The State Fair theme ties in with our recent visit to Canada. Listening to the words, and seeing the chorus sing, it reminds me of a more wholesome time and place than where I currently reside.
When I was a child in the late 1960's, we lived in Kansas, and the innocence of that time and location have always been my standard for what kind of environment I wanted my children to experience. I remember stamping out 'rooms' in the tall grasses to make a 'house.' I remember neighbors kids who were in and out of each other's houses all summer long. My best friend, Eileen Barrios, lived in the first court on our street. Her parents were Puerto Rican and I went up there all the time because her mom worried about me eating (because I was skinny back then!). She gave me the absolute best food at the drop of a hat. Then I had to go home and pretend I hadn't already eaten dinner. It was so painful but so good.
One of my best memories is when playing "kick the can" in the grass circle in the middle of our housing area each evening. You didn't have to be the fastest runner or the most talented kicker. You could be the sneakiest and still do really well in the game! I was little, so I was pretty sneaky (in my fond memories, I'm sure!) We caught fireflies, visited with grandparents, and went exploring in the "canyon" (it was really a big drainage ditch, but we were small). Everything imaginable was possible -- men had just walked on the moon!
Each day at 5pm the entire base would stop and salute for "Retreat." People got out of their cars, hands over their hearts or saluting if in uniform. We were linked with a ritual that occurred world-wide at U.S. bases, honoring those who serve. Patriotism was a positive virtue, and songs from musicals like State Fair and Oklahoma gave kids wonderful opportunities to drive our parents crazy while we incessantly sang only the 2 lines we knew! No one we knew swam on a swim team, or played summer sports or did anything ORGANIZED at all. All organized sports and scout activities had ended at the end of school because summer was for PLAY.
There were flies in the ointment, but they were part of the grown-up world. We were blissfully unaware of the cares and worries that our parents faced. They allowed us the energy and joy of childhood play. Heck, we even looked forward to going back to school in the fall because we LIKED our teachers and our schools! And shopping for new school supplies was the end of summer excitement for all of us. Negotiating over spiral notebooks with the Partridge Family or Bobby Sherman on them vs. the ordinary red or blue ones took on special urgency. (Only one girl in our group liked Donny Osmond and we thought she was a little bit strange anyway).
When we were in Canada last week, I enjoyed just a taste of that time 30 years back or so where people were just NICE. There didn't seem to be any energy wasted in getting ahead of other people or selfish people. It was just NICE.
So when the State Fair music swells to a collective happy note, it isn't the personal love song music I hear -- it's a memory of a time that love built through my parents giving us the freedom of childhood to play and grow. It makes me happy and nostalgic, and a bit wistful.