Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dunkirk Travelogue 2008 - Part 2

A Family / A Fair

We had a wake up call set for 9:30am. Good thing I have a great internal clock when I sleep as the call did not come. Still, I was awake by 9:15am and excited for our day ahead of us. This trip was for my 25th high school reunion and there were events planned on both Friday and Saturday. Still, I had a few plans for things I wanted to do on Friday as well so I got the family up and ready to go by 10:30am.

First stop was to my aunt's house, and along the way I gave my wife and son a quick tour of stuff (pointed out my old middle school, the hospital where I was born, the house where the local country club's golf pro lived, the florist that sold great stick candy for pennies back in the day, etc.). My aunt actually lives in the house my grandparents lived in growing up (she lived next door, but now her youngest daughter lives there while she lives with her middle daughter in my grandparents' old house). Anyway, we dropped in for a quick visit and to pick up two things: directions to my middle cousin's cottage where we'd be having dinner that night and tickets to the county fair.

After getting some breakfast/lunch at the Bob Evans, we headed over to the Chatauqua County Fairgrounds. The reunion dates were picked, in part, to coincide with the Fair, giving folks who were coming back home another event to take part of. Growing up, the Fair was a huge thing every summer. I'd often go for a day with my youngest cousin, to ride the rides and play the games and eat the food. We'd also go with the whole family on Wednesday night every year; Wednesday was traditionally the night of the Joey Chitwood motor show. We always had a ball at the Fair.

Going back after 20+ years as a 43 year old adult, the Fair seemed a bit smaller. Sure, most of the same things were there: the exhibit hall for crafts, the livestock buildings, the I Got It game, certain concession stands still owned and run by the same families after all these years, the midway laid out in pretty much the same fashion with the carnival games down one aisle and the rides up the middle, etc. It just seemed smaller from a grown up perspective. It didn't take too long for us to check most of the things out. We did, however, ride a few rides including the Tilt-A-Whirl or, as I called it after one ride in my youth - the Tilt-A-Hurl (because I mistakenly drank a Pepsi after riding it then and did not make it to the nearest restroom in time - you want to make someone made at the Fair, go and barf in front of their booth.).

After a few hours, we went back to the van which we parked for free at the D-F Plaza lot, and headed back to the hotel. There we took a few minutes to take a walk around the water front of Lake Erie harbor. The weather was nice and cool, and the pathway along the breakwall that protects the harbor was nice place to just walk and talk. Again, I shared memories of growing up here, of swimming in the lake when it wasn't so polluted, of fishing on the dock with my father, etc.

After our walk, we drove out to my cousins' cottage for dinner. Now, that was an experience too. Turns out this community has a creek that runs through the center of it down to the lake. To get to my cousins' place, you have to drive through the creek. Yup, you read that right. Luckily the creek was low so it wasn't too challenging. There we visited with most of the family, had a dinner of hot dogs, potato salad, corn on the cob (locally grown, yum) and birthday cake. My three cousins all celebrate their birthdays in the July/August months, so for the first time in a long time we had a family birthday for them. It was just like when we were growing up. We had a lot of fun.

At 9pm, it was time to say goodbye to the family and head back to the hotel to get cleaned up. It was time for the Friday evening portion of the reunion festivities!

(to be continued...)


KC Ryan said...

The Joey Chitwood Auto Thrill Show! Who could forget?! I loved that show every time they'd come to the New York State Fair over in Syracuse!

Also liked the milk. They pulled up one of those huge refrigerated tanker trucks? Round bodies and all? And filled cups with the best tasting cold milk ANYwhere. It was awesome.

AND the 101st Airborne - the Screaming Eagles - ran a ride where you slid down a rope, attached to a sling. Afterward you were made an honorary Eagle and got a patch - still have mine!

Good time...


Martin Maenza said...

Sounds like Joey Chitwood made the rounds in the 70's and 80's, eh?