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Although merry-go-rounds or carousels are usually found at state and county fairs,  the oldest platform carousel in the country,  Flying Horses,  is actually a permanent fixture in the charming town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard where we’ve spent many idyllic summer vacations.  (See Menemsha Sunset)

When our son was young we often took him to ride the carousel,  but on more recent Vineyard sojourns Flying Horses was understandably no longer a regular destination.   But a few summers ago we were back on the island and passing the carousel we decided to stop and watch the horses for old time’s sake.

As I stood watching all the parents and kids climbing on,   one young family caught my eye.  The tall,  lovely mother was African-American,  the handsome father was white,   and their little daughter,  like so many biracial kids,  was strikingly beautiful with a head of tumbling dark curls,  and probably no older than two.

I watched as the father mounted one of the horses holding the child on his lap,  and the mother by chance came to stand right next to me.

The carousel began to move and as it circled around,  the father pointed to where his wife stood waving,  and the child grinned and waved back.  Each time the carousel circled past us,  the child’s smile seem to grow bigger and bigger as she learned when to anticipate the sight of her waving mother.

Then as the carousel began to slow,  the mother left my side and walked to where her family would be coming off the platform.   But the carousel completed one more circuit before it came to a full stop,  and as the little girl’s horse approached the spot where her mother no longer stood,   I saw her smile fade and her lips quiver.

“Don’t cry,  little one,”   I wanted to tell her,  “the mother and child reunion is only a motion away!”

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Carousels, Martha’s Vineyard MA


  1. Khati Hendry says:

    So sweet!!!! You were so tuned into the child’s emotions, the joy and the anxious searching. The reunion was doubtlessly joy doubled. A perfect tribute to Paul Simon.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    I know that carousel so well, Dana. As you say, the oldest still-functioning one in the country with real wooden horses (and horse hair), kept in ship-shape condition by the Preservation Trust, which owns so many of the historic sites around the island. I, also, spent long hours online waiting for a turn so my children could try to grab the brass ring.

    The moment you capture is lovely and poignant and does, indeed, do justice to the Paul Simon lyrics. This is a beautiful vignette.

  3. Marian says:

    How lovely, Dana, with all the sweet emotions of carousels and childhood!

  4. Suzy says:

    Dana, a perfect story for this prompt! I love that the Paul Simon lyrics came into your mind as you saw the little girl with her quivering lip. That’s the kind of thing that always happens to me!

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Beautiful story, Dana. Glad you stopped by the Flying Horses to witness it.

  6. Absolutely wonderful, Dana! Your featured image shows that Flying Horses dates from 1876. Certainly the oldest by a long shot. But I grew up in Binghamton, NY and the Triple Cities of Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott: they bill themselves as the carousel capital of the world with seven (count ’em) scattered through the area. There was a grand one not far from me, growing up. Rides were free. A wonderful Wurlitzer-like one machine band. Seventeen years after I left the area I returned when my dad remarried, this time with my family and two young sons. I took them around to see the sights and headed to show them where the merry-go-round “used to be”. As we pulled up I saw that it was still there. And operating. Taking my sons on it is a treasured memory. Thanks for evoking it.

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