Monday, July 28, 2008

The Beginning!

MAIL0068, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Pat was among several Korean War vets that studied lion training at 1,000 Oaks on the GI Bill. They all turned out well. Maybe Roger could elaborate on this.


Roger Smith said...

After WW II, it took Pat awhile for the GI Bill to include his studying wild animal training, mainly because the bureaucrats laughed at him.  He got on with Mel Koontz, a late friend of mine and a gifted trainer of great success both in the cage and in the movies.  Pat got his clearance trough his congressman in Ohio, on October 12, 1948.  Uncle Sam allotted him $90 a month, though Bill Johnston put it at $80.  Pat continued with Mel, but came under the demanding tutelage of John "Chubby" Guilfoyle, Clyde Beatty's second mentor. Thoroughly schooled, Pat finally departed the Compound in 1953 with an act of his own, bankrolled by Walker Dick, to open for Hamid-Morton, and the rest is the history of a top trainer.

I agree with the comment of Pat's passing. I last saw him at the Showfolks Circus, in Sarasota, in 1982. His whips and guns were for sale for $40, and lamentably, I didn't have the scratch.

Can someone tell us exactly when Pat died, and where he is interred? I have yet to find anyone who knows.

Roger Smith

Roger Smith said...

Chet Juszyk, a few years younger than Pat, returned from Korea, to become the 2nd veteran granted the GI Bill to apprentice as a trainer. The bureaucrats were at last hit with the question, "How do you tell a man he can't do what he wants for a living?", and Chet got approved. He progressed well in Thousand Oaks, and ascended to Head Trainer. He went out on many shows with World Jungle Compound cage acts, and worked on dozens of films with a variety of animals. That is Chet with his back to us, heading off the escaped lion in the train wreck scene of GSOE. Also in this scene, we get about a 3-frame glimpse of Mabel facing a tiger. Chet worked cats for 18 years until his near-fatal attack by Brutus lion, in 1965, forcing his retirement.

Now, take a look at this cage. We called it the Big Stage Arena, but note that blank back wall. It was also called the "death-trap cage." If a trainer was under attack back there, no one could get s pole in to help--they had to actually go in for the rescue, and this could not always be counted on if Benny Bennett had a day off. Benny went in every time anyone got in trouble, and bailed out every trainer or apprentice, including me, who worked there. This is how the cage looked when I first saw it in 1963.

Later, with Benny's help, Chet Juszyk had steel arena sections put around back, providing some four feet out from the wall. Look under Pat's topmounter to find the big double doors used for changing props and entrances of elephants and other acts. These remained, giving us a chance to get behind the barred wall to help a trainer from the outside, if possible. Thus we had landing-mat screen around the front, and Chet's bars around the back by the time I started there two seasons later.

Roger Smith