chairs

Children on old fashioned Merry-Go_RoundIf you were ever a kid, I’m sure you have been on a merry-go-round. Still, I doubt if the one you were on was exactly like this old merry-go-round from days gone by. I have never seen one that had actual chairs on it. I showed the picture to Bob, and he thought you might be able to hang on better. Maybe, but it would not be something I would be willing to test. You see, I hate merry-go-rounds…and any other ride that spins in a circle, usually far too fast, and definitely far too long. Even as a little kid, I got off of the merry-go-round almost as soon as I got on, and I’m quite sure my face had changed from pink to green. I can’t say why that bothers me, but it always has. I can do other rides, like Roller coasters…provided they don’t incorporate spin into the mix, and I can do a ride like the Ferris Wheel, that goes up and over…just not a spinner.

While I am not the person to ask about how fun a merry-go-round is, I can tell you that there are lots of kids over many years who have had the best of times on the merry-go-round, and the funny thing was that it didn’t do anything fancy. In reality it simply let a child be twirled without the parent having to be dizzy too, another good thing for me, because that was almost as bad as the merry-go-round.

Most people don’t have the issues I do with merry-go-rounds, and for them this would be a lot of fun, and in reality none if these kids are trying to get off of the ride. As a child, I remember all of my cousins running for the merry-go-round at the family picnics. And I know my girls liked them too. And if they could get an adult to push them so that they didn’t have to make it go, they were in 7th Heaven. Of course, the adult usually got worn out pretty quickly, and the kids were on their own again. Nevertheless, kid leg power worked pretty good too, and those who weren’t having to push had a really great time.

I checked into the history of the merry-go-round, or carousel, and was amazed to find out that the earliest known record of a carousel was in 500 AD. I couldn’t believe that. Of course the first one was different than what we see today, and had a very different use. It had baskets suspended from a central pole, and was use to train soldiers for battle. Wow, I guess I can see that, but it’s still very odd. I think I prefer the more modern version, whether it is the simple style in a park, or the one we see at the fair each year, with horses and carts.

A number of years ago, the local paper in Casper, Wyoming ran an article about my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg. The article was about his hobby turned business, and was entitled, “Another Kind of Chairman”. My father-in-law took old lawn chairs that had damaged seats, and used cord to re-weave them into new chairs. The seats and seat backs of his chairs had designs in them for football team logos to musical notes. He also made tin men that hang from a hook and wind decorations for fences. He was known throughout Casper, and everyone knew his house, because of all the yard decorations he had up. It looked really cool.

Recently, my father-in-law was in the hospital for several days. At 83 years of age, this is a periodic occurrence. After a few days, he was released, and when we got home, he checked the messages at the house, and found that a woman had called about having him make some chairs for her. He told me that he couldn’t do them anymore. He had some to do already that he couldn’t get finished. You see, his vision isn’t so good right now, and he is weaker than he has been in the past. He had known this was coming for a while, but I hadn’t realized it. I take care of my in-laws, but I was too focused on health care issues to notice the unfinished chair in the living room hadn’t really changed over the past few months. And, since I’m not there every minute of the day, I was unaware that he was no longer making tin men, and in fact had given the last one he made to his sister, Esther…something she was very thankful for, because it is a treasure to her.

As I called the woman back to tell her that my father-in-law wouldn’t be able to make the chairs she wanted, I decided that we needed to take down the sign he has on the outside of his house, advertising the chairs. Later, when I mentioned to Bob that we needed to down the sign, it occurred to me that this was the end of an era. He had been making those different things for so long that I couldn’t really recall just when he started. I do remember him making a stick pony for my girls when they were little. That would have to be more than 30 years ago. So many people have been thrilled with their chairs, but sadly, as people age there are things they can’t do anymore, I know that, but this didn’t seem like something that he wouldn’t be able to do, and the fact that it is makes me very sad. Sad for him, and for the people who will not get to enjoy the things he made. Sad that this is the end of an era.

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