A life enjoying the fair
It’s Fair Week. We’ll be able to say that for the 150th time in 2009. Corydon turns 200 in 2008, and the Harrison County Fair has been around for almost 150 of those years. I decided to talk with Ozzie Saulman because, at least to me, he is and always has been ‘at the fair.’
But even I had no clue to the life investment that Saulman has put into the fair and the fairgrounds. Except for four years when he was serving in the South Pacific, Saulman has lived, worked and gone to the fair in Corydon for all of his 90 years. At the age of seven, he had a ‘job’ setting up milk bottles for a midway game. He made 25 cents for a day’s work, and Blackie, who ran the stand, promised Saulman’s mother to walk him home at sundown when the midway closed.
When he was 10, 11 and 12, Saulman was a caddy for a nine-hole golf course that was located mostly in what is now the infield. Saulman said, ‘Those buildings weren’t there, the creek wasn’t as wide and the grandstand was smaller.’ He made 25 cents a round but would take the minimum of 15 cents from the more frugal golfing businessmen about town. ‘I’ve looked everywhere for a picture of that, but so far no luck,’ he said.
About 1948, Saulman bought a popcorn machine in Louisville and took over the concession which was then located in the middle and under the old wooden grandstand. A fire destroyed this grandstand a year later and the new one was bought and brought from a Louisville baseball field. Saulman’s stand moved to the north end where it has been ever since.
One time he was walking down the midway at the Indiana State Fair and heard bellowed out, ‘Oh, my gosh! There goes the ham sandwich man.’ He was known by all the traveling fair workers for great Wenning’s ham sandwiches that they lived on while working the Harrison County Fair.
And, of course, the famous ‘wheel’ that Saulman ran for a good while was beloved by all except those who realized there was a fine edge of legality in every spin of that wheel. I miss laying down my quarter at that game to this day.
Saulman’s wife, Ada, is recovering from a stroke and was nearby while we talked old fair memories. We realized that Saulman used that popcorn machine for 38 years, the Carol Uesseler family took over for 16, and now my family has been using it for five years.
Saulman leaned over and told his wife that ‘This is the lady running your popcorn machine now.’
I hope to keep the corn popping half so well as Ozzie and his family did for all those years.