Memories of the Marshfield Fair and a T.K.O’Malley’s Review

26 Aug

My earliest memory of the Marshfield Fair– which has been a tradition in the county since the 1800’s– is a memory that I attach to my great grandmother, Noni. I can’t exactly remember how old I must have been when she first began to take me, but I could guess roughly eight or nine–as I specifically remember not being tall enough to peek into the Clydesdale horse stalls to see them, without help or without pulling myself up by the bars of their stalls. I also remember the Bee keeper stalls, which even now as I am in my twenties continues to fascinate me for reasons that I can’t quite pinpoint. Noni had always been fascinated too. Together we would tromp the Fairgrounds, riding on the rides I was tall enough to squeak on and waving to Noni as I gleefully swung round, and round on them. I even remember that she would pay for me to play at least one game at the Fair to try to win a prize–but I never remember ever winning.

Noni passed roughly three years ago, and she and I hadn’t been to the Fair together for many years before that. For the first time in roughly twelve years last night; I went to the Marshfield Fair. It’s funny how memories come back so quickly and with such force when certain sights, smells and sounds overtake you. It was as if I were small again, and she was leading me around pointing at the prize winning animals, and giving me bites of cotton candy and various tasty fair foods. Her ghost seemed to linger with me for the whole night as I chatted with my friend and his family. I felt a small almost child-like joy as the lights of the Fairgrounds came to life, voices spiraling, laughing and screaming as we passed rides, vendors calling out to people as they passed by to tempt them into winning prizes full of sawdust. One prize I did stop to try my hand at winning–was a live Goldfish. I knew it was a rip-off and that I could buy a goldfish of my own at a pet store if I wanted, probably for less than what it was costing me to try to win one, ($5 for a bucket of ping-pong balls) but it was the excitement of the idea. The sense of old-time charm that drew me to it. And I happily won. Proudly, I displayed my prize–a fat orange Goldfish in a bag, swimming excitedly in a circle–to my friend who snapped a trophy photo of sorts for proof. I knew Noni would have smiled.

My Prize!

Posing with my Goldfish Prize at Marshfield Fair

In entirety, this weekend gave me back a sense of myself that I felt had been missing lately. I woke up this morning to a gorgeous day, and another friend waiting in the wings for an adventure to Scituate. Off we went, stopping only for an ATM, Gas and a quick car wash, we drove into the center of town where the charm of a seaside town has a heavy hold, and people milled about looking pleasant in their Sunday best. It was a sleepy sort of day, and the town moved at a pace that suited this. We wandered past the harbor at first, soaking in the smell of the ocean that I had missed all summer, before heading for lunch at a place called T.K O’Malleys.

T.K O’Malley’s had a typical sort of Irish Pub feel, but with the bonus of having the option of being able sit on the outside patio overlooking the bright, breezy harbor. Entering the restaurant was at first slightly confusing, as there are doorways to the left and right of you when you first walk in–luckily to the left we spotted a cluster of Hostesses sporting blue TKO’Malley’s t-shirts, hovering over the hostess stand and made our way that way. I held my hand up with two fingers, which in any restaurant would generally indicate table for two, but here only got me slightly blank stares, a chomp on what I hoped was gum in one girl’s mouth, and a mumbled, “Inside or out” from one of the hostesses that had her back to us. I looked to my friend for confirmation, and luckily he confirmed we wanted to be outside as I had barely managed to hear what had been asked. The hostesses then handed us a small slip of white paper that read, “Patio Voucher” and told us to head out to the patio. This was somewhat irritating to me. I had worked as a Hostess at Fenway park for a short while,  so I know that  it is the job of a good Hostess to greet customers, direct them to the appropriate table, ask if they need anything else, and alert the waitstaff that they have a new customer. These girls (who were only busy chatting at the hostess stand) did not guide us to the patio door–they only laughed and told us, “Any door out.” and waved us aside. It felt lazy and unwelcoming. Not a good start.

Once we got out to the patio, the confusion continued. More hostesses in blue shirts at another hostess stand clustered, staring blankly at us as we handed them the slip of paper the previous hostesses had handed us inside. The girls asked us how many again, to which we answered two, one scurried around the patio looking at the few vacant tables before coming back looking confused. Then one of them asked us to wait as they went inside, conceivably to interrogate the other hostesses about us. There were just way too many hostesses, and not enough communication. Finally a hostess returned and asked if five or ten minutes would be okay–to which we agreed. By this time we were slightly frustrated. Why had the indoor hostesses not been informed of a wait time for the outside? There appeared to be more than enough of them to run messages, and inside it seemed to be slow.Luckily, it was   only roughly two minutes for a wait and we were promptly seated at a table with an umbrella and menus.

Our waiter was the best service we had received since we entered the restaurant. He arrived straightaway with his clipboard to take our drink orders, (card us for said drinks as I constantly look underage) and scurry off to the bar to bring them back. The beer selection was fair, and my companion and immensely enjoyed sipping them with the cool breeze off of the water and the warm sunlight on our skin as we browsed our menus. The food was mainly a selection of pub foods–and not much to write home about. Though they did appear to have a varied selection of “University” themed burgers. Should I ever return there–I will probably investigate these. The main draw of TKO’ Malley’s has to be it’s prime waterside spot.  As we were waterside, I craved fish and took part in their Cape “COD” Ruben sandwich, which was a cod filet on rye with thousand island dressing, coleslaw and a slice of cheese. The portions were HUGE and I only managed to finish half of the sandwich but it wasn’t bad. The dressing and slaw were tasty, though the fish seemed a little mushy and was probably less fresh than I would have hoped. What the fish lacked–the slightly toasted bread made up for in crunch and flavor. My friend and I also shared a basket of sweet potato fries which were served with Maple syrup–but I wouldn’t recommend having these with the Syrup. The fries are delicious on their own–and unless you’re a big  Maple Syrup person–the Syrup overpowers the fries taste.

Prices were fair when the bill came, and we tipped our friendly and helpful waiter well. We were pointedly ignored by all of the hostesses on our way out. I couldn’t help but think of how easy it would have been to dine and dash had I been that sort of person. They wouldn’t have even noticed us.

All and all, the day was wonderful and easy-paced. Full of winding seaside roads, looming gorgeous houses, and even a stop at a historical lighthouse. I returned home sleepy but full of a bubbling happiness that only a day near the shore can bring.

 

 TKO ‘Malley’s website link in case you would like to check it out for yourself.

More information on the Marshfield Fair.

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