Posted 09-12-2004 at 05:28:21
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My daughter and her husband at Ocean City and wont be back until tomorrow. In the meantime, Nancy and I have been driving to their place to feed and water their dogs.
Little Jade spent last night with us. My son dropped her off around 5 pm. Well, my wife posed the question, "Do you want to watch the baby or go take care of the dogs"? Now, I'm a pretty good man in nearly every respect but there's one area that I have trouble in handling. I don't know what to do when a baby cries. I get excited and nervous and my poor bewildered brain goes into rapid shut-down mode. Moreover, I'm constantly worried that my arthritis will cause me to lose my grip and the baby will fall from my arms. So, knowing that the dogs were anything but fragile, I oppted to take a drive.
On my way back, I drove through Churchville, Md. and the Big "M" Drive-in Theatre. Which, by way of mention is one of the very last outdoor theaters left in America. It has been in continous operation for longer than my memory can span. It was there when I first settled in this area way back in 1955. How long before that, I don't know.
The Big M attract a lot of old car enthisiast from the surrounding area. For years, people would bring their beautifully restored vintage jalopies there and raise their hood to expose an over abundance of chromed engine parts. And, they would do what restorers do best, which is to claim subtle bragging right for their accomplishments. And, about twice a year, the Big M puts on what they call, "The Big M Bash". This was the weekend for the last one of the season.
The Bash attracts people from distant points. Many of which bring their motorized living quarters which they set up in a large open field adjacent to the Theatre. In addition to the usual admiring public, there is a lot of venders with their tents and trailers with the lift-up sides for displaying their wares. And, this time, there was a carnival atmosphere to the whole shebang with three or four Kiddie Rides and a Ferris Wheel.
Now, there was a lot of traffic and, the going was slow as I passed the drive-in. Police officers were directing and stopping traffic for the care entering and leaving the field. As I sat there waiting for the traffic to move, I looked for and found a colorfully lettered sign on a truck parked near one of the rides. It read, "Rosedale Amusements"
Now, I have a story or two to tell about Rosedale Amusements. For, as a young man, I worked with the show. It all started when George Rohrig, who drove a heating oil truck during the winter, and operated concession stands at a carnival during the summer, asked me to work for him. I was about 20 at the time and the job seemed like a good way to meet girls so I said sure to his offer, With the stipulation that it not interfere with my day job. The show he worked with was Rosedale.
In those days, the show was owned by a very fine older man named Tom Gaylin. Tom had two grown sons, who helped run the show. Over the next there seasons, I would work off and on for George and the Gaylins. That came to a stop when Uncle Sam decided I'd had as much youthful freedom as I needed and drafted me into the Army. What was so bad about their timing was owing to the fact that when I was eighteen, I made an effort to enlist but was turned down for medical reasons. But, at twenty-three, I was no longer medically unfit. It's funny how, when I need the Army, it didn't want me. But once I was established in a good paying job, my own apartment, a new car and other amenities, they start throwing monkey wrentches. Go Figure.
Now as it turned out, I came home on leave the next summer and I went with my younger brother,who then worked with the gaylands to a carnival in Elkton, Md. When I got there, Tom asked me if I'd like to run one of the concession stands during my time at home. now, based on what the Army paid,I was happy for the offer to work. So, it was a few nights later, as I was in the stand, I saw a commotion breakout down the midway.
I immediately ran down there only to find a circle of local guys in a circle and my younger brother flat on his back in the center. Well, I broke through the young men and helped him to his feet. I was furious and demanded to know who had hit him. he explained he didn't know cause he was hit from behind. Now, that only served to further infuriate me so I challenged the group to a fight, I recall saying something foolish like one at a time or all at once, makes no difference to me.
Well, a slinder young James Dean Look alike stepped up to be counted. He approached me with his hands, palms exposed, in a below the waist, spread out position, and said "Ok, big man, I'll take you on". Now, knowing if I backed away from this youthful looking young man, I'd probably induce the others to jump my frame, so, I did what any wild man would do, I drew back and unleached Hell in the form of Hard knuckles upon his face.
The whole affair was over, his buddies helped him to his feet and they left without further incident. I finished out the week there in Elkton, went back to Ft. Sill and finished out my time in the Army and then returned home. Got a Job with a contractor on a section of I-95 that runs through Harford County.
About 3 years later, I stopped in a diner in North East, Md. for Lunch. As I sat there a young man came up to me and asked if I was Mr. Putnam. I said yes and he said well sir, I'd like to shake your hand. I was a little befuddled as to why but I said Ok, and extended my hand to his.
As he shook ,my hand, he said, you're probably wondering what this is all about. I confessed that It was a little puzzling. He then pointed to his mouth and said, do you see these teeth? Well sir, these are store bought. You see, he continued, you knocked my front teeth out on a carnival ground at the elkton high school a few years ago. And, I just wanted to shake your hand and thank you. For, he continued, I was headed down a path of destruction. But, luckily, you came along and knocked some sense in my head. And, my mother told me if I should ever see you, to shake your hand and say thanks, not only for my self, but, for her as well.
Who would have ever figured that. ....gfp