As a young teen living in Mamaroneck, New York Rockwell rode his bicycle to the White Plains Fair. Rockwell met �"Amy�" from a sideshow act" �Amy the Wild Woman�" and to his horror, found himself literally pulled into her act. After a wink of her eye, while she pretended to chew on his shoe, Rockwell�s fear turned to fascination and enjoyment. Amy laughed and said to him, �"Scairt as a rabbit one minute, bold as a bear the next."� Rockwell returned the following day to repeat and be paid for his performance.
In Merry-Go-Round, Rockwell revisits this intense childhood memory in a scene painted in a succession of vision fields. A carousel horse dominates most of the foreground. Behind this, an artisan is painting a second carousel horse and beyond this looms a painted backdrop of Amy the Wild Woman. The artisan painting the horse is actually Gene Pelham, Rockwell�s studio assistant who was an artist as well. The three boys could represent Rockwell�s three sons. Knowing the simple details of Rockwell�s life, the picture appears to be autobiographical and depicts the pull Rockwell feels to be bold and to experiment with modernism instead of painting the same horse over and over in hisartistic journey.