The carousel, we called it the merry-go-round, was the centerpiece of Tiny Town. Though it seemed massive through the eyes of a child, I now know that it was not that big, as carousels go. In fact, experts at the National Carousel Association, after viewing a photo, suggest that it may have been a portable model, built by Hershell-Spillman.
Click on any photo to see a bigger version of it.
Our merry-go-round had three rows of solid hardwood horses with real horsehair tails, as well as two sets of benches, carved with what Matt called “the Nubian princesses”. When it came time to renew the paint on the horses, he designated me child color consultant. I remember late afternoons standing among the horses, canvas down, picking out colors and showing the employees what shade should go where. Only a very few of the Tiny Town boys were allowed to paint the horses. The steadiest hand was that of Clay Schofield, a young man who paid close attention to doing things right and had a lot of forbearance for a little girl who thought her job was telling him what to do.
The NCA’s opinion on the portability of our merry-go-round notwithstanding, it was anything but portable. During the big move, when it was being lifted by a huge crane, a wind came up and the thing started swinging in the breeze. No doubt concerned, the crane operator decided to set the carousel back on the ground. Sadly, it came down right on top of the precious Wurlitzer organ. That thing was an amazing treasure, its musical selections driven by perforated paper roles on metal spools. Like most things at TT, the organ was brightly painted, and it also had golden angels, who moved on a track, striking bells and chimes. After being crushed by the carousel, some notes came up missing, and they never got fixed.
The boys taught me how to get on the carousel when it was going. I’d just run along side, grab a vertical support and leap aboard. Soon I learned to step on from a standing full stop, and with no hands. Anxious mothers sometimes ran up to save me, saying “Little girl, you’ll be hurt, where is your mother?” I told Matt about this problem. He said, “You just tell ‘em you’re the boss’s granddaughter.”