Sometimes there are moments when good memories suddenly surface within us for no apparent reason and cause us to smile within, as we pause to remember it. I had one such moment the other day that I felt warranted a quick blog entry, because honestly, I know we tend to lose memories the older we get and this is one I definitely don’t ever want to forget.
Many, many years ago, when I was in my grammar school years, my father worked at IBM. This was back in the 80’s, when IBM was the clear leader in the emerging world of computers. The company had so much money going for it back then, that each year, it held a community weekend for all of its employees called “IBM Family Days”. And you could attend it once with your family on either the Saturday or Sunday.
It was always in the summer and it always took place at the county fairgrounds that was not too far from my home. If you’ve ever been to a county fair, then you know how they’re filled with plenty of rides, food, and games to play. Well, IBM Family Days was no different, other than it was 100% paid for.
That’s right, every ride, all of the concession stands, and each carnival game was totally free!
So, when this memory surfaced abruptly, I immediately recollected a bunch of happy thoughts of spending each of my IBM Family Days eating hamburger after hamburger, hot dog after hot dog, fries after fries, ice cream after ice cream, and then riding rides in between all that gorging, sometimes almost causing me to throw up! And you know what? I had a blast doing it all!
Speaking of rides, my favorites at that event were either the Gravitron or the Alpine Bob Sled.
The Gravitron was where a person entered this enclosed spaceship and took a place against the wall, where bars separated each of its occupants. In the center was a DJ spinning tunes and playing music videos on a screen above them. The spaceship would then turn around in high speed revolutions, pinning each of its inhabitants against the wall. I’d constantly try from that point forward to reverse my position and go upside against all those G-Forces. It was pretty funny to watch, especially if I ever had to hawk some spit that came because it would consistently land on my own face.
The Alpine Bob Sled was where a person would walk up a bunch of silver steps into a mostly sheltered room, only exposed on one part of it to the outside. Within were a bunch of bobsled-looking cars that were all on spokes connected to the center of a circle. There were mirrors and pictures adorning the inside of this ride with a theme of ski slopes in Switzerland. A DJ sat in a enclosed glass booth playing music while the ride would go around and around. Each of those cars went up and down in spots in that circular pattern and would also rotate outward on the curves, almost feeling as if you might fly off into the air at those points. I can still hear the DJ playing Prince’s song, 1999, when I close my eyes and picture myself on this ride.
It’s amazing I have these memories at all anymore, especially with the clarity I do, given the number of drugs and alcohol that consumed me not too long after this period of my life. I can still clearly see myself walking through those fair grounds with my family and stopping at these frozen bins they had everywhere that were filled with all sorts of ice cream types of goodies where you could take as many as you wanted. The same was true for soda, except you would get a full cold can of whatever type of soft drink you wanted. The best part about this is that it was the one day my parents let my sister and I go crazy and eat and drink as much as we wanted. Trust me, with the massively controlling parents I had, this was most certainly a rare treat.
As for those carnival games, I generally never play them these days when I go to a county fair because the odds are so stacked against me to win. But, given they were completely free at IBM Family Days, I did play them a lot and would usually have a bag filled with stuffed animals and odd trinkets to return home with.
But overall, I must say that IBM Family Days was usually one of the rare days during the year when my family always seemed to be happy together. It was a time of bonding and bringing us closer, a time where my parents never drank or fought, and a time where I truly felt like I had a loving family to be with.
So, I’m very glad this memory surfaced as abruptly as it did the other day, because it reminded me that my family did have some good times together when I was a young kid. Thank you, God, for helping me to remember such a good event from my early years of life, as IBM Family Days was always such a blessing to experience…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson