A brief moment of nostalgia . . .
As a kid in the Ozarks, I always looked forward to our town's annual carnival.
This wasn't the time of parades and street-dancing before Lent but the autumn week that the funfair 'Carnies' came to town. They arrived in that indefinite period between the end of the Little League baseball season, when the ballgrounds were emptied of players and could be filled with rides, and before the weather grew too cool in the evenings.
Sometimes, these carnivals occurred in conjunction with the harvest festival and fair, when farmers would display their finest, fattest livestock and women their best fruit preserves.
Well, I could look at a pig any day of the week that I cared to, and a jam sandwich could be had for free at home, so I'd avoid those sights and tastes and head straight for the rides.
Since our family was poor, I had to choose rides with care. Naturally, I selected the very rides that I would most avoid today -- the Stratospheric Ferris Wheel of Decompression, the Whirling Octopus of Oblivion, the Careening Coaster of Collision.
Okay, I made those names up, and the rides probably only seemed big to a small boy, but they were fun.
But what most sticks in my mind now were the songs that played. At these carnivals, I first heard such classics as Johnny Rivers' Secret Agent Man (1966) and the Hollies' Long Cool Woman (1972), the kind of songs that promised anonymous danger and mystery.
Precisely what I wanted from the carnival.