Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Spring Cleaning

Granted, the spring season seems particularly far off with the colder temperatures we're seeing, but why not take a moment to consider the yearly tradition of amusement maintenance? Traditional parks are marvelous places, and are skilled at conveying a sense of escape through beauty, dizzying motion and childlike frolic. Historic carousels are perfect examples of all three elements, and require a lot of work to remain operating smoothly and attractively. Here we have an artisan and a handyman, polishing and painting a standing carousel horse.

The handyman wears 1920s-styled overalls, and the painter an early-1920s day dress, trimmed at the hem for free movement. The carousel horse is loosely based on the figures carved by the beloved Philadelphia Toboggan Company, one of the finest manufacturers of carousels. Let's have a look at the trappings, which aren't unlike the beautiful, complex details that PTC's carvers created so long ago...

As well, a quick glance at the material in the painter's dress. Fabrics of this era were often woven with lightly colored, at times metallic, threads, in order to create interest as the dress moved with the wearer's body. With a simple draped lapel and full skirt, her dress is simple and graceful - the perfect thing to don on a warm spring day.

Sadly, Texas is rather lacking in the historic, Philadelphia-style carousel category - an acute aggravation to a true fanatic for such things. However, plans are in the works for a summer visit to a true bastion for these machines - Knoebels Amusements in Elysburg, PA. Even if the moment is fleeting, my fix will be attained, and my mind will once again be rampant with the joys of whirling glory. Here's to these marvelous pieces of history, and the stewards who keep them happy and healthy.

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