To the Editor of THE EAGLE:
On Jan. 15, I read an article in The Transcript titled "Berkshire Carousel to spin this summer." It was the first I had heard of it. I had observed the horses being carved at the Berkshire Mall but never inquired as to why. Now I had the answer and continued to read the article. It went on to explain the carousel would feature 33 hand-carved horses, 14 rounding boards, two chariots and a donkey. I stopped reading dead in my tracks. Waves of panic and dread flooded my mind and washed over me.
Some 60 years ago my parents took me somewhere where there was a carousel. I don’t remember where it was but it was my first time. I watched it go around and saw the great fun all these children were having riding these wonderful horses round and round and up and down as well. They purchased my ticket and I got in line. After what seemed an eternity the merry-go-round slowly came to a halt and the riders dismounted their mighty chargers. As they all made their way out the exit ramp I was imagining myself riding round and round and up and down. The gate finally was opened and all the kids ran to find a horse. I was the last one in the gate and it was closed behind me.
I ran onto the carousel and swept around the back side until I had made a full circle. There were no un-mounted horses. The attendant caught my eye and motioned me toward him. "This is the only one left son," he said. I looked in abject horror. It was the donkey. He swung me up onto it as my dreams and imagination faded. To add insult to injury the donkey was fixed in place and did not ride up and down like the great steeds around me. I couldn’t wait for the ride to end. I did not look to catch my parents’ eye. I hoped they did not see me and my failure to procure a stallion.
I see after all these years a sinister component exists in the carousel industry. They apparently hope to destroy the hopes and dreams of some unsuspecting child from time to time. If anyone out there, who was made to ride the donkey, would like to join a support group for traumatized donkey riders, they can contact me at my home.
Editor’s note: The donkey on the Berkshire Carousel is a replica of Missie, the donkey that accompanied Pittsfield author Kevin O’Hara on the 1979 circumnavigation of Ireland he chronicled in "Last of the Donkey Pilgrims."