Back in the mid 1970s when I was about 10 (had not hit puberty yet so it was about then) I went with a friend to his grandmother’s house in West Virginia. We went with his whole family for a week visit in order to go to the West Virginia state fair. I remember it fondly. We had a blast. He had two brothers and the four of us were dropped off every day and could roam, ride rides, play games and do whatever we wanted. That was the early 1970s in a small town at a state fair. Drop the kids off, let them have at it and pick them up in time for dinner.
By the end of that week all the carnies knew us by name and we knew all of them. We knew which ride to ride at what time of day for the best effects. They had one of those double Ferris wheels with two wheels that were on opposite ends of a long center post. The best was when they put your wheel at the top and filled the other one you would just spin for a long time way up in the air. Then when they started the whole thing spinning as you dropped down the front it was like the floor fell out of the world.
I learned to ride a horse on the streets around his grandmothers house. We learned how to shoot guns. We waxed his grandmothers’s 1967 baby blue mustang. We ate real home cooked food. We took walks on country roads. And we went back to the fair. No worries, carefree…damn it was nice!
Then everything stopped. It really did stop. We were on the midway of the fair and an announcer came over the loud speaker and asked that everyone stop. The music stopped, the rides stopped and all got quiet. Then they announced it, Elvis had died. I’m serious. I know where I was and what I was doing at such a young age and I didn’t even care for Elvis. They stopped our perfect world to tell us that? Bummer.
Well apparently even though we didn’t give a rats ass about Elvis, there were others at that place and time who did care. People were crying. Hysteria, sadness, disappointment and the silence of disbelief surrounded us. Ok, ok looking back… it was the West Virginia state fair in the mid 1970s….where else would Elvis fans be?
Eventually after what seemed like hours but was probably all of 15-30 minutes the fair resumed and we went about our business terrorizing the midway and having a ball again. The rest of the day the adults seemed sad and joyless but we didn’t. We had rides to ride and goldfish to win. That night Billy Crash Craddock was the headliner and opened his show with Blue Suede Shoes as a tribute to Elvis. We didn’t care we were up on that double Ferris wheel spinning at the top, this time in the dark! Woohoo!
Music plays such a part of growing up. The music on the midway was popular rock of the time. Gary wright was played a lot at that fair. My favorite was Love Is Alive. It played several times daily at one of our favorite rides. The carnie that ran that ride was long haired, muscular, probably missing a tooth or three and had a big porn star mustache. He liked his Gary Wright tunes. Love Is Alive burned into my memory that summer. It was my song of the summer that year.
At the time those words did not mean what they do to me today. At the time it was a cool tune. Today I like the title. Love Is Alive.
Love makes me feel alive. Love is an expression of life, of living. When I find myself out of sorts if I can stop and feel some love for someone or something I feel better. I feel alive. The love for my husband, my dogs, a friend, my family, my home, my work, my city, the ocean, nature or just where I am at that moment. Love is everywhere, all we have to do is feel it and we are alive.
It’s amazing what can come out of a memory of the place you were when Elvis died ain’t it? 😉
“Our Love Is Alive … Yeah, Hell Yeah!”