We jumped out of our cars. Those stuck in the back seats began pushing on the backs of their shotgun riding friends just for the chance to get to the Dime Pitch first.
Before we could enter the fray, our friend’s dad wrangled our teenage stampede together. Prior to traversing the river of people moving along the festival’s walkways the rules of that night needed to be explained.
First and foremost, we were all to meet back at the cars at the time set by him…no excuses.
Secondly, we were all to at least try the bean soup. The good folks, as he had put it, of McClure, including the local Boy Scout troop had spent more time than anyone should (like politicians on vacation time spent) on the bean soup and we owed it to them to eat a little.
Thirdly, the boys in the group were to keep an eye on the girls in the group (I think he knew what girls without dirt underneath their fingernails and dip in between their teeth could do to the hormone drive of the local boy’s wandering around the festival.).
We all responded. as any invincible feeling, know better than anyone else, who the hell is he to tell us what we can and can’t do, teenager in our position would do, with a humbled and compliant “Yes sir.”. He wished us all luck then released our posse to the tidal wave of people and games of chance.
We had to drill our way through the crowd, like Bruce Willis in Armageddon drilling the meteor headed for Liv Tyler and Earth, in order to reach the Dime Pitch.
Lodged between the ‘Make a Hoop Win a Prize’ game (the one with the football shaped rims where the only chance of you making a shot would be with a crowbar and WD40) and a string of food vendors sat the Dime Pitch.
The sea of people parted to reveal the Dime Pitch. If I am not mistaken, a ray of sunshine cut through the dusk and angelic harpsichords played in the background at the unveiling.
It was an unassuming stand. The Dime Pitch was like a gazebo, no bigger, flooded with lights and holding in it’s center a pyramid of spinning tables with more glasses and dishes than a Lechters. Around the perimeter of the stand was a waist high counter (with the obligatory red white and blue banner hanging around the entirety of the booth). The counter was there for patrons to position their dimes as well as any glasses won in the competition.
It was being managed by an older gentlemen with a portly belly and balding grey head of hair. He was accompanied by his wife. They were assuredly someone’s grandparents and just as assuredly you knew they had been manning the Dime Pitch since metal cups and moonshine were still in style.
They were all smiles as they lazily collected the money off of the ground from the three people tossing their dimes at the spinning tables and missing their intended targets.
We approached the Dime Pitch. Like the slow motion scene from Resovoir Dogs we made our way to it (I was so Mr. White). Slow and determined. Our fingers rattled through our cans of dimes. The plump old man in the stand gave us a friendly smile (a smile that said he had eight more suckers to throw money away trying to win the contents of his wife’s kitchen cabinets) as we got to the perimeter of the stand. He offered us open spaces around the Dime Pitch and invited us to begin tossing.
In a blink, we had lined up and, as Southwest says, it was on.
Our dimes were sent from our hands in a hailstorm of ten cent shock and awe. The eight of us had unintentionally pushed away the three original throwers and we now circled the entire stand. I can not tell you who had accomplished winning the first glass but I can tell you who would end up with the most.
My hand, wrist, and dimes were in perfect unison with one another. My mind was running on pure instinct as it calculated the speed of the turn tables with the depth of the glasses, weight of the dimes and figured in for any wind currents rushing by. My body absorbed the inevitable “bump bys” (getting inadvertently bumped by people as they made their way past you). I had Waco Kid speed as I reached into my tin for dimes.
As my dimes hit their mark, I shouted out like a Wall Street trader, to indicate to the old man, which glass my dime had landed in. The chubby old man began to sweat and the smile went away from his face. He and his wife had not been this busy in years. We had begun to win so many glasses he had to reach under the table to open a an old Schlitz case of beer cardboard box containing more of his wife’s glasswares.
Our flurry of dimes never slowed.
We were going crazy with excitement.
A crowd of curious passerbys began to form behind us.
It was at this point when the history books opened to our chapter and to several blank pages waiting to be filled in.