Living within an hour of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5), each month Hannah and I spend two to three afternoons/evenings with them at their home in the Bay State. Regularly, we also have “24 hours of Owen and Max” where the boys come to York for a day and an overnight, so our daughter Molly and her husband Tip get some time to themselves.
There was no better gift for Hannah and me, as parents of young children than when we had my mom and dad come to Maine to take Molly, Robyn, and Will for three days/ two nights. Manna from heaven. In bowling terms, it was a 300 game.
With “24 hours of Owen and Max” beginning, we drive inland from our home on the coast of Maine this late August Thursday to a small time agricultural fair in the little burg of Acton (population 2,427). Get these prices. Parking is $4, the admission for Owen and Max is free, and Hannah and I pay a mere $8 each (Fridays seniors are $4!)
Eating fair food and the oxen pulling contests are at the top of the boys’ list. Normally, in teams, oxen pull pallets loaded with concrete blocks up and down the dirt grandstand show path. Unfortunately this year, we arrive after the oxen pulling and settle for the oxen strutting their stuff for the assembled small crowd of folks and judges.
Undeterred, we’ve brought pbj and veggies with humus for lunch. Ah, but the boys have their sights on bigger fair fare. You see, we give each one $4 to spend on whatever food they want. Right off the bat, and before lunch, they each opt for a $2 bag of buttery, movie-style popcorn from the local Rotary club. With the planned-for lunch no longer on their minds, we walk the midway to find how they will best spend their final $2.
And then we hit gold. While ice cream cones everywhere are $3 or more, $8 funnel cakes and over-priced deep-fried anything is everywhere, we stumble upon two young men raising money to go to India to build a dam for the local population who are selling one scoop cones for a dollar. One simolean!
Owen opts for strawberry and Max mint chip, a personal favorite of mine. Going down easily, the $1 cones mean they still have a greenback left. They want another cone. Wouldn’t you? It’s their dollar; their choice takes Hannah back to a favorite childhood memory when her dad gave her money for three cones in one afternoon.
While waiting for the carnival rides to open at 4P, Hannah notices two guys and a young woman from the Acton Fire and Rescue Squad sitting on a picnic table. Hannah turns to Owen, Max, and me and suggests that we buy cones for the three and their nearby chief. I approach the three and say, Have I got a great offer for you! To thank you for your service, we’d like to buy you each a cone. Can we? How could they say no! They can’t. They don’t!
Gratefully, today we celebrate another of our 24-hour days with Owen and Max, this time at the Acton Fair!