This merry-go-round entered the Trimper story in 1912 when the family ordered it from the Herschell-Spillman Company in upstate New York, a famous firm in the so-called “golden age” of carousels. This one is a giant of its type, 50 feet in diameter. Herschell-Spillman did a similarly big project in the same period for Coney Island, but that one is long gone, destroyed by fire. This survivor is a priceless time capsule from days when immigrant artisans used all manner of building-trades projects—even kiddie rides like this—as artistic canvases. Horses, dragons, frogs, and more are featured in the menagerie of wooden animals, many depicted with a frightening aspect that evokes the dark moments in classic fairy tales. Eyes are wild with fury, or is it fear? Necks are twisted, veins bulging, and mouths wide open, tearing at bridles. There is a reason those horses were carved as if in the midst of a ferocious battle. The word carousel comes from the Spanish carosella, or “little war.” Rides like this have their roots in military horsemanship training exercises that date back more than a millennium, to the time of the Crusades. Some 4,000 such carousels were built during that golden age in the early 1900s. Only about 150 remain. We are lucky to have one here on Delmarva, especially one that the Trimpers have kept around long enough for children from four or even five generations in the same families to enjoy.
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