Back in the hay day of carnival business having two popular high rides was a big deal. They could been seen from a long ways away which made for good advertizing and the capacity was fairly good. A good wheel man was very important.
Promotional photos were taken so a booking agent could show the Fair Board the double wheels. We think this is Far Guys Dad in the photo.
The wheels would have a first man, a second man and sometimes a third man..and set up help. Men who worked the wheel over the years were Perkel, Jerry Leper, Billy Grover, Dale Merriam, Ron Zwald, Stan the Black Man, Hubert Heeren and Virgil Landgraft. Perkel was a tall guy the spitting image of John Wayne, and he had a good sense of humor.
Hubert Heeren was one of the best wheel men ever. Far Guy worked the wheel on set up/tear down day/night. I would find a spot out of the way, settle in and watch. Far Guy worked the top. Which meant he would climb up one of the towers once it was set and raised and then balance on the top and attach all the spokes. There was a series of ropes, the spoke was assembled on the ground and then the ropes were pulled and it rose to the center where Far Guy put in the bolts. He would slide down the cable, put together another spoke and climb up the tower and pin another spoke in place until they were all in place. It was a dangerous job, but with Hubert in control all the time injuries were minor. Far Guy used to call it fighting the pig iron. I learned alot by watching…and didn’t get involved other than to get them water and once in awhile searching for a cotter pin in the dark. Far Guy fell out of the top once, hit his shins, ribs and head and bled all over in Staples Minnesota, Lois (Hubert’s wife) helped doctor him up and that was the last time he ever set up a wheel. ( Hubert calls us every once in awhile, he lives in Oklahoma and is a widower…when he gets lonesome he calls us.)
Half of the wheel seats were taken off each night and covers put on over all the seats. If the weather turned stormy the seats would come off and four ropes were tied from the wheel to trucks.
Sometimes that didn’t work. Columbus Nebraska 1956
Hubert Heeren, Al Merriam, Dale Merriam and Marvin Henderson.
This wheel had the old wooden seats. That is possibly Hubert Heeren in the photo.
The wheels were a total loss. New wheels were purchased.
This is Northfield Iowa a number of years later. Eventually one of the wheels was sold, with the advent of other more exciting carnival rides.
When I was about 12 years old, Far Guys Dad told him to take me on some rides. Needless to say he stood there with his hands in his pockets and his head down and mumbled “You don’t want to go on any rides do you?” Far Guy says he said “You wanna go on some rides?” I said “No” “No thanks.” But I relented and went on the Ferris Wheel with him.
So we have a wheel seat in our yard.