Mexicans inside and outside their trailers had plates cooking tacos and vegetables. I had a cold can of pinto beans. None of us had any idea that The Carnival had an Easter surprise brewing for us on the midway.
This morning is Easter Sunday but nobody expects a Passover meal or even a classic Easter brunch.
Instead, when we walk around the 1001 Nachts gondola ride, we see a buffet laid out on the counter of the balloon-dart game.
About 50 workers coming out of their trailers for the weekly “Church Call,” see free food.
A Church Call is when bosses tell us what is happening that day and week. Today, Robert E. tells us about the next town down the line.
Tall, 50ish, balding, with strong arms and a beer belly, Robert E. wore dark sunglasses as he told everyone to stay away from the local car wash in the next location, which has made complaints about carnies walking on the lot in the past.
Then he gets to the part everyone fears.
“Slough tonight might be in the rain, let’s hope not,” said Robert E., standing in the middle of the dirt and gravel midway, with concession stands on both sides and rides behind them.
A “slough” – which rhymes with plow – is the breaking down of the carnival.
Tonight it will start when the Giant Wheel shuts off its lights and the cries rise up, “Down!”
The pushing, pulling, hammering, bashing, clamping, lifting, climbing, screwing and carrying won’t stop until we’re finished, often about the time the sun rises Monday morning. The slough is hours of grueling work without rests or meal breaks, all through the night.
None of us signed up for a ride to a local church for Easter services, so I joked we were going to Church Call at the Church of the Immaculate Slough.
Some people chuckled, I think.
Being Easter Sunday, this carnival makes a special effort to beef up the raffle prizes – which included pickled pigs feet this year.
Served on the throwing table for the balloon-dart game, the buffet included ham, salami and turkey slices, American cheeses, potato and pasta salads, cookies and colored eggs.
In our current suburban San Francisco location, we’re on a gravel and dirt lot next to Highway 4 and Route 680. We abut a trailer rental yard in an industrial district.
We brought a limited number of rides from the last location but we have the two mainstays, the Giant Wheel and the Americana Carrousel.
Tickets were drawn from a bucket on the midway and carnies hooted “It’s a fix,” when a family member of a boss wins. Jokes in Spanish rise when a popular Mexican carny wins something. An operator on the balloon-dart game wins three prizes and rubs it in by yelling thank you to the rest of us.
“Happy Easter, kiss my keister,” someone yells out.
At noon the carnival opens as black rain clouds roll over.
The Sam & Dave version of “Gimme Some Lovin’” booms out from one of the game booths.
Slough is still ten hours away and the rain comes hammering down.
On Wednesday: Easter Slough