Saturday, October 13, 2007

Claude "Slivers" Madison #2

Scan000010311, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Slivers and Josephine Madison with the Tom Packs elephants in 1953.
"Alice", "Jean", "Penny", "Tommy" and "Shirley" (this was Shirley's first season.)

"This act was originally trained by Mac MacDonald the winter of 1948-49 at Cap Hyer's place in Sarasota and as with all others, it was the top act of it's day. The original act had an elephant named "Mary" that had one hind leg slightly shorter than the other. Slivers told me that by the time he took the act over, her limp became more obvious so she was donated to the New Orleans Zoo and "Shirley" became her replacement in 1953. A year or so later, during the act "Tommy" (a female) slipped off the tub during the merry go round and broke her hind leg between the ankle and knee. Back on the picket line Slivers placed his foot against her leg, pushed as hard as he could and felt something pop back in, he then had a leather support made which was laced as tight as possible. As soon as the date ended he went to the New Orleans Zoo, dropped her off and retrieved "Mary" and as soon as "Tommy's" leg had healed, he swapped them back again."



Anonymous said...

At the zoo Mary was known as "Mary Twink", she was exhibit mate to "Itema". "Itema" (1918-1960) was another of those "bought with the pennies of school children" animals. She was named after the States Item newspaper.
I have seen old zoo photos of an elephant with something on her leg. No one has ever been able to tell me who she was so I just assumed it was "Mary" due to the timeline. Now I know. Great stuff.

Ruby Rose said...

Hello. Regarding Penny, the wonderful elephant with Circo Hermanos Bells, I rode her in Cabo San Lucas and in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in the Spring of 1987. Somewhere I still have photographs of her. I noticed on this blog that you could not trace her whereabouts or health after 1964 and thought your readers would like to know that as of 1987 Penny was still very much alive and being well cared for by a trainer who seemed quite fond of her! Encountering her and the circus while I was traveling about has always been one of the high points of my life, thus far! The Bells Circus folk were really kind to me and I am sorry that I lost touch with them and with Penny!!! If anyone has any information regarding the circus I would love to hear more about them. Hope my comment helps in keeping track of one of the most amazing creatures I have had the priviledge of "knowing.".
Thank you. Pamela Ruby Russell (Songwriter & Photographer)
PS You can reply at my page on Facebook. Just send me a message from that page. Also you can hear my music, with some of the songs I wrote while in Mexico at:, if you care to listen.
And yes there was a love story, and I guess it was tragic, but life moves on in her mysterious way... that period of my life was magical and Penny made it even more so.
...Also I am trying to find some of my friends from the Bells Circus.. Iris the acrobat was one. I never got to thank her for her kindness to me at the time,