “I don’t ‘burn’ to write as you always have.” She did work as editor of the local weekly Florida paper where we lived and she was well-received. But the law career beckoned and away she went. (We had been competitors for news her first year as local editor and we laughed about fate).
We gave Micki a beautiful wedding at our church, followed by a public reception and later a private reception for 100 invited guests. Her only child Amanda Jean, now a Texas businesswoman, has always been the apple of her grandma’s eye.
I recently spent a week with Micki and her husband at their comfortable home in Columbus and helped her convert her home-office into a long-awaited den – (computer, however, always at the ready along with wide-screen television set.)
The years we all spent at the fairs of long ago were never lacking in great times. We got our special, little girl during that fair week long ago. It is especially wonderful that I have her to share memories of her dad, who was always so close to her. We lost him in the year 2000.
Every year at fair time, I think back to that broiling hot night when Micki was born, before the days the hospital was air-conditioned. When the nurse brought her in to meet me the following morning she warned, “It’s going to cost a lot to keep this girl in shoes. Look at those long narrow feet!”
I am not ambulatory enough to get around the grounds of our fair, but I have never lost the memories of the fun it always provided. So go for it, friends, and enjoy it to the utmost! So many caring citizens still continue to make it the best one around.