Blast From the Past–Jelly Shoes and Tilt-a-Whirls

1 04 2009


If you were alive and breathing in the 1980’s, you no doubt remember Jelly Shoes. Every little girl in my elementary school had at least one pair and the lucky, spoiled, little princesses had them in a rainbow of colors to complement every outfit. They were the Crocs of their day, only I can not imagine they were at all comfortable.

At the height of their popularity, the carnival came to the small town I grew  up in. It was an annual event, set up in the parking lot of the Montgomery-Ward. The carnival always brought with it bittersweet excitement. I loved the rides (and still do), but with a sister “too little” for them, and a mother totally disinterested and concerned about the inherent safety of a fast moving ride that only a day before had been disassembled and traveling over the highway on the back of a truck, my only hope for getting to go was if the few days the carnival was in town coincided with the weekends I spent with my father.

But this particular year, with jelly shoe excitement sweeping across the land, Mom (who, I should point out, was not yet the bat-shit crazy woman she would become), for reasons lost to time, consented to take us to the carnival. But once there, we were not allowed to ride any of the “grown up” rides alone, and all the ones that interested me required a stronger sense of adventure than Mom had. We finally, after much pleading, convinced her to take us on the Tilt-a-Whirl. I was less than thrilled, but it was the best I was going to get that day.


Mom, sister, and I filled the first available “car” once our turn came.  As the carnival worker came around to make sure all aboard were secure, a lone little girl stepped onto the platform. The worker put her into our car, and for that I am sure she still curses him. The ride starts up. Mom, always dramatic, grabbed the bar. “I don’t know why I let you all talk me into this!” As the ride sped up, sister, unknown little girl, and I, are laughing and having a great time–hands thrown in the air. Mom is sitting with her mouth dropped open, white knuckles digging into the chrome bar, letting out the occasional screech everytime the Tilt-A-Whirl made a sudden reverse spin.

I gotta get off!” Mom shouted about the time it reached full speed.

This is fun!” sister shouted.

No, I’m gonna be sick!”

I shouted, “Bitch, please! On a tilt-a-whirl?” Well ok, my little 9 year old self didn’t use those exact words, but it’s what I was thinking.

A few more whips and whirls and Mom was shouting at the ride operator to stop. Whether the ride slowed then because of her plea or because our ticket’s worth had simply come to an end, I don’t know. But as it slowed to a stop, Mom kept moaning, “Oh God, I’m so sick!”

And then, just as the carnival worker released the metal bar that held us in, she was. All over that poor little girl’s jelly-shoe wearing feet. “Ewwww! Guh-ross!” the poor little girl shouted, as she ran off the ride. Mom likely stammered off an apology but sister and I didn’t hear it, we were too busy laughing.




15 responses

1 04 2009

Bahahaha fuck yes!!

As a child of the 80’s, I also had gummy shoes. Not only were they uncomfortable and ergonomically incorrect, but they also made your feet stink. Oh, and when you took them off, your feet were covered in checker-patterned dirt.

Also– the tilt-a-whirl? That is like the margarine of carnival rides. I can relate, though. My own (um…tightly wound?) mother had an unnatural fear of rides. Once I talked her into going on Space Mountain at Disneyland, and she screamed and swore so much that when the ride stopped, this father and son looked at her like she was the fucking anti-christ.

(And I like your blog, too)

1 04 2009

If I was that little girl I would have been paralyzed by gross-ness. If I was you or your sister I would have been hysterical over that fact that my mom hoarked in public.

My favorite puke story was the time my cousin and I brought her Golden Retriever with us to the pristinely spotless little town of Solvang. Cousin was starving on the ride up the coast and she stopped and bought a cheese burger and shared it with the dog. When we got to Solvang we were in awe of it’s quaint small town charm and by how spotlessly clean everything was. We took a seat on an outside patio at a Scandanavian bakery when with no warning the dog starts barfing. And like most animals she didn’t stand still in hoark in one place…noooo…she pretty much ran in circles and got it on EVERYONE. I ran inside and asked if there was a hose we could use to clean it up and the person behind the counter said she’d take care of it….I’ll bet she felt pretty silly when she came outside armed with a coffee pot full of water to disarm the mess. We tried to help clean it up but then decided that it would be best to get the barfing dog away from the bakery so we left. We got in the car to go home and then cousin said that now she was going to throw up and we needed to pull the car off of the freeway. So I took the first off ramp in Santa Barbara which turned out to be a couple of twisty miles long. As soon as we found a parking lot to pull in to my cousin jumped out of the car and ran behind a van to have a little privacy as she continued to empyt her guts. Of course, the owner of the van see’s her and thinks she’s trying to break in to the van and they the two of them proceed to play ring around the rosy around the van. I interceeded and told the van owner that we aren’t trying to bother the van…we are just trying to throw up in private…if you don’t mind! When all was said and done we figured that cousin and the dog had gotten food poisoning from their cheese burger. And not co-incidently cousin, dog and I never went on another road trip together.

1 04 2009

UGH. I had a similar incident, only I was the one who puked, and it was spaghetti from a very high ride. But not all over anyone’s shoes.

1 04 2009

I have vertigo. The one ride that just about killed me was the tilt-a-whirl. The two circling movements at the same time were horrible. I didn’t actually become ill but only by the grace of the ride stopping.

When I was about 8 we were were at a carnival and they had one of those giant swings that just spun you out in a wide circle. Some woman heaved on my Dad who was standing below. Sort of a splatter effect. What I remember most about that event is that the woman was wearing a red dress that had a fur trim collar and heels. A vomiting, spinning woman in fur. Yep. Good times.

1 04 2009
The Vinyl Villager

LOL! You all are killin’ me! Who knew there were so many puke stories!

1 04 2009

V V…..aaaah, the good old days….when Yo Mama wasn’t bat-shit crazy and things like the carnival were what made up fullfilling childhood excitement. I sure miss those days.

Here’s my carnival puke story….
When I was in the 10th grade, there was a girl who chose me (unwillingly) to be her very best friend. This was because I lived “in town” and she lived in “the sticks”. One weeked when the carnival was in town, she invited herself for a sleep-over. This was in a large part because she wanted to go out with a boy that lived near me. She had it bad for him. Reminded me of a biotch dog in heat. So, to move it along…..she stayed and off we went to the carnival. She was with her dream guy and I got stuck with his friend. To be fair to his friend, he got stuck with me, too. Neither of us had any interest whatsoever in the other. We all got on a ride called The Zipper. Do you remember that one? It was the SCARIEST RIDE EVER and I loved it. I had ridden it before and knew that it dropped the car that you were riding in down at hyper-speed. My friend and her dream-boat got in one of the 2-person cars and “friend” and I got in another. The ride started and on the second drop of the car, I saw something hit the mesh front and run down the door. Mr Dream-Guy had lost his supper of corndogs, slushie, and cotton candy!!!! Somehow, we escaped the flying mass of regurgitated carnival chow. When the ride stopped, Mr. Dream-Guy looked more like Miss Stream-By or maybe, Lil Scream Guy than the hunk o’ burning love that my friend had been thinking of him. The poor guy had barfed all over himself and my friend. This was their first and last date. However, she still remained a self-proclaimed best friend and invited herself many more times for stays at my house through out high school.

1 04 2009

Oh yeah, Michelle is right. Jelly shoes created horrible foot odors. Also, they seemed to have a magical power of manufacturing enormous amounts of toe-jam looking mud-stuff around the toes. YUCK!

1 04 2009
The Vinyl Villager

Barbie, I do miss the days when she was fun. Lately the best thing I can think of where she is concerned is “this will be great for the blog.” And I do remember that those plastic shoes seemed to attract dirt and dust like a magnet…Ive got visions of nasty little feet on the playground.

1 04 2009
Big Hair Envy

I’m not going to fill up your blog space with my jelly-shoe/fair puke stories. Perhaps I should just write a book…..or an epistle…

2 04 2009
Noe Noe Girl

Well I feel so left out. I never had a pair of jelly shoes (surpirsed as cheap as they are) and I never have puked on a ride. (yet) Pissed on a few though.
Now from too much alcohol intake yes but never from a ride!

3 04 2009

Noe Noe…bless your littled sheltered heart! Wanna put on some jelly shoes, go get drunk, ride carnival rides, and puke on somebody? I’m sure that VV will join in and we could take ya!

3 04 2009

jelly shoes make for stinky feet.
i had very stinky feet in the 80s.

3 04 2009
The Vinyl Villager

Big Hair…you mean you have more than one such story??

Noe Noe…aww, today I got my first “stimulus” paycheck. If I take my stimulus this week, and my stimulus two weeks from now, I MIGHT have enough to get you some jelly shoes.

Barbie…I do not pass up a carnival! Or drinks.

Red…I wish I could blame mine on jelly shoes.

10 05 2009

Jelly shoes are comfortable i bought some from a vintage shop the other day 🙂

11 05 2009
The Vinyl Villager

I cant quite picture jelly shoes on a Jonathan…but hey, comfort is key!

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