She was 21 and he was a few days from his 31st birthday in 1929 as they strolled hand in hand around the county fair in the September heat. There were plenty of chickens, cows, horses, sheep, and other animals at the fair and the building housing exhibits was full of canned goods and handmade crafts, all displaying ribbons they had garnered – or not. She led him to the crochet and embroidery section to show him the blue ribbons her work had earned and then they ambled out to take in the carnival that always came to town when there was a fair.
They rode the Ferris wheel, passing the shooting booth and the sword swallower who also swallowed fire. They discussed and wondered why anyone would want to swallow either of those things. And then there they were, right in front of a penny pitch. The stair-stepped display held such lovely dishes and all you had to do to get one was to toss a penny into it. To show off his skill in throwing he stepped up to the line with five pennies in his hand. He asked her which dish she wanted and she pointed to a large shallow bowl on the lower shelf. It was marigold colored and iridescent and would look lovely on a dining table.
After three tosses, he learned that pennies went into shallow dishes but they also slid out the other side. In trying to get a penny to stay in the bowl he elevated his pitch to try to get the coin to come straight down into the bowl. He over-compensated and the penny landed in a smaller basket weave bowl and stayed there. With great ceremony, he handed her the small carnival glass bowl and offered to keep trying for the larger one if she wanted him to. No, she didn’t want him to spend more of his money trying to get a different bowl, he had already wasted four pennies to get the small one and she was just as glad to have it as a small one would be as good as the larger one as a good reminder of their day.
Three months later they married and began their family in the first year of marriage. It wasn’t until 13 years later I came along and called them mom and dad and became the last of their eight children.
The little carnival glass bowl was kept by mom all of her life and came to me after she passed away. I have no daughters to pass it to so it is going to my niece, my sister’s daughter, and will, I hope, stay in the family and the story be told after I’m gone.
Yes, I still have the vase that held the dozen roses he sent her on their first anniversary, but that’s a story for another time.