Riding the Sky Wheel, Part 2

ferris wheel moonThe results are in.

It turns out I wasn’t the only person too chicken to ride the Sky Wheel at the Putnam County fair after all. After last week’s column, several people shared their Ferris wheel stories—from here and from far distant places–with me. I happily pass some of them along to you.

Like me, a handful of folks said they’d never ridden a double Ferris wheel and never would. Bill, who pilots his own private plane, said “I’m not afraid of heights, obviously. But when I’m way up in the air, I don’t want to be open to the sky. I like to have something around me.” Deirdre wrote, “Roller coaster, yes. Ferris wheel, no. It sounds horrible.” Jeanette said, “I nearly barfed just reading about it.” But Peter, a Facebook friend who is in his eighties, showed a little more courage. “I would consider it if I were 10 or 15 years younger,” he wrote.

Stacie was the only soul I heard from who braved the Sky Wheel at 2016 Putnam County fair. “I loved it!” she said. “Although my boyfriend who was kind enough to risk this death trap out of love did not.”

And then there were those who rode a double Ferris wheel years ago but would never do it again. Deanna: “I rode a permanent one in Ohio all the time as a kid, and loved it. But these days I have a general distrust of the carnies who put them together.” Judy: “It scared me so much back in the eighties that I swore off it for life.” And Tracey: “I rode the double Ferris wheel once with my younger sister, who got great pleasure out of saying ‘Let’s rock the car.’ Never again.”

My favorite reply came from my friend Monica Morris, a fellow writer for “Guideposts” magazine, who lives in Illinois. She shared such beautiful Ferris wheel memories that I asked if I could use them in this column. She said yes.

“The double Ferris wheel was a regular attraction at our county fair when I was a kid,” Monica wrote. “I’m not a big fan of rides, but there was something almost magical about this one. I had to dare myself to ride it and I’m pretty sure the first time I went up, it was with my dad. I was scared to death! As the small wheel rotates around and you reach the very top, there’s a point where you fly to the very bottom. I remember my heart dropping to my stomach because I was positive we were going to fall to the ground and go splat. But it was also the most exhilarating feeling I ever had—whoosh! After that I was hooked.

“Combine all the twinkling lights below and the summer moon above and that feeling of soaring above the ground, well, it was something.

“The last time I rode the double Ferris wheel was at the Illinois State Fair more than 30 years ago. I was newly married and not quite the same dare devil as when I was young. Something happened that day that can’t be explained. Somewhere along the way, I’d lost my nerve. And I couldn’t wait to get off the ride. It makes me kind of sad. I don’t think I’d ride a double Ferris wheel now, but I would stand beneath it and relive some pretty fabulous memories.”

Gosh, Monica. Your words tugged at my heart. Tugged so hard, in fact, that I almost wish I’d screwed up the courage to ride the Sky Wheel before it packed up and left town.

(August 14, 2016)