Betsy’s Corner – Circle Games

Back in the 1970s, I was into the music and lyrics of Joni Mitchell. The album titled “Ladies of the Canyon” had a few singles playing on the AM radio stations we listened to. In my mind, I can still hear the words, “And the seasons they go round and round, and the painted ponies go up and down, we’re riding on the carousel of time.”

As a child we visited Watch Hill, RI for rides on the antique merry-go-round. My little sister and I loved picking out our favorite colorful horses and enjoying this summer ritual. In the next generation, my husband and I took our own children to the flying horses in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard and the newer carousel in Central Park, New York City. The oldest carousel in America is claimed by two examples from the 19th Century, both by the New Yorker, Charles W. F. Dare.

The Watch Hill carousel, which arrived there in 1883 from a traveling circus, has the horses suspended by chains. It was built in 1876. The Martha’s Vineyard example was originally located in Coney Island and built in the same year. The New York example came to Massachusetts in 1884 and is an example of the platform kind with long metal poles anchoring the horses. Both early carousels have the added fun of a game to catch the brass ring for a chance to get an extra ride for free. Both are the only examples of Dare’s work to survive as a complete set, and thus, very rare and valuable. Our kids loved both! In fact, many generations have traditions of getting an ice cream cone and riding on these carousels.

Time is circular like the carousel. The seasons do turn round and round. What is old is new again, or as the cliché says, “The more things change the more things stay the same.”

Our son is now collecting vinyl from the 60s and 70s. We called them albums, and we played them on record players with stereo speakers. Now our son has a turntable. Vintage vinyl brings back memories, but “Court and Spark” is the only Joni album I can find in the attic.

When our daughter was young, the Disney movies “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas” came out, one right after the other. They echo the universal thoughts and lyrics on Joni Mitchell’s albums. Such songs like “The Circle of Life” and “Seasons of the Wind” are classics of the late 20th Century.

And the world keeps revolving, and kids keep growing up, and before we know it, we are the older generation. Each generation takes care of each other as we help and teach the younger souls. We raise our children and then they care for us as we age. The only sad part is I see families spread far and wide, and we are not close enough to reach out when we are needed. Right now I am somewhat in the middle, looking forward and looking backwards, and sometimes getting dizzy at all the changes in our revolving world.

Hold on tight. Let’s slow the circular motion, and enjoy each moment. Go back and listen to the words in Circle Game, and you will see new meaning in the lyrics.

– Article by Betsy Huber Port. This is an opinion piece, and the views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Longmeadow News or its staff. Opposing viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged. Email for more information.