Sunday, February 05, 2017

#8 Hugo Schmitt

Maybe I can get my wife to comment on this picture.

6 comments:

Barbara Woodcock said...

I think that is a pretty thigh carry. Usually I do not care for thigh or body carries. The reason being that some positions expose delicate areas. Buckles and I created our style of leg carry because I wanted to put as many aerial poses as possible into our act. It was the same thing with the whirl. I liked the elephant to hold the ankle so the body had a nice arch to the back. And when dismounting the pyramid, I liked to strike a ballet pose after standing ( no rope ) on one side of Sadie before I would swing down making another aerial pose as I jumped to the pedestal before Sadie stepped on me. There are no pictures of that, because people didn't realize it was a posing dismount. Most girls rode down as I had to do later after my back injury. The whole thing to an elephant act I believe is making it look good and easy while mounting and dismounting. I think it was all the little things. Like on point while standing on Lydia's leg on her hind leg stand, after she had just hippy hopped around the ring with me kicking in time with her. The whirl the girl usually set in the trunk. Jean Allen held with both hands and the elephant wrapped her trunk around her whole leg, Jean kicking in that direction , if I am not mistaken. We put a web loop on the headpiece. With a cable around the neck going to the loop for safety, again trying to bring more aerial poses into the act. Buckles also raised the tubs ( with the W on them ) several inches higher than all the other tubs. Boy did I get a few skinned shins. I had to get used to jumping the extra height. The muscles in my legs would be weak when we were off for a short time. I would always take dance to try to keep them built up. But they were not the same muscles. ( I was allergic to dust and couldn't practice in the barn.) "Lydia" always knew when I was weak in the legs and we did not train her for this, but she would reach around and push me up on her leg for the hippy hop. Then when I would get my strength back she would stop doing it. She was a great mount bull. She used to throw me up with her trunk to her back for the merry-go-round to a standing position. And when we parted company we didn't think anything about it we just thought they saw it. But when any one went to mount her for Spec. she would throw them over her back into the manure behind her. It was not her fault she was just doing what she had been trained for. In the beginning she was a better mount bull than "Anna May." "Sadie" & "Lydia" did the most mounts. The Three Woodcock Performing Elephants was a hard act, but it was fun. We have a DVD Kenny Dodd gave us from the NY 1964 Worlds Fair. I love that tape. I am not sure who taped it either Fay Alexander or Emmet Kelly Jr. I think.....Barbara.....





Patricia said...

Barbara, were you ever dumped in practice or a show doing a free stand (no stand strap) by any of your elephants? Were you ever injured doing mounts? Sorry for the stupid question, but I am curious. Gee Gee always used you for the example of perfection for mounts, difficult standard to try and meet!

Barbara Woodcock said...

Patricia I will get back to you, forgive me I must run to the Drug Store. And the answer is a little longer. I loved Gee Gee from the time I was 13 years old. Love.....Barbara.....

Barbara Woodcock said...

Dear Patricia, no I was not perfect. I wish. First I used to watch Gee Gee when she would perform, and try to copy her style, then add my touches. That is what my Mom had always told me. That when I admired someone to, watch them and learn from them. At that time Gee Gee was assisting Bill Powell in his wire act. He was fantastic, and Gee Gee would move so beautifully and then pose styling to Bill. So I learned so much from Gee Gee. I told her about it years later. Now back to your question. First there are no stupid questions as far as I am concerned. Yes in fact the stand up mount on the sit up stand up mount. When we first joined Polack Bros. Circus we couldn't use Anna May in their act. So we broke Opal for it. I had always argued with Buckles that that mount was strong enough to do alone. He said we would be repeating the sit up. So we did it on the sit up feet to back ( right over the ring curb. ) VERY DANGEROUS. So on Polack their sit up was spread out all around the ring. Again Buckles insisting it was not strong enough to do alone. Well it was the first show, and Parley Bear sent us a wire saying to break a leg. I did. ( I broke an ankle.) As the bulls were spread out Buckles said Opal's name she turned her head to look at him and it threw me off. (I finished the act.) But it did show Buckles that we needed to do that mount alone & it was strong enough to do alone and repeat. That was the only time that it was that bad of results. If we had Anna May it would not have been so bad as when we taught Anna May mounts, leg carry etc. I gave A.M. the commands making her pay more attention to me than Buckles. There were times that some things happened that embarrassed me, but did not hurt me. You know the man upstairs looks after fools. And sometimes we were fools in some of the things we would try. There was just some things that I had to try, no matter how dangerous. I had wanted to be an elephant girl from the age of five. And I always wanted to push the bar a little higher no matter what. I just HAD TO DO IT. And when ever a friend wanted to learn my mounts I enjoyed sharing with them. I was lucky to have the teachers I did Jean Allen & Louie Reid. They would hit me on the butt with the cane end of their bull hook. I would go home after practice and cry. BUT I was right back there the next day for more practice. And I loved them dearly. They did not have to teach me. I think they saw some thing in me. And they didn't have the time to waste on trying not to hurt my feelings. I wanted to learn so bad I would have done any thing. The mount Ben did where he ran up Anna May's back came from Jean Allen. I used to tell him some of the mounts they taught me and he would go out to A.M. And do it. I was very lucky and a far cry from perfect. But I loved every minute of it, as I am sure you did. Thank you for your interest.......Barbara Woodcock......

Barbara Woodcock said...

I started out to just answer your question. And end up writing a book.....Barbara...

Patricia said...

Barbara, thank you so much for your thorough answer.
Sometimes people don't realize how many stories we all have. I liken it to a tree, the trunk as the basis of circus, and each limb a part of the circus experience (life on the road, animals we've known,
embarrassing moments(!) etc.) each smaller branch a more detailed memory, and finally each leaf a story on it's own yet all connected. Does that make sense? I loved your reply, thank you. I identify with so many things you mentioned, like that gut-level desire to learn, even perhaps to jeopardize your own safety.

Regarding mounts, I only did that for one year, 1980. I guess I did ok, Gee Gee only yelled at me a few times, but my feet were more comfortably meant to be on the ground in the arena with the cats. I also learned quickly it paid more to work the elephants than to ride and do mounts. But it was fun to learn, and although I was a bit out of my element, I was so glad to have learned from Gee Gee. I can hear her now: "Dammit girl! How many times do I have to tell you? DON'T KEEP YOUR ARMS STRAIGHT LIKE THAT! Keep 'em flexed so you don't get your elbows popped out!!" Yes, Ma'am...