Niagara Gazette — He bought it sight unseen ... and without telling his wife.
"My wife was at church with the kids," Hummel recalled. "She came back and said, 'What ... is ... that ...' "
The marriage survived. So did the ride. They rebuilt the floors and put new seats in, and with other kiddie rides purchased by other arts supporters, it became a fixture of the festival.
"It was a big hit right from the beginning," Hummel said. "The place would draw 80,000 people. It was a big hit and we had a lot of fun running them for that period of time. It's beautifully built; we enjoyed learning how to make it work and respect the engineering skill involved. We had a wonderful time."
Eventually, the rides' run at the festival faded. Hummel said he and his cohorts gave them to the city of Greensboro for use in a kiddie park ... but after they sat in a warehouse for years, he said, "I simply went down there and said, 'We want them back.' "
At some point after that, the Hummels were vacationing in Canada, heard about the Carrousel Factory Museum and decided to stop in on their way home. They arrived nearly at closing, took a whirlwind tour ... and the eventual home of the little car ride was sealed.
"I could tell she had the energy to pull this thing off," he said of Proefrock. "I could tell y'all were doing an absolutely fantastic job in preservation with the resources you had.
"I wanted it to be in a place where it would be appreciated and used. What you're doing up there is an absolute miracle."
The Hummels attended last week's dedication of the exhibit, and Sam Hummel helped to cut the ribbon on his beloved ride. He spoke about how he had the timing of it down to a science (to maximize anticipation in waiting children) and about how he'd collected "so many grins" from children riding it over the years.