Ozarks Viewpoints

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reunion drawings

Although they were always suspicious of being illegal, part of the Irwin-Easley finances, especially right after World War II, was the raffle for a new automobile. It never was exactly certain how the post got their hands on a new vehicle, which they took all over the area selling one-dollar chances.

The first year the carnival owner won the auto and took the keys out of town. This caused some concern within the community about the project, and it was decided to be eliminated due to the possibility of a large ticket buyer winning.

However, the next year, the project was salvaged when the Saturday night drawing was held, and the first ticket drawn was for Clarence Oldaker, a member of the Post, who quickly went to the podium, turned down the vehicle and told committee member to draw again.

The second ticket drawn was that of Bill Baker, a Cassville resident who did not have an automobile at the time.

Reciprocal

For a number of years, there was a joint cooperation between the American Legion and Cassville Rotary Club on their individual events held on the Legion grounds. Always, the reunion was to be the first event held on the grounds with Rotary's rodeo to follow in a few weeks.

During the reunion, a check on the number of tickets sold for rides and shows required a local sponsor to provide takers at each event. This was a joint agreement between the carnival and Legion.

Then, when the rodeo dates rolled around, the Legion members, well experienced with parking vehicles on the grounds, would handle this assignment as their part of the cooperative effort.

In the ticket-taking department, a hard choice had to often be made to assign the correct person to the "girlee" show on the midway. One Rotarian volunteer was first in line to seek the assignment each year, whose name shall not be mentioned.

Event prices

During the 1960s, which were banner years for the Legion, when ride and show prices would vary from 25 cents to 35 cents throughout the midway. In this span of time, contracts between the Legion and carnival would specify the number of major and minor rides, the number of midway shows and the number of joints that would ring the outside of the midway.

There was always an agreement between the two that undesirable games or badgering or encouraging youngsters to participate would not be permitted anywhere on the midway. As with about everything else, travel expenses caught up with the reunion several years back, and ride prices or the charge for arm bands were steadily increased until some were in the dollar or plus range.

Dispute

Razorback's tenure in Cassville came to an end a number of years ago when some sort of dispute existed between the owners and the Legion. In lieu of their show date here, the carnival would leave their West Plains location and set-up, at least in part, in Seligman before moving to the Grape Festival.

During the Seligman stop they would make whatever repairs were necessary and more than likely bring the show back together due to transportation problem, which always existed.

In this respect, Razorback, as well as all carnival units, were always grateful for the reception they received here during their show date, especially when some of their transportation units needed repairs.

Value to business

When a disgruntled businessman complained to the Legion about the amount of money that was leaving the town, we opened the books to him to show just how much went to the carnival and what the Legion received. He saw the light.

At the same time, we asked carnival people to give us some idea of what they spent in Cassville for fuel and supplies. They always relied on Bill Horner Oil Co. to keep their generators and vehicles running.

They also told us how much they spent for groceries, and it being the time of year for the show, many frequently outfitted their children for the coming school year due to the favorable prices found here.

Steep history

Missed are the days of the old reunion grounds, the Hoot Gibson taxi from town, the annual bridge across Flat Creek from the Pearce parking lot to the north. Then there were the political talks, the coin tosses, greased pole climb usually won by Leon (Curley) Howard.

The enjoyment of the boat rides powered by an out-board motor by Gene Blankenship, which was the first seen here. Riding the Ferris wheel and swings -- both took you high above the trees in the park.