Until I was ten years old (when we went to Central America) we lived on Dawson Street in South Dallas, in walking distance of Fair Park. I remember it as a long walk, and sometimes we took the bus.
Mother would occasionally take us to the Aquarium, which was free then. Next to the Dallas zoo, this was probably my favorite place to visit. I don’t think I realized then it was located at Fair Park.
The section where the “rides” were was actually the most exciting part to me as a child. Mother would tell us we could ride the merry-go-round right before we left. That was probably the least expensive ride. We would look forward to riding it and know there was no use begging to ride anything else. After that ride, we knew we had to go and there was no use begging to stay longer.
We would go to the live stock show at Fair Park every year. Mother was raised in West Texas. Her father was a share cropper, and their family lived on various farms before moving to Littlefield. She enjoyed looking at all the prize animals. For my part, I don’t think I was afraid of bugs as a child, but big animals terrified me. I remember walking down a center aisle in long sheds with stalls on each side filled with enormous animals, all mooing or lowing or squealing or whatever they did, making a lot of noise. I was always ever so relieved to get out at the other end.
When I was back in Dallas when I was fifteen, it was the Ferris wheel instead of the merry-go-round that was most interesting. I rode it once with a boy, the son of a Baptist pastor. (We had just come back from Central America and this was the nearest thing to a “date” I had ever had.) I think my cousin was dating his brother, and her mother took the four of us to the rides at Fair Park one evening.
According to Wikipedia, the buildings at Fair Park were built for the Texas Centennial in 1936. When I was in graduate school in the 1980’s, I met a fellow student a few years older than I who remembered going to the Texas Centennial when she was a child. We enjoyed reminiscing about our childhood experiences at Fair Park.
I was born in 1937, and I remember well my father talking about working on those buildings in 1936. He was a preacher by calling and by choice, but a carpenter when he had to be to make a living. What he especially remembered for the rest of his life was working on the ceilings, hammering over his head all day. He would come home dead tired–and terribly sore until he got used to it. He would have been about 25 at the time.