Eve Hartley called me half a dozen times about her 1959 football movies. I was slow to get back, because I didn't connect her with the calliope.
They are cool movies.
Back in the 1950s, some news agency collected highlights of college games, strung them together on huge reels of 16 mm movie film with sound and sent them to TV stations.
Four huge reels of this stuff now sit in Eve's living room, along with a monster sound movie projector. We watched excerpts from the 1959 Army-Navy game (Navy won, 43-12) while Eve told me how her husband died horribly from toxic bacteria in that very room, leaving her with a lifetime of stuff to get rid of.
Wanna buy a calliope? She has one to sell, along with the truck to carry it.
It's huge and brass and shiny, sitting in her garage along with her face-painting paints, her clown suits, the funny hats she and Ray wore and sold to kids and much more.
This is what happens when you have a long, full life with lots of stuff. You get old and alone and look around and think, "Now what?"
Eve and Ray used to be all over town.
They ran a gas station on Washington Boulevard in the 1970s, sold it and bought the calliope. They did shows all over Top of Utah: Peach Days, Days of '47, Roy Days, you name it.
Banks and grocery stores featured them. They'd set up in parks and draw crowds. They dressed as clowns, painted kids' faces and did balloon animals.
I remember hearing their calliope in the Pioneer Days Parade decades ago. It was playing "(Won't you Come Home) Bill Bailey?" to promote Bill Bailey running for Weber County Commission.
Must have worked. He won.
Did the calliope pay for itself?
"I don't know, but we had a lot of fun," she said. "I miss the children."
Ray was an accumulator. I'd go to yard sales in their garage in Marriott-Slaterville and wonder where he got the tables full of stuff: half a dozen movie projectors, three vacuum cleaners, heaps of gloves, tables full of kitchen implements and who knows what else.
Ray eventually retired from his day job in construction. Five years ago, he went in for radiation treatment for skin cancer on his face. Next thing he knew, he had an infection, eventually discovered to be MRSA, a bug highly resistant to antibiotics.
He struggled and suffered. It was no good.
"I brought him home, and he sat in that chair," indicating the recliner in her living room. "He was laboring so hard. He died in two days. But I've had a pretty tough life. I'm a survivor."
Pushing 85, she's trying to clean out Ray's stuff.
She'd love to sell that calliope, which she has listed for about $15,000, including the truck, face paints, toys and everything. It's got a generator, compressor and hoses for inflating balloon animals.
Drive it away, you're in business.
The rest of the stuff?
"I could open another Deseret Industries and be open on Sundays," she joked.
She leaned on her walker and pondered her next move, literally and figuratively. "I've had seven surgeries on my knee -- I'm metal from here up," she said and pointed to her shin.
"All I've got is memories. What can I say? But I'm stubborn. I'll never give up."
Eve would rather strangers don't call, so if you are interested in the movies, or the calliope, give me a call and I'll give her your number.
The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232, or email@example.com. He also blogs at www.standard.net.