Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Clowns/ Johnny Patterson

Buddy Copeland resembles Mr. Patterson a bit.

On my map of the globe I see a single red dot in the Middle East. Might it not be Usama Ben Laden in response to the portrait on my birthday page?

Clowns/ George Brown

Clowns/ Paul Harmon

Ringling-Barnum Circus/ Paul Harmon and giant.

Clowns/ Emmett Kelly

Ringling-Barnum Circus, San Francisco 9/9/41.

The elephant man with Universoul Circus was recently asked by my friend Cedric Walker that since he was the only white guy with the show, would he mind playing the part of the bus driver in the Rosa Parks Finale. He replied "How do you then expect me to ask $5 to ride the elephant after just having been booed off the stage?".

Monday, February 27, 2006

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1942

I remember D.R. telling my dad the story of their first elephant "Hattie" she was originally a Ringling elephant going back to about 1895 but was now in the Hagenbeck-Wallace herd lying dormant in California in 1939. Obert and D.R. drove a truck out there and Cheerful Gardner showed them around (D.R. said he was terrified) and they settled on "Hattie" who was purchased 1/1/40. She was a sweet old cow, Cheerful could have unloaded anything on them.
In 1941 they bought a second elephant even older, "Mena" who came from the Hagenbeck Zoo in 1890 for the M.L. Clark wagon show. They now had a herd of two until Hattie died 11/3/41 in Cranfield, Okla.
So now we get to 1942 and we see "Mena" and "Tena" pictured above with Obert Miller on the horse. World War II arrived and "Tena's" previous owner, Russell Hall, was drafted into the Army and given 30 days to dispose of his elephant. Mr. Hall was a descendant of Col. George W. "Pop-corn" Hall out of Janesville, Wis.
Andrew Downie first owned "Tena" with his Downie Bros. Circus, framed in 1926.

Unfortunately I have jumped all around with these Kelly-Miller elephants rather than have the years in proper order. Yet I am sure the hard core "elephant nut" will figure it out.

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1943

"Mena", "Tena" and two punks leased from Laura Anderson "Bonnie" and "India". As you can see "Mena" is about on her last legs and in fact died 10/25/43. The following winter the Millers then bought two elephants from Polack Bros. Circus "Mary Ann" and "Mona".

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1948

When the Ringling Show brought over the German elephants in 1947 they decided to sell off a number of old timers the following winter at $2,000 apiece. Obert, Kelly and D.R. made a trip to Sarasota and bought four "Cross Country Babe", "Emma", "Jess" and "Victoria". No sooner had they brought them home to Hugo they sold "Emma" to Louis Goebel and "Babe" to Curley Vernon (United Exposition Shows) for $4,000 each giving them two free elephants. This is what the herd looked like that year with their new Chevrolet blankets.

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1949

This is the 1949 elephant herd "Margaret", "Tena", "Elsie", "Jess", "Daisy", "Vic", "Dixie", "Myrtle", "Jenny", "Kay" and "Barbara". Capt. Jack Lorenzo at left also Robert (Peanut-nose) Schoen and John Carroll. These are the first punks the Millers ever bought and were named after Kelly and D.R.'s mother (Jenny) and daughters (Karen Kay and Barbara Jane) at this point they were still untrained.

Late in the season my father was brought in to train these new elephants with the intention of framing a cat act for for Capt. Jack which he couldn't manage to pull off. Maybe the rank had something to do with it so Col.William Woodcock took over and trained a total of eight baby elephants the following winter "Jenny", "Kay", "Barbara", "Hattie" (named for their first elephant), "Anna May", "Norma", "Hazel", and "Sally". By 1951 the show carried 17 elephants the largest number to travel with a mud show up until that time.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

71 years old today #1

I spent all day yesterday looking for smiley faced pictures for my birthday without much luck. This was taken at home in Hot Springs in 1942.

71 years old today #2

On the day they took the team pictutres you had to have a game face.

71 years old today #3

I had this picture taken in Hugo and the Studio kept it in the display window all winter. I don't know why, it actually looks rather sinister. Jimmy Rossi and I were runing around town in those days and our behavior was above reproach.

71 years old today #4

71 years old today #5

When Smokey Jones and I talked about "Anna May" he would always say "There's an elephant that made a lot of people look good". I must say the same for Paul Gutheil, he took this one.

This time last year George MacPherson pointed out that the Bible gives us 3 score and 10 years so this past year has been a gift.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1946-47

Only "Tena" is kept after the purchase of the Russell Bros. Circus elephants from Art Concello, "Mary Ann" and "Mona" were sold to Floyd King. They now have an impressive looking herd: "Margaret", "Elsie", "Tena", "Daisy", "Dixie" and "Myrtle".

As often mentioned before, I would never have gotten into the elephant business had my dad not needed a truck driver after he got his own elephant act. On rare occasions, like when we were playing a shopping center parking lot, he might let me work the act but the audience, rather than watch me, much more enjoyed my father at the back of the ring yelling "No!, "No!", No!" Can't you do anything right?'.
My big break came when D.R. booked three rings of elephants on the Texas Shrine Dates in the mid-1950's and was short a herd-worker. So I worked the three elephants above at left, in an end ring, "Margaret", "Elsie" and "Tena" or I should say they worked me. Everything started out fine, all three rings finished together but it didn't take long for the wise old elephants to figure out they had a chump and worked slower and slower, the other two rings (worked by Logan and John Carroll) would have to wait longer and longer for me to finish.
When the dates concluded, if there had been one more day, the elephants would have been walking backwards. I had a nice uniform tho.

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1946-47 #2

Dining Department.

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1946-47 #3

Prop trailer with the bull tubs stacked nicely and neatly inside.

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1946-47 #4

At left is Obert Miller's semi-trailer living quarters and at right a pit show.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ringling-Barnum Circus 1943/ Merle Evans #1

"The marvel is not that elephants dance so well but that they dance at all. Evans and trainer Francis Fizzel ponder musical accompaniments for this new step".

The elephant is "Big Modoc" (that Ralph Helfer never had anything to do with) and the elephant man Fizzel is better remembered later as "Streamline" the trainmaster with the Dailey Show. He filled in from the time Walter McLain was accidently killed the previous November until the arrival of Eddie Allen who put together the famous "Changing of the Guard" elephant number for the 1943 season.

By the time this photo- op was taken Mr. Evans had already been band director for 25 years.

Ringling-Barnum Circus 1943/ Merle Evans #2

"Evans,who yields to no man in his passion for desserts, yields here to a woman, acrobat Kay Marlin.Brunette Lois Gran patiently awaits her turn".

Ringling-Barnum Circus/ Merle Evans #3

"Now it can be told: Circus horses don't keep time to the music; the band keeps time to them. Evans previewing Bobby Steele's latest equestrienne routine".

Ringling-Barnum Circus 1943/ Merle Evans #4

"A circus bandmaster deals with such interesting people as aerialist Lee Wallenda, shown here discussing a drum roll for her act with Evans and Frankie Holt".

Ringling-Barnum Circus 1943/Merle Evans #5

"Mrs. Evans, a former ballet dancer whom he married in 1926, goes on the road with Merle and so does Mr. Boots, their Pekingese. Scene: a water-tank stop".

The heir to the throne!

I have a set of Merle Evans 1943 pictures scanned and ready to go but for some reason after Shannon made last nights adjustment this is all I can get and pretty well expresses my sentiment. I'll see if I can get ahold of him.

While on this subject, Baby Kay will be 8 months old Monday and my wife advises me that she is 3/4 housebroke. She further states that to poop in the pot is easy but the other takes a bit longer.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

To Richard R.

Are these the pongurs?

Now that all three Ken & Nicole units are on the road, I have had several people tell me that the
Gold Unit (Hometown) is by far the best of the three. Despite one mentioning that the teeter-board act had more mecnanics than a Ford Dealership.

Bud Hawkins Circus 1936

Obert Miller's Dog and Pony Revue.

This same season me and my family were with the Joe B. Webb Circus which featured a young D.R. Miller walking the clothesline.

Kelly-Miller Circus 1945 #1

Nice shot of the midway. Obert Miller holding a zebra, Kelly Miller with a llama and no idea who the rest might be. D.R. was away in the Army.
The three elephants were "Tena", "Mary Ann" and "Mona". Mary Ann had been originally imported by William Randolph Hearst for his estate in San Simeon, CA in the 1930's. I have wondered if she was named for Marion Davies but the name later became altered.

Kelly-Miller Cicus 1944 #2

This might be the Herriott family car and trailer in the background, Johnny told me that he slept in the back seat of the car.
Pictured fro left are: Betty Sweet, Jean Herriott, Obert Miller, Inez Sweet, Isla Miller and Evalina Rossi.

Kelly-Miller Circus 1944 #3

I can't tell if this is Johnny Herriott or his dad Milton practicing a liberty horse in the back yard.

Kelly-Miller Circus1944 #4

Evalina Rossi, Gus Kenerva and Inez Sweet in front of a bull truck.
You will notice the steps at right which I always called, living in "semi-retirement" or sleeping in the front of the bull truck. Barbara, Ben and I lived in such quarters the first year or so we were married and my folks put in a life time in such arrangements. Actually something like this would far exceed the lower berth provided on the Cole Show.
In fact, living in the "crummy" was occasionally much less of a problem than the bus we still own which can be a scientifically designed pain in the ass.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Benson Animal Farm/Zeke Walsh

Rebecca, I only knew Zeke when she was married to Baudy. A hard worker, she drove the semi-truck while Robert went ahead in his car. On the winter dates after driving all night, she would arrive at the building thoroughly bedraggled as we all were and start right in unloading the cat cages. Robert would show up later in the day from the hotel to check things out.

Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus 1943

I have been asked to come up with some early Kelly-Miller pictures.
Man at left is Whitey Thorn but I'm not sure if the stick is aimed at "Tena" or the clown.

DeMille movie #1

In retrospect this movie doesn't hold up well at all. Terribly overacted, today it more resembles a poor man's version of "Desperate Housewives" I marvel at how it ever won the Oscar for Best Movie. I especially like the part where "Holly" does an ankle drop (with a mechanic) and the press is immediately notified.
On the other hand the footage of the Ringling performance, setting up the show and moving from town to town is wonderful and improves with age.

DeMille movie #2

DeMille movie #3

DeMille movie #4

DeMille movie #5

This is the movie's blow off with the rag-taggle parade. Oddly enough there were more former Ringling performers in this shot than present, even Capt. Heyer and "Starless Night" were recruited.

In 1957 when I was with the show, we walked about a dozen elephants down town from the
winter quarters for an annual parade with a Latin name, something like the Gasparilla Parade they do up here in Tampa. Maybe they still do it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

To Rebecca

This is my favorite Pinito Del Oro.
This is the lady that actually did the head balancing trapeze that "Holly" was patterened after.

To Dick Flint

Most elephant men ride which ever way is most comfortable but if the animal ridden has a big head and an easy gait (like Anna May) you can sit forward like a rocking chair.
When you worked a team like the men shown above, you had to sit facing the off-lead elephant on your right. This enabled you to reach over and steer both elephants to the right or left plus you can easily look back to see if the vehicle in tow is clearing the corners.

Ringling-Barnum 1953/ Herd on the way to the lot

Arky Scott riding Walter McLain's former horse "Harold".
Benny White riding "Topsy" in front. The seven punks are "Tex", "Padmuh", "Tara", "Yamina", "Rani", Sita" and "Rajee" all named by Louie Reed.
Immediately behind them is the young African "Emily".

These seven punks were trained the previous summer by Louie Reed and assisted by Smoney Jones in Sarasota while the show was on the road. During this process the little elephants will invariably begin to rely on their trainer for security and any immediate change can cause problems. I think that even the mighty Ken & Nicole Show has finally arrived at that conclusion.
When the show arrived in Sarasota, Arky, for some reason immediately excluded Mr. Reed and Smokey and the die was cast. By the time the picture above was taken the act "the 7 wonders" was pretty much in shambles.
As the show traveled West that season they showed LaCrosse, WI on Aug 6 and by chance we were appearing with our family elephant act in front of the grandstand at the local Fair. I never got a chance to see their performance because our show times conflicted but I did watch the herd unload and march to the lot. I hung around long enough to catch the Side Show before I left.
When I got back to the Fairgrounds I was surprised to see my dad talking with Noylles Burkhardt, Arky and his assistant Henry Demuth. I later learned that Mr. Concello had authorized them to make my dad an offer to come on the show and his only job would be to straighten out the little elephants for Arky. My dad then explained that he was part owner in our elephant act, this being made possible by D.R. Miller and the deal was etched in stone however to thank Mr. Concello for the offer.
I personally thought that a dreadful error had been made, since at 18, I thought a closer examination of those show girls might well be in order.

The picture below shows my father visiting Arky the next year in Chicago but by then Hugo Schmitt had been offered the same job and had accepted, after 4 years with the Mills Show he was back in the fold.

Ringling-Barnum 1954/ Soldiers Field

Standing: George Piercy, Bill Woodcock Sr., Tom Parkinson and Arky Scott.
Kneeling: Ken Whipple.

Ringling-Barnum 1950/ Arky Scott and "Ruth"

"Big Ruth rears up for Arky Scott. All together she has a repertoire of twenty-eight tricks which is just about as high as any circus elephant can go. She can even do a one-foot stand."

This caption is incorrect, "Kernaudi" from Hugo Schmitt's former act did the one-foot stand, the first in America, but by this time the trick was lost.

Ringling-Barnum 1950/ Jeanne Sleeter and "Ruth"

"Jeanne Sleeter demonstates how much confidence she has in the old elephant's discretion"

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dailey Bros. Circus late 1940's #1

Ben and Norma Davenport.

Dailey Bros. Circus late 1940's #2

Norma Davenport in an H.A. Atwell photograph.

Dailey Bros. Circus late 1940's #3

These of course, are the lovely ladies of the chorus, Donna Pyle, Tony Martin and Barbara Ray.
All three Sarasota Showfolks members, I saw Donna last Wednesday at the club, Tony was Arky Scott's widow and after his death returned to Sarasota where she was a club regular and even Barbara like Greta Garbo will have an occasional sighting there.

Dailey Bros. Circus late 1940's #4

This is the only picture I ever saw of the lion trainer walking in spec (Joe Horvath) and at right is Barbara riding "Lucy". This is well before I taught her how to style properly.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mark Anthony and "Hotch"

Bud, you are right I always found Mark to be a very gentle man.
My favorite of his carvings was the buzzard that he would place either on his derby or his shoulder.
The buzzard had a spring in it's neck so it would always nod it's head slowly as Mark moved and
it's eyes were half closed and it wore a slight smile which to me reflected Mark's personality to a "T".

Robert Baudy/ The Maurice Chevalier of the steel arena

Jules Jacot/ "King of the Beasts"

"Daring" Dick Clemens and "Patsy"