Saturday, December 31, 2005

Message from a friend

In an unrelated matter, if you would scroll down to the Spangles Circus program and click on the messages, you will see one from one of my best friends in Jr. High School in Hot Springs, Ark. Lewis Morgan.
In this picture Lewis is standing at right and at left is his step father the coach Dick Nance. Unfortunately I can't remember the names of any of the players in the back row except #4 Larry Stephens, maybe some of you folks in Garland County can help me.
Kenneth Austin holding the ball was the tallest guy on the team but the least aggressive. In one game he got manhandled and the ball taken away by a smaller player. Coach Nance called a time out and kept telling Austin to hold the ball up high and he replied "Coach, he hit me on the arm!" then Coach reached up and pulled his head down on his shoulder and said "Poor baby, did it get hit on the arm?" Then he yelled "If I was as big and ugly as you are I'd score 30 points every game. Now get back in there!".
As my Verizon daughter Dalilah says of me today "He needs work on his people skills".

Damage control

I see on the front page of this mornings Tampa Tribune an article regarding the new Ken & Nicole Show, now in rehearsal, apologizing before the fact. I had hoped that finally some mention might be made of who actually appears in the program, other than the clowns stolen from Carson & Barnes, the rest remain secret.
Mr. Feld was in action copping a plea saying that despite the downsizing, the logo "The Greatest Show on Earth" remains in good hands. I don't think that this is quite what
P.T. Barnum had in mind.

Only 4 more days #1 The time is just creeping by!

I read in the Tampa Tribune a few days ago that Bello gets $600,000.
Yes, but does he get cook house and mileage?

Only 4 more days #2

Only 4 more days #3

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I see where the Clyde Beatty Circus is booked into Winston-Salem, NC Coliseum for Jan. 22, Sunday matinee only. Full Price $20 and Kids $7.50.

The "Subscribe" function

My dad has received a few questions about the "Subscribe" feature at the right.

If you enter your email- you will receive overnight the posts of the previous day. So if dad posts 4 articles with pics today, at 1am the following night it will send a email with those articles to those who have subscribed. This is just another way to receive the posts.

This might be usefull for those who cannot access daily or often enough and want a easier way to "catch up" what has been posted.

Just giving the viewing public options.

Also on the right near the bottom is XML this is for Feeds - if you don't know what they are, don't worry about it. But if your curious..... Here are some links about News Feeds (RSS/XML) if your curious. It's the new "fad" on the internet.

What is News Feeds and how do I use them...

Now we only have 6 days to wait!

Native American Bill's Wild West #1

Indian Bill's Wild West #2

Indian Bill's Wild West #3

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Big Show is coming to town next week

"Big Rosie" #1

This is Rudy Mueller and "Rosie" as they appeared at the NY Hippodrome in Billy Rose's "Jumbo". It doesn't get any more opulent than this.

"Big Rosie" #2

I don't know anything about them prior to "Jumbo". Mueller had a mixed act many years afterward with "Rosie", a camel, a pony and a Great Dane dog.
They eventually settled out in California and "Rosie" was retired to the Everett, Wash. Zoo in 1951 and died there 4/6/56.
Maybe Jim Clubb might have some early European background.

"Big Rosie" #3

All I can say is, if I could wear something glitzy like these gentlemen have I would come out of retirement tomorrow. The attitudes would be easy for me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New show with a new title

I heard an interesting bit of scuttlebutt yesterday that Dickie Garden had entered into an agreement with Clyde Beatty's son to use the Beatty title on Mr. Garden's 2006 circus.

The Banana Man

As a kid on the winter dates I remember the Banana Man well.
Other acts on the Spangles Show, aside from Tiebor's seals, were an Alfred Court cat act worked by Joe Walsh, The Parroff's, The Lopez Trio, Pallenberg's bears, Elly Ardelty, The Novak Sisters, The Walkmirs, Dr. Ostermaier and "Doheos", Adriana and Charly, The Kimris Duo and last but not least 5 Ringling elephants presented by James Reynolds and Andrea Gallagher.
I might add that Robert Ringling is the man who came up with this show.

Spangles Circus 1943

Speaking of Roland Tiebor, during his long tenure with the Ringling Show, his was one of the acts appearing with that show's #2 Unit in 1943, Spangles Circus.
That season business was so big in Madison Sq. Garden that a smaller version of the show remained in the Garden after the big show had left.
It, like the new Ken & Nicole Show now in rehearsal at the Tampa Fairgrounds, used a one ring format that partitioned off a large portion of the building placing the choice seats on the round end.
The opening night was attended by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt but alas this enterprise eventually failed, maybe a big TV screen might have saved it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Cole Bros. Circus/ Fuzzy Plunkett

This is the gentleman to whom Lee Stevens refers.

Tiebor's seals #1

These pictures come from a Collier's article in January of 1945 and probably done at the Tiebor home on Tonawanda, NY. Mr. Tiebor is quoted as saying that in training "Use kindness, patience and lots of fish but keep your neck away from his teeth, when he bites he means it" a piece of advice that would not be lost on me were I in the seal business.
Roland's seals were with the Ringling Show for many years and those of you who have seen the GSOE movie will recall the opening animal display with Tiebor's seals, Rix' bears and Peterson's jockey dogs. Could you imagine that kind of talent in one display today?
My dad and Roland had been friends, I think on the Floto Show and later while making the Orrin Davenport Shrine dates they would cut up jackpots, I wish I had paid closer attention.

Tiebor's seals #2

The article was not complete but from what I read there was no mention of the previous year's Hartford fire. The seal den was always spotted in the back yard rather then in the menagerie for more convenient access to the circus ring so Roland had to be right in the middle of it.
I have seen film clips of seals being loaded from their den into a rather large two wheel cart in which they were then transported right up to the back of the ring. This protected their flippers from stubble and debris. I remember Walter Jennier had a long strip of canvas he used for the same purpose.
You would think that any animal that bounces around on ice glaciers would have indestructable feet but appearantly not.

Tiebor's seals #3

Mr. Tiebor's son Roland Jr. worked the act in later years and in fact may still do so. With the possible exception of Jimmy Reynolds, most sea lion guys were not flamboyant people, rather low key.

Tiebor's seals #4

This is Mr. Tiebor in earlier days.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I never doubted for a moment the Bucs could do it!

And despite the possibility of being censured by the U.S. Supreme Court, we extend to everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Jimmy and Otto

Quite a few comments on yesterday's wrestler story. Here is a follow up.

Nuf Ced #1

Nuf Ced #2

Nuf Ced #3

Friday, December 23, 2005

Sparks Circus 1920's #1

This is Franz Woska, well known animal trainer that presented a cat act on the show for years.
I have a loose leaf folder with all the elephant men of note listed and the order of the shows they were on. I wish I had done the same for cat trainers, Mr. Woska had an outstanding career and after the Sparks Show was taken off the road following the 1931 season he remained in the Sarasota quarters as a trainer and sometimes would present a cat act to the public.

Sparks Circus 1920's #2

I love this picture, all it says on the back is "Rose Alexander of the Alexander troupe".
This is a good example of how basic circus life was. The performers had a couple of buckets outside waiting for the water wagon to come by to fill up and Mz. Alexander would have a collapsible rack in her trunk she could hang things on and that was about it.
When we showed in urban areas my mother would go marching off the lot with a bundle of dirty clothes, knock on doors until she found some woman with a washing machine, she would always offer to pay but more often than not it would turn into a social event and sometimes she might even bring back cookies and stuff as well.
In poorer neighborhoods it was just the opposite, the people would come on the lot with food for sale and offers to perform various services.
On the Cole Show I once overheard one of the candy butchers say "I wonder if Sally and Suzie will be by this year?" My wildest fantasy was to actually catch a glimpse of Sally or Suzie.

Sparks Circus 1920's #3

Johnny Herriott was once telling me of the outstanding horse trainers of this period and Carlos Carreon shown above was high on the list, especially with liberty acts.

Sparks Circus 1920's #4

This is the show's wrestler Tommy Mullins that appeared in the concert or aftershow.
To those of you who don't know, it occurred to someone years ago that after the performance had concluded and the show was being dismantled, if you started removing the general admissions seats first the front grandstand would be available for another half hour and if you had something really unique you might be able to sell tickets for an after show.
At first it was like Vaudeville with singers, dancers, comic numbers, etc. and was actually a concert and the name stuck. How it turned into a Wild West Show I couldn't say and why a wrestling match was added is equally a mystery other than the fact that it's uncomplicated and quick since after all the tent was coming down.
With the Cole Show the Wild West people would thunder into the tent and line up on the front track and tip his or her hat when being introduced by Col. Thomas. Then entered Jimmy Ray who looked about like Mr. Mullins above and a cash prize would be offered to anyone who dared to try to last X number of rounds with him.
Also on the show was a nice looking young guy, seems to me his name was Red Robinson who would always be the volunteer and when asked if he had ever wrestled before would answer no but being an ex Marine and just back from the war he was familiar with ju-jitsu. this piece of information was enthusiastically received by the audience but violently opposed by Jimmy Ray. Being ever the sportsman, Col. Thomas would leave it up to the audience to decide.
By the time the match occurred, Otto Griebling, now in civilian clothes and for a few bucks, served as the referee.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Continuance of Arabic wardrobe

The second man seated on "Lizzie" from the left is Cheerful Gardner and he would often wear a variation of this type wardrobe in the ring as long as he worked elephants.
It's hard to know what show this is since the Corporation swapped elephant herds and trainers the winter of 1924-25 between Hagenbeck-Wallace and John Robinson. My dad worked for Cheerful when they moved the elephants from West Baden to Peru. On the other end of the exchange was Bert Noyes and herd moving over to the Robinson Show.

Cold this morning, I suspected something yesterday when I spotted the little old lady next door, carrying in the brass monkey from the front lawn.

Orton Bros. Circus 1922

Not to be outdone, this is my Aunt Nellie doing her Theda Bara dance.
I'm sure that many an Iowa farm hand had restless nights after seeing this.

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus 1931

But all things pass and now the Wallace Show elephant men (including Arky Scott standing to the right of the girls) are Chinese.
The two male elephants are "Prince" and "Tommy" (one tusk).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

John Robinson Circus early 1920's #1

This is an unusual picture since normally the train was loaded at night. You see lots of pictures of the unloading.
In this case it might have been a matinee only date and therefore an early loading.
You can see the water wagon already spotted and locked in while a pull-up team is bringing another heavily loaded wagon up the runs. The man bent over along side the rear wheel is carrying a chock block which he will keep snubbed up tightly should the rope break.

John Robinson Circus early 1920's #2

"High Steppin' Candy Butchers". Some things never changed, my job with the Cole Show in 1946-47 was to put up a menagerie stand exactly like this one while the other butchers were humpin' lumber in the big top. I was a big kid at 12 and could do it easily, once you got the counters set up with about a half dozen jacks, you were in business. Looks like the same type oil skin table cloth and I built up an identical display out of Cracker Jack boxes. The one thing I didn't like was I had to wipe the counter a lot when the elephants threw dirt on a dusty lot. Sometimes it even got into the bug juice.

I'm sure a lot of people, even showfolks, didn't know that on a railroad show the daily routine for the elephants and baggage horses was just the opposite of everyone else. When the horses had finished loading the train at night they were loaded into the stock cars still wearing their harnesses so they could immediately return to work when unloaded in the morning. Once the show was up they had their own tent where the harnesses were removed, they were washed down and they spent the rest of the day eating and sleeping.
The same applied to the elephants although they didn't have to do the amount of work the baggage stock was required to do, if you went into the menagerie between shows the whole herd would be down and asleep.

John Robinson Circus early 1920's #3

Paul Nelson was the youngest member of the famous Nelson family of acrobats. Here he is riding one of Mme. Bedini's horses.
By the time I knew Paul on the Cole Show one of his sisters, Estralia, had married the owner of the show and another, Hilda, had married the manager. Mr. Terrell referred to Paul as "Little Jesus" and the fighter Jack Dempsey tagged him "Battling Nelson". I'm sure a lot of you remember Paul from the Mills Show.

John Robinson Circus early 1920's #4

Part of the big show band lined up for spec. Looks like they had an Egyptian theme this year, after completing spec and remounting the bandstand they would shed these awful looking things and resume playing the show.
Whoever laid out the lot didn't account for the telephone pole in the middle of the back door.

When the Rudolph Valentino craze swept the nation it not only supplied us with "Hindustan", "Sheik of Araby" and a lot of hot dance steps, it gave an excuse for circuses to use these bath robe type things for animal people. The best feature was that one size fits everybody. I wore one 35 years later when I helped Harry Haag Jr. lead Jack Joyce's camels.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Mary" and Theol Nelson

I don't know if this picture is legit or not. Richard Reynolds would know.

I feel it only fair to warn people that I have at my immediate disposal two Ray Dirgo characatures and a drawing recently received from Paul Gautheil should there be any more disruptions like yesterday.

Indian rhino at the London Zoo/undated

I have never seen an armored rhino, this one sure seems to be a sweetheart.

Cole Show zebra hitch 1943

This is another picture from the Cole Show winter quarters in Louisville, they have the zebras snubbed down pretty good. When we joined the show at the tail end of the 1944 season, my dad was told that after several exciting events this hitch while exiting Spec, took part of the bandstand and several musicians out the back door with it and was forthwith discontinued.
The two ladies are Mickey Freeman and Marjorie Nelson and driving the hitch is Ted White who was Arky's assistant on elephants and was unfortunately killed during the '43 season by one of the Ranch elephants "Joe" while unloading in Prescott, Arizona.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Additions to the Blog

Shannon here again,

It's the weekend and I'm at it again! This whole thing about this Blog was dad sending his emails with pictures. As most of you know, it started slow....a dozen or so, then a couple dozen, then 75 to 100, then it got up to close to 200 people were receiving emails with picture attachements! Then BOOM the ISP's like AOL - Roadrunner - Earthlink and others in an effort to protect their customers from spam and virus started to block ANY and ALL messages with a file attached going to multiple email addresses. To many it looked like spam.

And 7 months ago this web site was born. If your curious on how well the site has done click this WEB SITE STATS. It's doing pretty well.

Now for those that miss the emails I found another solution. On the right hand bar you will see SUBSCRIBE, under that enter your email address. You will recieve a confirmation email and Bingo every day you will receive a email of the days postings.

I also addedd RSS feeds for those who are web savy. You can do some pretty cool things with RSS feeds. If you don't know what they are don't sweat it. But for those that do.... here's the link I also have the link on the sidebar as well.