Bear Wrestling

Bear Wrestling

The carnival is coming to town!! Every summer that was the most exciting news to hear, when you were a kid, living in a small town. Cumberland Valley Shows…

that name still brings back some very memorable times for me as a young boy. One summer day, after spending hours in the hayfield, I jumped into the farm pond to wash off the day’s sweat and dirt, went home to clean up, then headed to the carnival. I had heard that you could get in free if you volunteered to wrestle a bear, and since money was scarce, I signed up to not only see the show, but to be a part of it as well. The huge tent was packed with local folks anxious to see a wrestling bear. They brought out a little bear, and put it in the middle of the stage (ring), handed it a 2 liter bottle of coke, and bottoms up…it guzzled the entire bottle. Noting the size of the little bruin, my confidence was high that I could handle the little fellow. I looked out at the audience and of course knew almost everyone, which was one of the perks of living in a small town. Then, with no fanfare, they took the little black bear out, and brought in a monster. Yep, they pulled the old switcheroo, and I began to panic, and quickly looked around the tent to see if there was a way to sneak out under the tent walls unnoticed. There was no escape, and I was not going to get out of this situation where my family name was at stake. The bear was huge, and had a mouth full of teeth, but a red leather muzzle was fitted securely around it’s mouth. I was relieved to hear someone say that the bear had no claws, but still the size of the thing was unnerving. My turn came and my plan of attack was to run toward the bear, take a flying leap, to grab him in a headlock. I took off and while I was in mid air, he stood up and caught me, twisting me like a pretzel. I had him around his thick neck, and hung on for dear life, but he easily shook me off, then fell on top of me, knocking the breath out of me. The stench of the animal made me gag, and I was spitting the loose fur out of my mouth. They finally pulled the beast off me, and asked me if I was ok…but all I could do was try to spit the fur out of my mouth, and run outside to get the horrendous stench out of my nostrils. I went home, and mama took one look at me asked me if I’d been fighting again. I told her that I wrestled a bear at the carnival, and all she said was….her usual…”boy, you are just not right!!” In the end, I should have paid the 50 cent show fee, but then…I wouldn’t have had this adventure.

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