Now I know you’re going to ask what a splinter has to do with a Tilt O Whirl. As I near the three-quarter of a century mark, things from my younger days often pop into my head from something that happens or something someone says. The pain from the shot I got last week made me think of an incident from the summer I was either twelve or thirteen.
It was either the first or second year I was in the saddle club, and a group rented a school bus and went up to Sidney, Iowa to the annual rodeo. There was a carnival on the rodeo grounds also. Now my favorite carnival rides have always been the Tilt O Whirl and the Scrambler, and I wanted to ride the Tilt O Whirl. My mother wouldn’t let me ride alone, and no one would ride with me. Like a typical twelve or thirteen-year-old, I was pouting.
A group of us went over to the corral where they kept the bucking horses. I immediately climbed on the wood fence and ran a HUGE splinter under the fingernail of my left index finger. By huge, that thing was almost 1/4” long and close to 1/8” wide. AND IT HURT!
Of course, no one had a needle to try to get it out. So Dave Hull – who was in his mid-twenties and on whom I had a gigantic crush – pulled out his pocket knife, ran the blade through the fire of his cigarette lighter and prepared to remove the splinter.
His fiancé, Jean Ann, handed me a coin purse and told me to bite down on it. It was one of those plastic coin purses that was clear on one side and black on the other. I bit.
Dave cautioned me to hold my hand still. I mean, his pocket knife wasn’t sharp enough to cut my finger off, but it could have caused some damage if it slipped.
When the splinter was finally gone, I took the coin purse out of my mouth. I had bitten down on it all right – I hadn’t quite bitten a piece off, but there were holes through both layers of plastic.
But, I DIDN’T CRY!
When it was all over, Dave took me for a ride on the Tilt O Whirl since I had been so brave and not cried.
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I only remember one other thing about that trip. Johnny Treadway was sitting in the middle of the back seat of the bus and had those long legs of his stretched up the isle of the bus.