Way Back Machines

Lights and Music across the harbor tonight.

If you are as old as I am (give or take a few) and you grew up in Scituate then you know that the third week in July is the week of the Knights of Columbus Carnival. Haley and I took a friend and went over tonight. The girls played a few games and rode on a few rides and I kept looking around for my youth.

The Carnival has seemed different to me in the last few years. I remember vividly all the parents of many of my friends had roles in what is recalled as a much bigger midway with more life, more vibrancy. I can see Mr. and Mrs. Lee running the concessions – cooking up corn on the cob and burgers while you waited. Mr. Brady ran the whole thing and would take us around in the weeks prior and have us put up signs all over the South Shore. I reminded Mark Brady just tonight that there was one year when I think I poured every soft drink anyone who came to the Carnival bought. Mr. Brady plunked me down in the booth with a zillion barrels of soda and a gun with all the buttons on it. There was a Carnival store back then – all of the prizes were in there and you could get sent running for something at any moment. I can see and hear Mr. Charrier calling out to the crowd to buy one of the raffle tickets. On the Sunday after there would be a big party at the K of C pool for anyone who had helped out.

I wondered as I watched them ride and play if Haley and her friend would recall the carnival as I do. Would they have that same sense of the community pitching in and having a blast or would it be another set of rides and a chance to see some of the kids from school that they have missed since getting out? The latter is my instinct but I could be wrong. There are neighbors and friends down there working hard at it. There are people down there with the same instincts to help out, to have a laugh doing it, to bring a crowd together innocently.

That said, something was missing for me amidst the smell of fried dough and the call of the barkers; some edge, some unique sense of place. I wondered if kids felt differently because there are trips to Disney World now and in those years I described there was no Disney World at all. No one flew; everyone drove on vacation. The Charriers had a converted van. The Bradys had their amazing bus. Maybe it was easier to be amazed in a world with only three channels and rabbit ears for UHF.

There will be four more nights over there and we will watch the fireworks on Friday and Saturday from our new perch. It may be that nostalgia isn\’t kid stuff but I would have liked my kid to have that same feeling that I had once upon a time, those days when the way back machines pulled into Scituate Harbor for the third week of July.

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