Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ringling Park 1977

We had just gotten word that we were going on the Blue Show the following season. Out of the blue some press people showed up at the Park to take some pictures for next year's program.
Barbara was away somewhere and Ben had just finished wetting down the kids with a water hose and this was the result.
Fortunately it never saw the light of day.

Blue Show 1978 wardrobe #1

Shannon, Dalilah and Shane ready for Opening. I might add that these are Capezio boots.
One day I was driving somewhere with these three in the back seat when a scuffle broke out between the boys. Dalilah yelled "Watch it! Watch it! I'm quite tiny you know!".

Blue Show 1978 wardrobe #2

Charly Barnum with the boys in their Spec wardrobe. The kids had different costumes for Opening, Spec and Menage. They also returned for Finale but still wearing Menage wardrobe.

Blue Show 1978 wardrobe #3

This picture was taken outside at night with the Africans and the boys lined up for Spec. As you can see this blanket was adorned with sea shells and conches. Prince Paul with the whip keeping everything in order.

Blue Show 1978 wardrobe #4

Here we are lined up for Opening. This was my wardrobe for both Opening and the leopard/elephant act. Was I quite fetching or what? Ben, Ted and Gary in the background.
We closed the Opening Pageant with a 19 elephant long mount with the entire cast and company in the rings and as we exited the band played Sousa's "Gladiator". Wow!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Video Clips

Here are two video clips - Just click on the icon to view them. If you have Boradband the file should play after a few seconds. For those on dial-up the files are about 7MB. I recommend you RIGHT CLICK on the icon and choose SAVE AS and save them to your PC 1st.

Both are from the 1978 Ringling Blue Unit. The main elephant number and the AnnaMay Act with Ben & Barbara. Karen should also enjoy this, it shows her working the leopard act as well.

Hope springs eternal!

I just received a call from a close friend who saw the Shrinking Show last night in Birmingham and I am still sore from laughing. He said that when he first observed the layout it reminded him of the time Tarzan Zerbini's prop truck got stolen and they had to work on an empty floor for a few days.
My opinion was that with a 3 ring format there is a constant reminder that the end rings are never used and he replied "When you see a crucifix on a Catholic Church you don't have to see Christ on it to know what it represents. Even an empty ring would offer hope that maybe one day a pretty girl in pink tights might appear and ride a horse around it.
He added that the show opened on an upbeat note but the endless and pointless strong man act was the dagger in the heart of the show from which it never recovered.

Which brought to mind that many years ago my dad had our elephants with Jack Moore's Tex Carson Circus and he had a strong man that they drove a car over and the added benefit was that the banner man would make a deal with a local automobile dealership in each town that for a fee they could provide the car.
Half way thru the season the strong man blew but rather than lose the income they would use a big top canvasman or a prop guy instead and I don't recall any fatalities.

Circus kids #1/ St. Louis Police Circus 1961

I must have misled everyone about last night's banquet. The Windjammers are not circus people but musicians who enjoy playing circus music and come down every winter record music, present a concert at the Ringling Museum and conclude today by playing for Sailor Circus at the Sarasota High School. The pre show band is huge and will play in the center ring and then be reduced down to circus size for the performance.
John Herriott will be the Ringmaster at today's circus and was therefore invited to sit at the speakers table. I was similarly invited since I contributed photos from my web site of several old time Band Masters for their Windjammers magazine. Howard Tibbals was keynote speaker.
The joint was jumpin', must have been in excess of 300 musicians and families, after the dinner and speeches, we chatted with Don and Jan Covington of whom I asked if their return to Big Apple was a "come home, all is forgiven" scenario but he said not.
The evening concluded with members forming a Glen Miller type band for dancing but we left rather early since the Colonel and my tastes lean more toward Led Zeppilin. When I dropped off Johnny at home, I found Mary Ruth, Cindy and Roy Wells watching old videos and to my amazement saw the Ringling Park immediately after we left for the Blue Show. First footage I had ever seen of the polar bear act when it was there, I had no idea they did a web number (Bud, do you remember Jenny Sue?) the Herriotts working the liberty act, Axel' elephants. The train was gone and replaced by specs floats from the touring shows. Christ what has happened to the business? That show was so much better than the crap they carry around the country today.
By the way Karen, when I left for the banquet, Barbara and Baby Kay had their arms around each other watching a scary movie on TV and dressed in granny gowns. And if you saw a picture of me today you would immediately call Mt. Olivet Cemetary in Oklahoma and advise them to start mowing around the elephant tomb stone.

Show kids #2/ Ringling Park 1975

How time flies, Jim A. who contributes to this site, has retired from the St. Louis Zoo, moved to Davenport, Fl. and now works at Disney World. In fact he is hosting Shannon and his two boys today for a trip around the park.

Show kids #3/ Blue Show 1978

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Circus Music #1

This is a big weekend for the Windjammers, they play a concert at the Ringling Museum this afternoon, their Banquet is tonight and tomorrow they close out by playing for the Sailor Circus performance.
So in their honor, a picture of the most famous circus band leader of all time, Merle Evans.

Circus Music #2

Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, 1912 in Madison Sq. Garden, conducted by Ned Brill. Do I count 35 musicians in this band?
I wouldn't mind hearing them play "The Storming of El Caney".

Circus Music #3

Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Circus Concet Band prepared for the pre-show concert in Madison Sq. Garden 1926.

Circus Music #4

I wish I could make my grand entry to the Banquet driving this little beauty with someone in the back playing "Gentry's Triumphal". Professor Schlarbaum would certainly sit up and take notice.

By the way, as you all probably know, Don Covington is now back with Big Apple and in fact will be seated at our table tonight. Will be good to get all the latest news from from my old Alma Mater.
Good Morning Cheryl.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Back to the drawing board

Upon further review Blog V 3.0 has been put on ice. For those with larger monitor resolutions it looks great. But looking back at my stats, about 1/3 of the blogging audience still use 800x600. And when I tested the site I saw what people were talking about.

I wanted a 3 column format, but none will look good on such a low resolution. So I'm back to the drawing board. But do not fret, I have something else in mind. But to help out. I created a TEST SITE to try things on.

So I apologize about the inconvenience. When I have the replacement set I will then have people look at the test site to see if the format works on all resolutions and for different browsers.

Pete Taylor 1914

Earlier today John Herriott and I were discussing Fred Dahlinger's excellent article in the current Bandwagon magazine which mentions the Jones Bros. & Wilson Circus.
John said that his father ran away from home and joined this show briefly in 1914 and described what a sensation the lion act was, presented by Pete Taylor, always dressed in white, lots of action and plenty of excitement.
It is generally known that this is the man Clyde Beatty fashioned himself after.

Problems with new format

I received an eMail stating that on this new format the pictures have been reduced to the size of postage stamps. Another party lost the Site completely.
I will get my Technician right on it when he becomes available but it would help if I could tell him how many people this effected.

Showman's Rest

Well, yesterday started out OK, I was studying Shannon's Global Map at left and wondering if some guy in Indo China was saying "What in the Hell is a shrinking show" when everything suddenly fell apart.
After I managed to get the mud stories sent off the Computer went south to a point where I couldn't even receive an eMail. Out of frustration I turned the machine off and stomped around the house for a while then finally decided it was time they shipped me off to Oklahoma (as pictured above).
But eventually my usual good humor returned, I went off to get a hair cut and after returning I even practiced a few dance steps for tomorrow night's banquet in case the band should play music for a "Tango" or better yet the "Bunny Hug".
Eventually Shannon worked well into the night, re-did everything and swore by the Gods that stabilility had been restored. He even went so far as to send out the picture below as a test.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Name this Bunch

Name this bunch
Circus World Museum
Baraboo, WI


This is "Samson" of whom you spoke, when he was with the W.W. Cole Circus and at left is his handler George Conklin.
James A. Bailey withdrew from the Barnum Show after the death of "Jumbo" and Cole closed his show and then joined Hutchinson and Cooper to run the Barnum & London Show in Bailey's absence. He brought along Conklin and this big elephant which was then left in Bridgeport for obvious reasons and he perished there in the November fire you mention.
As you say, four elephants were lost "Samson", "Alice", "Grace" and "Toug-Toulog (White Elephant)" however the name "Jess" is new to me. Bowser didn't mention one in his lists prior to the fire but a "Jess" does appear afterward and remained until being sold to the Hagenbeck Zoo from Ringling-Barnum in 1921.
Of course all this is moot since the "Jess" Parkhurst received along with "Queen" was a 4-Paw elephant. As my dad used to say "What I present is not the Law as handed down by God unto Moses" but it makes for interesting chit-chat.
The only thing I would take issue with is the claim that Barnum & London had 34 elephants. I believe the average herd was around 18. Adam Forepaugh was the guy with lots of elephants.

Sells-Floto in the mud #1

This is the Sells-Floto Circus in the early 1930's when my dad with it and shows the horses struggling in the Opelousas, Louisiana gumbo.
To make matters even worse, the table tops and seat planks tied onto the side of the wagon tell us that this is the cook house and usually one of the first things on the lot. So they have a long day ahead of them.
Traditionally, circuses that moved each day were quite resourceful at getting the job done somehow, even resorting to carrying in rigging and seats from the street by hand and showing outdoors. Only as a last resort would the date be lost.

Sells-Floto in the mud #2

I always thought that the sense of urgency in not missing a performance was due to the "show must go on" syndrome but D.R. explained it rather simply. The Kelly-Miller Show was on the road X number of days making money and X number in Winter Quarters spending it.
When the show went on the road each year, added to it's daily operating expense was the amount estimated to maintain the show the following winter. This figure was pro- rated into each days expenses and for each day lost the "nut" for the remainder of the season would increase accordingly.
He couldn't help adding that at the time we were with the show in the early 1950's, each year's total expenses had been met by the 4th of July.

Sells-Floto in the mud #3

Elephants are not as strong as horses, pound for pound, and lack the footing but when a group of 10,000 pounder's are placed in harness, the object will move or break.
As a last resort, these elephants would help the horses by pushing the wagon but this must be done with caution since they can do more damage than good and if not positioned correctly will smash in the rear door instead.
More importantly the elephant might be exposed to sharp objects or as in this case, the pins in the overhead poles, things the responsible elephant man had to be be aware of.
Elephants that did regular jobs on the lot like spotting cages in the menagerie wore a "push pad" that fit on it's face for protection.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blog V3 has arrived

Shannon here.....

Couldn't help myself. So I finally updated the site. There are now columns on both sides. The map thing on the left is pretty cool. It will take about 24hours before it starts but it will show on a map where the visitors of this site are from. I'm looking forward to some feedback.

I just got tired of the plain white background.

This has been tested on Internet Explorer(85%) and Firefox(5%) of the viewers. Those who use Macs and/or Netscape and Safari let me know how it looks. The center section where the posts are should shrink and expand to the size of the users screen. So it should look ok across the board.

To Barry the Lighting Guy

I don't understand your statement "strange denizens of Clown Alley Past".
They seemed perfectly normal to me.


NO SIR!.......BLOG?.......WHAT BLOG?

Bill Ballentine drawing #1

I didn't bisect these pictures, they were on opposite pages in the magazine but this makes them more viewable. I'm sure that when this first came out all the people had fun recognizing themselves.

In unrelated matters John Herriott and myself (The Sunshine Boys) have been invited to attend the Windjammers Banquet next Saturday where the ladies will experience our skills on the dance floor and the gentlemen receive the benefit of wise counsel.

And finally, to my disappointment, Baby Kay is begining to utter "Mum-mum-mum" so we know what her first words will be and after all the time I have wasted practicing "Bullshit".

Bill Ballentine drawing #2

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Clyde and Harriett Beatty

For some reason I didn't attend last Saturday's ceremony at St. Armand's "Ring of Fame" but I have heard from several parties that the person who spoke on behalf of Charly Baumann couldn't resist the temptation to take a few cheap shots at Clyde Beatty which I resent mightily.
Mr. Beatty was an American Icon and in his day was the personality that represented the circus to the public and he carried that mantle with dignity and class.
His fame was such that his name was included in circus titles forty years after his death.
I would be interested in the credentials and longivity of todays detractors. Nuf Ced.

Adele Nelson Elephants #1

Adele Nelson with "Myrtle", "Tillie" and "Jennie". Miss Nelson from the celebrated Nelson Family of acrobats was married to noted elephant trainer Louis Reed whom she met when he was in charge of the herd with Sells-Floto. Their combined talents produced one of the top acts of the day, in fact this picture was taken shortly after their return from England where they had been featured with the Bertram W. Mills Circus in 1929-30.

Adele Nelson Elephants #2

This is a unique version of the elephant teeter-board. "Myrtle" would mount the board with all four feet then walk ahead slowly past the fulcrum until it was tipped forward. Miss Nelson would then step on the board facing the elephant and on cue, "Myrtle" would take one big step backwards with the above results.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus 1915/ The Derrick brothers

After viewing this picture I am convinced I should apply for the position of Talent Coordinator for the Ken & Nicole Company.
Duplicating this act would be easy since they already have the elephants and Russians. The only expense would be in building a ramp and with the added bonus that with a little practice and planning the act could be drug out to maybe15 or even 20 minutes.

For Ed

Anonymous Bros. Circus

I heard an interesting rumor this morning that the "Incredible Shrinking Show" having received bad reviews, is in the process of being modified. I find this hard to believe, in the first place they are past the point of no return and in the second, one of the perks of being extremely wealthy is never having to admit to making mistakes.
I may be forced into changing the title of this show to "Anonymous Bros." since all discriptions are identical "Well, they have these Cossacks, and these Chinese, and a lady who does trapeze using a mechanic, and a Russian lady with cats and dogs, and they back a car over a guy, etc." the only people there I would have remote knowledge of would be Scott O'Donnell, Troy Metzler and Sonny Ridley.
Maybe "Generic Bros." would be a better title.

Ringling Park Visitors 1977/#1

Harold Ronk, Trevor Bale, (unknown), Barbara, Arnold Maley, George (Red Cap) Thompson and Bob Harrison.
No idea who the scruffy little urchin is.

Ringling Park visitors 1977/#2

Richard Barstow and Bob Dover.

Ringling Show 1978

Karen Glenn with Barbara and Ben in the background.
You see kiddies once upon a time we had these round areas where three acts could work at the same time. I'm not kidding.

Hoxie Bros. Circus

Larry King, who "hates this Ringling crap" must be pulling his hair by now.
I'll see if I can square the beef with this.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mount Olivet Cemetary/Hugo, Oklahoma

The Lone Ranger #2

This is Lee Powell and my father at the site of Jumbo's death in St. Thomas, Ont. where he was struck by a locomotive in 1885 while the heard was being loaded. They were good friends and I have a book of Shakespeare's works inscribed "To Bill Woodcock A-1 Elephant Trainer. Your friend Lee Powell". A discription I later placed on his tombstone.
With entry into World War II Mr. Powell immediately joined the Marines and lost his life in combat in the Pacific. He was later exhumed and reburied at the Punch Bowl in Hawaii.

In response to elim's question

More painted elephants #1/"Jupiter's Darling" on the back lot

More painted elephants #2/KNBC-TV in Los Angeles

This is "Topsy" leased from Jungleland for this promotional gimmick in 1969.
She, along with "Frieda", "Jewel" and "Jackie" were sold to Beatty-Cole the following winter where she remained 1970 thru 75.
Also included in that herd was an elephant called "Ina" that went to Tommy Hanneford.

More painted elephants #3/Processional elephants in "INNNN-JA"

More painted elephants #4/Dorothy Kelly

Wallace Bros. Circus/The Lone Ranger (Lee Powell)

Here the Lone Ranger looks remarkably chipper considering that for some unknown reason, kids pound on his trailer early in the morning while he is trying to sleep.

Wallace Bros. Circus 1937/"Buckles"

Apropos to the statement made by Rebecca beneath yesterday's pictue of my mother, I'm sure everyone in the world is aware that I got the nick name "Buckles" from wearing a harness so I wouldn't wander off the lot.
To the casual observer I am reading the NY Times when in actuality I am devising a means of escape. My favorite ruse was to ask a town kid to untie me and I would show him which trailer the Lone Ranger lived in.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Circus Quiz!

OK, you think you're so smart, how many of these people can you identify?

My pride and joy!

One of the first things I did when I entered retirement was to have this gateway put up. Barbara sketched the elephants for the metal workers and as you can see I had two of our old bull tubs set in concrete on each side with lamp posts mounted.

I almost forgot to mention that Baby Kay is almost 7 months old now and pooped in the pot for the first time two days ago. At first I thought Barbara was going to take it around the neighborhood to show everybody but I finally talked her out of it.

Big Apple Rehearsals/Walden,NY

Thank Goodness for Paul Gutheil, I had forgotten all aout this little stunt we did with "Ned".

"Rosie O'Grady's" Epilogue

Is this Cindy Mason? I've misplaced all my old dance cards.

By the way, I may have been mistaken on the dates of my CFA invitation. On closer inspection it appears to be May of 2007, who would have thought people our age would plan that far ahead. No problem tho, I'll be right here just the same.

Capt. William Heyer #2

Capt. Heyer is best remembered with his incomparable dressage horse "Starless Night".

King Bros. Circus 1954/ Milton Herriott, Dorothy Herbert and John Herriott

This is the year John and I first met, he and Mary Ruth had just been married at the Shrine Circus in Houston, so we have been close friends for over half a century.
Over the years he has become the official spokesperson for the Sarasota circus people, so much so, that in my final years I grow more concerned about his wellfare than mine because if anything happened to John, who would speak at my funeral?

Capt. William Heyer