It's been a long time since we had a season like the '56 season. That was the heyday. It seemed like we couldn't sell enough stuff, and everyone wore the biggest smile. We had the tourists and business folk funneled in from the new highway, and business could not have been better. Bertha always used to talk about all the kids she got to talk to. We had Iowans, Nebraskans, and even some folks from California. I recall a couple of Canadians on the carousel. When we closed in November, the boss said that next season would be even better.
But it wasn't. When we threw our doors open the next season, the crowds did not flow in. We had a crowd, sure, but not standing room only. We put on our best faces though, and we made sure everyone was entertained. I made sure that everyone had a fair time at the games. Even though it wasn't the hubbub we'd had last year, it was a good season. Boss knew we were disappointed, but he tried to keep our spirits up. "Next year," he said, "Will be the best for sure."
It wasn't. We had nothing. Hardly anyone came by. The city council started to harass us about permits and taxes. Bossman said it would be taken care of, but when the constant stream of civil servants outnumbered the families, it was a bad time. At least we still had a few families then. Even if business only came in a trickle, they still visited. We weren't in the hundreds, but the dozens. When we closed up shop, Bossman said things would be better soon. Times were tough, but we were the Funland Family, and we would pull through.
Things changed in the '59 season. The town seemed to have dried up overnight. The Dixie highway looked like nobody had paved it in months. There were all these people with weapons and equipment. I thought we were being shut down. But Bossman said to keep up "business as usual" so we could have that great season we needed. So the team kept up the happy faces. Bertha did her 2:00 shows, and Aron served up his gumbo pretzel sticks. The people would come in and poke stuff, but it never brought business, or the families.
Sometimes they had kids in with them, sometimes with adults, but never real families. I can't even remember the last time I saw a real, smiling family here. It's become so sterile. Seasons have come and gone, but nobody cares and nothing seems to change. We don't see Bossman anymore. He left a letter on the floor and walked out a while ago. The people took the letter.
It's darker now. The shows don't happen anymore. If you go in the arcade all we have is a cracked skee-ball table and an empty skill crane. Everything else is broken or gone. The others have changed. Everyone seems less happy and more bitter. If a kid came in today, they'd snap him. It's not that any one of them wants to do it. Nobody knows what is going to happen. If Bossman had given us a way home, maybe things would be different. We're here till he says otherwise.
Sometimes… Sometimes I still remember the end of '56. I think we can be there again. The traffic is gonna flow again, and the lifeblood of tourism will flood into this creaky old house. It'll be next year. I can feel it.