“I caught the brass ring!”

By Bob Perks

catching the brass ring in life

It is not just enough to ride the carousel, but to catch the brass ring.
Like life, we all can’t be in the right place at the right time. Success just doesn’t just happen by accident, it takes planning and hard work.
You can sit anywhere on the carousel and enjoy the ride, but to catch the ring, one must go to the very edge and stretch beyond your reach.
I have ridden merry-go-rounds and carousels many times in my life. I can say I have grasp for and caught many rings as we zipped by the extended ring dispenser but I have never before caught the ultimate “brass ring.”
That is until recently.
Marianne and I love to go to one of the area’s finest amusement parks, Knoebel’s Park in Elysburg, Pa. It is one of the few that has free admission and plenty of tables for picnics with family and friends.
Oh, and the very best french fries in the world!
Although we don’t ride many rides, we always take time to ride the famous carousel. It was built in 1913 by George Kremer and features hand carved horses by Charles Carmel.
(Note: click on that line to see and hear this carousel ride on You Tube – fabulous!)
Riding this gem takes me back to my early childhood days and permits me to fire up my imagination and share the ride with thousands of people throughout the parks history.
Many have ridden but not all have caught the treasured brass ring.
So, what’s the big deal?
For me that day it meant that the only way I can win is if I try. The only way I can have what I want from life is to push myself to the limit and reach beyond my grasp. No, I won’t always get what I want. I won’t always catch the brass ring, but I certainly won’t get it by standing on the sidelines and watch the others go for it.
As we got in line I counted ahead noting that only so many people would have the chance to sit on those special horses on the outside of the carousel. Marianne and I both had a chance to get into position and did.
Climbing up on the old wooden horse I felt the excitement and exhilaration that comes with taking a chance. My heart beat a little faster, my palms began to sweat as the calliope pumped out the old songs and the thumping, crashing beat of the snare drum set the pace.
The ringing of the bell sounded the warning that the ride was about to begin. I looked around quickly locating the position of the ring dispenser and waited a few turns until the young girl in charge finally extended the arm.
Some before me were so quick that they could actually catch a number of rings with each grab.
Every pass yielded something for me but my hopes began to fade.
From out of nowhere a young woman jumped on the platform in front of me. I was startled and upset at the same time because I lost my concentration. I was shocked to discover that in my hand was the proverbial “brass ring.” The prized token of success was mine and I didn’t even know it.
I looked down as she handed me a ticket for another ride in exchange for the ring. I wanted the ring but couldn’t keep it.
I turned around and waved my treasure at my wife. She, as always, was supportive and happy for the grown man with child-like dreams.
I held onto the ticket although it offered little proof of the accomplishment.
Later, as we were walking through the park, my wife stopped and handed me the above pictured “Genuine Carousel” brass ring. She bought it for me in the Carousel Shop.
Yes, I guess anyone could buy one and say they caught the ring. But only a few can boast that they did
The ride is open, my friend. The music is playing. Your horse awaits.
Don’t stand on the side and watch others go for those things you long for. Go for it, my friend.
“I caught the Brass Ring!” The Brass Ring awaits you, too!
– Bob
“I wish you enough!”
(see more of Bob’s words of wisdom at http://archive.aweber.com/iwishyouenough)


This simple but so beautiful sharing by Bob brought back distant memories from my Summer visits to the Jersey seashore and the famous Seaside Heights boardwalk with its carousel at the pier amusement end of that fun area.  Many the rides I too spent catching the ring, but I don’t recall ever catching the “brass ring” back then.

Here’s that famous Seaside Heights, NJ carousel, still providing rides and music 100 years later:

carousel Seaside Heights NJ

Seaside Heights, NJ

For a detailed description and history of the carousel(s) at Seaside Heights over the years, click here -> Carousels

Today as I read Bob’s story, I see the brass ring of life much differently.  I have been so fortunate, truly blessed, many times to have “caught that brass ring” especially in receiving a heart transplant back in 1994 that makes it possible for me today to reflect on Bob’s story and my good fortune.  Too often we spend our lives focusing on the negatives, not noticing the opportunities that await us if we but “reach out” and take the risk with preparation (like positioning ourselves on the carousel of life to be able to even try to catch it…) of leaning out while hanging on to that carousel horse pole with outstretched arm, feeling the thrill of motion as the carousel revolves to the music of life, hoping to catch that ring, and hoping that it will finally be that special “brass ring” of life.

My good friend and fellow heart transplant recipient, Sam, once owned the famous Asbury Park carousel.  When it was dismantled many years ago Sam held on to some of those ancient and famous horses, even to the point of still having two huge ones in his small home today.  Talk about brass rings, a heart transplant and two carousel horses!  Wow!

Here’s Sam’s carousel in Asbury Park many years ago:

the carousel

So, what is your “brass ring” in life and how did you prepare to “catch it” with all the risks that reaching out to catch it involves?

Thanks for bringing back those memories, Bob.