When I visited my family in Wisconsin last July I took a bunch of photos and had such good intentions of writing down the stories my grandma had to tell me.
One afternoon she told me and my nephews about the time she won this blue vase.
She decided she would get it out of the back of the closet and show it to us. (Later I noodled around with my new camera and took silly pictures of her with the vase.)
The vase was dusty and she decided she needed to wash it right then.
She won the vase when she was a young mother. My grandpa took her out to the Greenbush Fireman's Picnic. In rural Wisconsin the fire departments are all volunteer. I'm not sure if the Fireman's Picnics are fundraisers for running the equipment, or for thanking the firefighters, or both. I remember when I was a little girl going to the Fireman's Picnic (in my case the Waldo Fireman's Picnic) was a big deal. It was just about as exciting to me as going to the County Fair.
While the County Fair had rides and 4-H exhibits and plenty of carnival games, at a fireman's picnic I always won a prize. It could be a parachute man or miniature plastic doll. I especially liked the fishing game because somehow I always caught a 'fish prize'. I was just young enough not to realize there was a person behind that cloth 'water'. Somehow a lot of the adults seemed to know me, also magical. There were brats and hamburgers, and somehow all the stranger adults were happier and more boisterous (drunk). The one ride that was there at the Waldo Fireman's Picnic was the pony ride, and I knew them! My aunt Jean and Uncle Kenny owned the Sunset Saddle Shop and pony rides. I was disappointed when rides weren't always forthcoming. I couldn't understand why they didn't just offer me a ride, they were family weren't they?
So many years before my grandpa had taken my grandma
to the Greenbush Fireman's Picnic. People would travel from miles around to go to this one. I'm pretty sure Grandma said she won the vase at Bingo. She couldn't believe it! It was the first time in her life she had ever won anything.