“Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9, this is the Brass Ring.”
Road trips as a kid, from Georgia to Michigan to Western New York and back again, I heard it over and over.
Back before Waze. Before GPS. My Dad had his CB radio in the car, listening in to truckers talk about traffic, road conditions, and all kinds of other topics. Back before podcasts and Audible and Sirius, there was CB radio to pass the time and exchange information. (There was also= 8-track cassettes and the States and Capitals game, but those are for another post.)
Brass Ring was my Dad’s CB handle. Why the Brass Ring? When I was growing up, one of my Dad’s many interests / hobbies was carousels. He owned a small merry-go-round when I was very young. Even after he sold it, we kept a full-sized carousel horse in our living room. We had a kids’ barber chair shaped like a carousel horse on our front porch. We had a number of carousel-horse art piece throughout our home.
What’s the Brass Ring? In the early 1900’s, many carousels were built with a “game” for the riders on the outside ring of horses. Someone would slide rings down a dispenser, and you had to reach far out from your horse (while it was moving) and try to grab the brass ring. Many of the rings were iron. It took courage, skill, timing, determination, and luck to grab the brass ring, the real prize.
In my many years of riding carousels with (and in memory of) my Dad, I’ve only ridden 1 with the ring game. I was probably in my teens, riding the carousel in Coney Island. Many people don’t even know the brass ring exists. I leaned off my horse and tapped the dispenser several times around before the old man working figured out I wanted to play.
I recently started a new business. When trying to think of a solid name with some history and meaning, I remembered my Dad and the Brass Ring. He used it as his persona. He said it with a big-fish swagger, even though we were usually traveling along in a conversion van or minivan. He owned his place in that conversation, no matter what he was driving.
As I push forward into something new, I hope I carry on his swaggering spirit, as well as the courage, skill, timing, determination, and luck it takes to claim the real prize. It will take some reaching. I may feel like I’m losing my balance as I really stretch. Sometimes I’ll pull the iron ring. But if I just focus and stay in the game, my turn at the big prize will come around.