The fairgrounds were arranged with venue sections available for the carnival, merchants and independent concessionaires. I had reserved my spot. Efficiency reigned. The Jackson County Fair provided the perfect place for me to shine. The Letterfly T-shirt booth I built was essentially a 1964 VW bus that served as a storage and transportation situation. The parked bus became an anchor for the superstructure attached to the roof rack that placed a twelve-foot display overhead of the passersby. Corner supports flanked the counter top area where my salesgirl was surrounded by display shirts that hung overhead. Inventory shirts were in the counter boxes.
The upgrades to my booth elevated the appearance and efficiency of the custom T-shirt painting operation. Once the fair was under way, my helper handled the customers, took orders, found the right shirt and placed them in the pipeline.
I became an airbrushing machine. I’d hand the finished shirt to the customer and grab the next one. I’d slip the shirt over the platen made for this purpose and review the order blank to acquaint myself with the request. Then, while people watched, I began the process. I started with a loose layout airbrushed in a pastel color. I’d switch to black once I had a handle on the design to establish the linework. Then the shapes received fill-in colors, highlights and a quick outline. A name took three minutes. Then the process repeated with the next shirt.
In the midst of all this industry, a couple who looked out of place at a fair appeared at my booth. They wore formal attire with sparkling appointments, radiated opulence and patiently waited.
Once they got my attention, I heard him say, “we heard about you in San Diego.”
He revealed they had attended a motorhome rally where one of my murals on a motorhome was prominent.
The man continued, “we’re not leaving Michigan without an eagle on the back of our motorhome.”
This started our conversation.
I found out about a humorous occurrence that just happened. In order to find me, they drove their brand-new motorhome up to the entrance to the fairgrounds. The gate guard thought they were the grandstand entertainer Anne Murray. He directed them right into the infield and up to the back of the grandstand stage and parked them there. Once settled in their coach, they took a walk around the fairgrounds to find me.
I arranged to have them go to the campground behind the Beach Bar. I would do the work once this and my next fair were over.
The Beach Bar remains special to me. My career started there. Once tear-down at the fair was complete, I headed towards Clarklake where my customers were parked and waiting.
While I devoted time to their project – a scene of a majestic eagle flying over Captiva Island where they lived – I found out more to admire about them. They had the only garbage service and incinerator on the island. They described their life on that remote paradise off-shore San Diego. Now equipped with an RV, they planned to explore and see the many sights in the good old USA.
I was able to share with them the names of fascinating destinations I had found. I love to travel. Because of this love, I was at the brink of a huge opportunity.