Sugar Grove couple goes round and round before buying and rebuilding vintage merry go round
“This is us,” said Diane Enos, as she and her husband Louis looked over the vintage merry go round that’s been restored and assembled in the garage behind their house.
“We’ve been married for 53 years,” Diane, of Sugar Grove, said.
The Enos’ have been collecting pieces of history and storing them away in their garage, which besides the carousel houses three vintage cars, multiple old music boxes and victrolas, as well as an Edison photograph, multiple free-standing carved carousel horses, a barrel organ, a mahogany carved Dandy Lion, and multiple dolls, trinkets, and treasures of days gone by.
The carousel was Diane’s unicorn.
Built in the early 1930’s by the Allan Herschell Company in North Tonawanda, N.Y., it was one of the first to have cast aluminum horses rather than wooden. It was brought home with Dan Cornish, who was a clown with Barnum and Bailey Circus, and had the carousel shipped to his hometown of Bear Lake when he returned there.
Diane can recall going to Bear Lake where Cornish operated an ice cream and hot dog stand and sold popcorn, as well as rides on the carousel for ten cents. Cornish passed away in 1983 a bachelor, and his nephew Harold Cornish took ownership of the carousel at that point.
The horses were put in a barn, said Diane, and the rest of the carousel was taken apart and stored for 40 years.
“I tried for 40 years to get that carousel,” said Diane.
The Enos’ owned a feed mill in Sugar Grove and Harold had come to buy some feed one day in 2013 when Diane asked him, “when are you going to sell me that carousel I’ve been asking for for 40 years?”
After many attempts to get Harold to negotiate a price, Diane said he finally told her that day to come down and make an offer. It probably was just that he wasn’t ready to part with the carousel until then, she said.
“I told him we’re going to build a building for it and restore it,” said Diane.
That’s when he agreed to sell.
On Sept. 4, 2013, Louis and Diane showed up in Bear Lake with two trailers and a pickup truck. That’s what it took to haul the entire operation back to Sugar Grove. The horses came in crates and the rest of the pieces were all disassembled and packed.
“Not one piece was missing,” she said.
Some restoration to the motor and a new coat of paint for the horses, and Diane said that she and Louis came out to the garage on Christmas Day of 2013 and turned it on for the first time.
Plenty of people had a hand in the carousel’s restoration; Wes Augustine, who built his own smaller hand-powered carousel that Diane had bought a few years before, helped by repainting the horses and building a new floor for the carousel; Kim Snyder helped re-upholster the benches; and Tim Behrend painted the clowns on the benches and the centerpieces where the mirrors and lights are inside the carousel.
Diane’s brother and sister-in-law, Kurt and Karen Enos, helped, as did Levi Shetler, who made the tarp for the top of the carousel, and Andy Byler made new reins leather reins and stirrups for the 20 horses.
As for who enjoys the carousel today, Louis said, “kids like it, there’s no problem there.”
But they’ve had more than a handful of adults be delighted to see the working piece of history in the Enos’ garage. They’ve had people on the Sugar Grove garden tour, members of the Antique Study Club, and even children’s preschool classes and girl scout groups come to take a peek.
Also in the Enos’ garage museum are hand-painted dolls, hand-carved animals, a memorial to Clifton Wolcott, who is Diane’s first cousin and the inspiration for the film Black Hawk Down, a barrel organ, 1960’s circus posters, murano glass, purses made by Whiting and Davis Co., carnival glass, a 1928 Studebaker, a 1930 Model A Coupe, and a Harry Shay 1929 Roadster.