Way back in the first half of the twentieth century, any town that had any civic pride, had a carousel. Also known as a Merry-go-round, these amusement rides were the focal point of the town park and provided great excitement for children of all ages. For most, the fun of riding a golden horse or perhaps a bright blue camel diminished as you aged up above 10 or 12. Even the animals in the outer row that went up and down as they went around, became too tame. Waving to parents and friends as you whizzed past for the twentieth time, soon got old.
The answer to this marketing problem was the “ring man”. Above the walkway that surrounded the rotating platform, was a small perch where the “ring man” sat. His job was to feed small (1 ½ inch diameter ) iron rings into a chute where they rolled down to appear one at a time , to a spot where a person standing at the edge of the spinning platform could possibly grab one as they whirled past. If you were tall enough, you could impress your girlfriend with your skill by grabbing as many rings as possible without falling off. Actually, I have seen girls do this too, but it was mostly a male thing. When the ride stopped, you could make a big show of counting your rings as you threw them back into the barrel to be dispensed again. But wait! There is more!
The ring man also had brass rings. Randomly he would feed a brass ring into the chute. If you caught a brass ring, it was worth a free ride. You could trade a brass ring for a free ticket and save the nickel cost of riding again. See the excitement building? Probably you would have to buy ice cream cones for your girlfriend and yourself , just to cool off.
You just can't beat times like that on a summer evening any more. Although some carousels are still with us, the ring man is no more.