Thursday, November 30, 2006

From John Herriott

Johnny sent me this picture of Bobby Gibbs and "Marie" on Jimmy Hetzer's "Oxydol Show", a combination Circus and Ice Show. Neither of us can put a date on it.
Bobby once told me that the top of the howdah had a simulated ice surface, upon which the skater was supposed to pirouette but rarely managed to pull it off.

I have told the story many times of how we came into possession of "Anna May". D.R. Miller ordered three baby elephants for the Miller-Woodcock elephant act in 1951 and after they arrived at the NY Central Park Zoo, my dad flew up from the show to check them out. Unfortunately, one had a crippled hind leg and he only returned with two, "Fannie" and "Lydia". The act was already booked with Siebrand Shows for the following season so D.R. relucantly let him borrow "Anna May" and the rest is History.
She was eventually replaced in the Kelly-Miller herd by the elephant above, "Marie".

1949-51 Biller Bros. Circus (Original name "Margie")
1952-64 Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus
1965-77 Bobby Gibbs Independent Act
1978 Carson & Barnes #2 Unit
1979 Circus Genoa
1980-81 Carson & Barnes Circus (Died in 1981)
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Cole & Walters Circus #1 (Herb Walters)

Mr. Walters came from a Damatic Show background and here we see him in his "Rube" costume with the Walters & Russell's Circus in Greenleaf, Kansas 9/4/44.
He was a long time friend of Obert Miller with whom he went into partnership to create the Cole & Walters Circus in 1950.
For some reason, in the mid 50's the title was changed to Famous Cole and even later to George W. Cole. It certainly wasn't from creating too much heat, if ever there was a Sunday School Show, this was it.
In 1964 under the Silverlakes ownership, the show's final title became the Clark & Walters Circus.

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Cole & Walters Circus #2

These next four pictures were taken by my father, the winter of 1949-50 at the Walters quarters just after the show had been framed and shows the pole/seat wagon being loaded out for the opening stand. Posted by Picasa

Cole & Walters Circus #3

This Chimp pit show was operated by Mr. Walters brother in law, Ross McKay. "Nature's Nightmare" sounds more like somehing "Zoma" with the John Robinson Show would use. You may recall the self-mutilation chatter we recently endured. Posted by Picasa

Cole & Walters Circus #4

This stake driver/water wagon combination was the duplicate of a Kelly-Miller invention.
The vehicle also carried stakes and side poles. The operator, after driving a stake, would then drag out a side pole, drop it on the ground and then pull ahead to the next spot.
My dad never liked this arrangement, since all the stakes had to be driven before the truck was at liberty to get a load of water for the elephants. Posted by Picasa

Cole & Walters Circus #5

This trailer was partially backed into the tent beside the back door, then the tail gate folded down and became the band stand. Permanently situated inside was a Hammond Organ.
All ring curbs and props were loaded in the front secion. Posted by Picasa

Cole & Walters Circus #6

The Cole & Walters elephants always were kept at the Kelly-Miller winters down the road. Here we see "Ringling Jess", "Gollmar Daisy" and "Wm. P. Hall Mabel" in rehearsal with the KM elephants in the background.
The herd worker is Lee Crawford and the Elephant Empress is Herb's daughter Shirley.
Some years later Shirley would marry a young fellow on the show that did a single trap act billed as "Reckless Rex" Charlie Rex and they would eventually work this act together.
Charlie and Shirley attended mine and Barbara's 1959 wedding in Paris.....................(Texas). Posted by Picasa

Cole & Walters Circus #7

The elephants with the Hugo Shows always worked twice in the show. Earlier in the program you would see three rings of single elephants. Here is Bob and Billie Grubbs practicing "Daisy".
Actually the show carried four elephants, my dad had trained a smaller elephant (Norma) to do a dinner table number. Posted by Picasa

Cole & Waltes Circus #8

Cole & Walters Circus on the lot in Mabank, Texas 4/4/52
Ross McKay's pit show at left at the head of the midway. the side show/menagerie in the center and the push-pole big top in the background at the far right. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

For Bud Copeland


Bud asked about the Hagenbeck-Wallace wagon that Emmett Kelly painted. Here's a 1934 William Koford picture of it (these pix were sold for years by Al Conover though ripped off here from a magazine rendering). It has been called the "Mickey Mouse Tableau." The Corporation had a long habit of dressing up plain wagons with paintings, thereby making them suitable for parade use. Some of these tabs may have gone the whole route from Howe's/Gollmar to Robinson and thence to Hagenbeck-Wallace, though tracing them is difficult. This one still exists at the Circus World Museum, painted with the Arthur Bros charging tiger. Its drop-frame construction and the fact that it also served as the clown bandwagon may mean it was a remodel of the Robinson wagon in your earlier photo. Of course any wagon that survived many years underwent numerous replacements of wood and/or hardware.

Whitey Posted by Picasa

From Circus Whitey


I wonder how many of your readers get The Bandwagon? I got the new issue today with your article which leads off with some comments about and pictures of Walter McClain.

I sent you this photo back in your pre-blog days but you might want to show it to the readers. Apparently this was taken in Nashville the fall of 1938 when the Barnes-Sells-Floto show with RBBB Features played here. In the background is the old Broad Street viaduct and the flats are being unloaded out of sight to the right, in what we used to call the Kayne Avenue Yards. I had initially thought this an early 1940s pic but you pointed out that the heavily-loaded wagon sides suggested Barnes.

Ree-gards, Ole Whitey Posted by Picasa

The Herriott Ladies #1

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The Herriott Ladies #2

Heidi, Christine and Cindy at the Great Milwaukee Parade with the legendary Deacon Blanchfield. Posted by Picasa

The Herriott Ladies #3

Now all grown up. Posted by Picasa

The Herriott Ladies #4

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The Herriott Ladies #5

Elephant Empresses, Mary Ruth and Laura with The Greatest Show on Earth. Posted by Picasa

The Herriott Ladies #6

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The Herriotts

With Clyde Beatty- Cole Bros. Circus. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More from my secret source.

A hidden camera reveals Bello-bortion in rehearsal. Posted by Picasa

From a secret source!

The Red Show, now in rehearsal, will have three different triangles positioned on the floor and since the performance now faces the round end, there will be a "down stage triangle", a "mid stage triangle" and an "upstage triangle".
At the back door there will again be the big screen and a wildly patterned curtain.
The clowns will be characters, like in a play, and the premise is that the circus has lost it's colors.
Bello will then proceed to get the colors back.
At least that's the way it is at the moment.

Evansville last week #1 (From Josip Marcan via Jim Cole)

Carson & Barnes Elephants.

I chatted with Mr. Marcan on the phone last night and he told me about his facility in upstate Florida and the animal shows he sends on the road.
I had forgotten that he once worked elephants, we talked about his years with Tijany in Mexico.Posted by Picasa

Evansville last week #2

Rosaire's Bear Act. Posted by Picasa

Evansville last week #3

Hall's bear act. Posted by Picasa

John Robinson Circus #1

For some reason I don't have many pictures of the Robinson Show. These are undated but appear to have been taken in the 1920's, this one even earlier. I have about 20 in this particular set which I will disperse later.
You may note the wooden flat cars and of particular interest to me is the quarter pole wagon with the ring curbs mounted on the sides. Posted by Picasa

John Robinson Circus #2

This band looks much too complete to be just the Side Show Band. Maybe Chuck Schlarbaum or Eric Beheim could comment.
In any event, they are posing for a picture prior to mounting one of these wagons and leave the lot for parade. Posted by Picasa

John Robinson Circus #3

This appears to be a ticket wagon but is more likely the Commissary. To me, the pictorials and the clown at right, indicate that the clown band will ride this vehicle in the daily street parade. Posted by Picasa