Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Davis (From Karin L. Stewart)

Happy%20Davis%20001, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Happy Davis passed away December 29,2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was born Daryl Riviolo Davis January 28,1931 in Sparks, Nevada. He was surrounded by his son Harrison Stewart Davis, daughter-in-law, Ashley M. Davis when he passed. He is also survived by his grandson, Kodey Layne Davis.

Happy worked in the circus from the age of 9 until he was 69. He was well known for his trampoline and comedy car acts but did many other acts over the course of his lengthy career.

Funeral services are pending. Condolences notes can be sent to Karin L. Stewart on Face Book and will be forwarded to his son.

Happy Davis #2

Happy%20Davis%20009, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Happy Davis #3

Happy%20Davis%20007, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Roger Smith #1

Legendary teamster Jake Posey is seated here, surrounded by fan Charles Puck at left, and Tony and Arky Scott, and their sons.

Of Posey, Fred Bradna, whom I selectively quote out of sequence, wrote in his tome THE BIG TOP, for his list of "A Circus Hall of Fame"--The Greatest Teamster--Jake Posey, a taciturn Indiana hostler, who drove James A. Bailey's celebrated forty-horse hitch through five years of European barnstorming. He knew every horse by name, and though he drove the twenty-eight ton ensemble more than ten-thousand miles...every foot of it strange to him...he never had a wreck. ...So when [Bailey] conceived his thirty-six-foot-long bandwagon, an ornate swan boat on wheels so elaborately decorated with wood carving that an artist worked two years executing the designs, Posey was the only circus teamster capable of handling the forty matched bay Percherons which pulled it. The float, called 'The Two Hemispheres,' depicted highlights of European and American history, was painted a blue green called 'seafoam blue,' and mounted a band of sixteen men."

Bradna further recalled a runaway down Beacon Hill, in Boston, by a 24-horse hitch, brought under control by Posey, who "alone remained calm. His foot firm on the brake, his strong hands demanding obedience to the rein, his voice clucking quietly, his eyes on the [dreaded] Tremont Street corner, he slowed to a trot, took the sidewalk turn exactly right, then reined up, giving the rest of the line time to catch up. When I drove by to congratulate him, Posey was examining the sprained wrists of both his hands. 'Gave 'em quite a show today, didn't we?' he said, and clucked his teams again into their stately walk. A thrill such as this is of the very essence of the circus."

So it was with the record-book career of Dick Sparrow, the true heir to the throne of Jake Posey. The Great Teams on the Big Lot are in the best of hands.

Roger Smith

From Roger Smith #2

As noted before in these postings, I draw from the words of Bill Johnston, who remembered that there were very few like Clyde Beatty and Terrell Jacobs in attaining the big time, but many like this man, earning a living in the steel arena, while like most of us, getting relatively little renown. Fred D. Pfening, Jr., in his superb article, "Masters of the Steel Arena", in the May-June 1972 issue of BANDWAGON, gave Klauder due notice. In the December 28 entries herein for Seils-Sterling, we see that in their own rosters, Klauder's given name is spelled both Erwin and Irvin. In his caption for this shot, Pfening splits the difference, listing him as Irwin. It's good to see a colleague of the Depression Era, generally unheralded, have his moment in this circus historical journal.

Roger Smith

From Cousin Toots

Scan00000010097, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.



"Sorry to hear that Robert isn't doing well. I havn't seen him in a long while.
This is the last picture I have showing Robert with Aunt Nellie and his
mother Aunt Grace at right, a long time ago."

The Ortons #1

Scan00000010098, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

In an effort to clarify things a bit, we see "Cousin Toots" (Berneta Ruth Orton) at age 10, and astride the horse is Helen Louise Orton age 6 mos.
and Ann Jean Orton at age 6.
As things turned out they lived in Oklahoma City and we stayed in touch moreso than the rest of the family.

The Ortons #2

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This is my Uncle Bayard, father of the girls in the picture above.
My mother loved to add a little color to her pictures and was pretty
good at it.

The Ortons #3

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The lady in the white flowered dress is my mother and to her left
in the black dress is her sister Nellie and in the white dress Grace.

The Ortons #4

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My Grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Orton (nee Merical).
My mother was named after her and being the final child was called
"baby" or "Babe" the rest of her life.

The Ortons #5

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The Ortons #6

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Miles Orton the best known of the family buried in Tallahasse, Florida.
Being my grandfather's brother would make him my Grand-uncle?

The Ortons #7

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This show was taken out three years after Miles Orton's death by his sons Norman and Myron Orton in 1906.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

From Grace Swank-Davis #1

IMG_0009, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Buckles, I wanted to send these pictures that Aunt Peggy's (MacDonald) sister Alice sent to Aunt Billie (Schuller). I hope you can use them. Alice found them in Peggy truck trailer a while back. We don't have any info on them just what Alice wrote in the e-mail. I wanted you and everyone to see the elephant on the chair. Isn't it great?!

Grace Swank-Davis

From Grace Swank-Davis #2

IMG_0008, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Sure wish I could identify this one. Looks like Mack second from left.
The herd doesn't match up with any of the shows he trouped with that I'm aware of.

From Grace Swank-Davis #3

IMG_0002, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

This appears to be the same person as in the previous picture.
My first thought was the lady in all the early CFA Conventions pictures in White Tops. Karl Kay Knecht's wife?

From Grace Swank-Davis #4

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From Grace Swank-Davis #5

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Very cleverly done, maybe some of Roland Butler's work.
The head looks like "Josky" transposed onto an elephant unloading from a railroad car.
Just a guess.

From Grace Swank-Davis #6

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From Grace Swank-Davis #7

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From Grace Swank-Davis #8

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From Grace Swank-Davis #9

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Mac told me that he was in the Navy during WW1 and served as a radio operator on a ship. In World War 2 he was in the Army and was stationed in Hawaii as a rifle instructor.
When he was showing me and Barbara how to work the Polack elephants in 1965 at his place in San Antonio he took joy in showing me his gun collection which was quite valuable.
This picture must have been staged by Scaperlanda since the target area was a good distance out back where he had piled a big mound of dirt.
Armed with a rifle, pen and paper, he would shoot one round then approach the target, measure the bullet hole and then write something down. Shooting three rounds was a busy afternoon.
One day Mac insisted that me and Barbara accompany him his rifle range and once there insisted that we all fire this peculiar looking rifle. He fired first and hit just outside the bulls eye, I was next and was further out then Mac insisted that Barbara fire, she reluctantly obeyed and firing immediately hit center bull.
Not saying a word Mac took his rifle, picked up his gear and walked away, leaving us standing there.
Fourteen years later we were playing San Antone with the Blue Show and I took a car load of elephant guys out to his place to pay homage and invite him and Peggy to the show. Despite all my whining and begging he absolutely refused to go.
I don't think he ever quite got over the rifle incident.

From Buckles

Scan00000010096, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

I'm sure you have one of these.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ringling Barnum HAVANA (1949)

From Chris Berry

61 years ago this week - this poster was hanging in a window in Havana Cuba - promoting "El Mas Grande Espectaculo Sobre La Tierra" (roughly translated as "The Greatest Show on Earth"). While this particular poster certainly isn't the most artistic, it is perhaps one of the scarcest Ringling-Barnum posters from the post World War II era as very few for that one month engagement are known to have survived.

The 1950 Route Book makes note of the engagement with this short article.

The Big Show Goes to Cuba
By Roland Butler
On Thursday night, December 8, 1949, the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus exhibited in Cuba for the first time when it opened a 32-day indoor engagement at the government-owned Sports Palace in Havana. Playing through the holidays to capacity crowds and turning thousands away during the final week, the circus closed in a blaze of glory Sunday night, January 8, 1950, and chalked up a smashing success. The Ringling management gave Cuba a show that made its eyes pop. All of the circus' foremost acts and features that could be crammed and jammed into the one-ring arena of the Palace were taken to Havana. The show's personnel was flown to the island, while a train loaded with animals and equipment was transported by boat.

Havana went wild over the performances and gave The Greatest Show on Earth the warmest reception it ever accorded a visiting amusement organization. And, as Havana took to its first major circus, so did the Ringling troupers take to the gay "Paris of the Caribbean." Touring the metropolis between shows, and after, they particularly enjoyed the colorful city's freedom from restraint and its exciting diversions for all types and tastes. Still circus hungry at the close of the run, the Cuban capital's press and public implored the Big Show to hurry back and make the Havana engagement an annual event. This winter the Ringling Circus will again thrill its admirers across the keys. The run at the Sports Palace will begin December 8, the same opening date as in '49.

From Buckles

Scan00000010096, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

After fueling up my wife's car and going inside I noticed a box of these Dickie Garden coupons.
At first I didn't know if "Fully Charged" was the name of the show or the price of fuel ($3.01 per gallon).

"The man of a thousand scars!"

Buckles04, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

From Dave Price

From Don Covington

Scan00000010097, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Elmer R. "Dick" Sparrow, 1929-2010

Zearing farmer hitched up 40-horse team


Des Moines Register

December 26, 210

Elmer R. "Dick" Sparrow, a Zearing farmer who in the 1970s revived the spectacle of driving a team of 40 horses, died Thursday. His family said the cause of death was leukemia. He was 81.

Sparrow rose to national fame in 1972 when he hitched and drove 40 Belgian draft horses in the Fourth of July Schlitz Circus Parade in Milwaukee. More than a million people watched Sparrow's feat of strength and manual dexterity in Milwaukee, with more watching on television.

A repeat performance in Zearing on Labor Day that year - with Gov. Robert Ray beside Sparrow in the driver's seat - drew 50,000 to the Story County town of about 500.

"The first time I took the lines in my hands I never felt anything so awesome in my life," Sparrow told the Chicago Tribune in 1972. "It's a little like holding back a locomotive under a full head of steam with me at the throttle."

Sparrow was born and raised on a Zearing farm where horses had been raised since 1872.
One of three children, he learned how to lead horses through farm gates at age 3 and by age 4 could ride the farm's Percherons by himself.

After graduating from Zearing High School, Sparrow attended Iowa State College, majoring in farm operations. He married Joy Beggs, an Illinois farm girl, in 1950, and they had two sons and three daughters.

The Sparrows began raising the 2,000-pound chestnut brown Belgian draft horses in the late 1950s. They offered hayrack rides and bobsled tours to Iowa State students in the 1960s and '70s.
In 1972, Schlitz Brewing Co. asked Sparrow to bring a six- or eight-horse hitch to Milwaukee. Sparrow decided to go bigger and took a 12-horse hitch.

Sparrow saw photographs of 40-horse hitches used to move circuses into towns - and drive up local interest in the show. Sparrow decided to revive the tradition that had last been attempted by Barnum & Bailey Circus Co. in 1904.

"We basically had to reinvent the wheel," said Paul Sparrow, Dick Sparrow's eldest son, who was 17 when his father began assembling the team. "Nobody alive knew how to do what we were doing at that time."
The 40-horse hitch stretched 110 feet from Sparrow's fists to the front horses, Paul Sparrow said. The team stood four abreast in 10 rows and pulled a 12-foot-tall, 4-ton wagon built in 1920 to haul the big top for Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.

Sparrow dazzled crowds by halting his 40-horse team and making the horses back up. Turning corners required split-second timing and expert maneuvering.

"When you got on top the wagon and behind all those horses, it went on forever," Paul Sparrow said. "When you made a turn, you lost sight of the lead horses."
Dick Sparrow used 10 leather lines - five in each hand - to steer more than 40 tons of horseflesh, roughly twice the weight of an empty 60-seat New York City transit bus.

In 1976, Sparrow twice expanded to 48 horses - once at the Iowa State Fair and again at the Cotton Bowl Parade in Dallas. The feats earned him a notation in Guinness World Records.

A Parkersburg seed corn company dropped its sponsorship of the team in 1977, and Sparrow sold the team and equipment at auction for about $100,000.
Sparrow remained active in the horse industry until failing health forced him into partial retirement in recent years, his son said.

Sparrow is survived by his wife, Joy, a sister, five children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Dakins Community Center in Zearing with burial at the Zearing Cemetery. Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

From Frank and Pati

IMG, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Buckles -

Attached in a photo of Nino (Giobanni Zoppe') and 14 month old Julien. Julien can already stand and balance on Nino's palm and hang from a Russian Bar.

Thanks for all you do!

From Hal Guyon

Christmas Elephant, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.


Wishing You & Barbara a Very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Keep up the great work on the blog for years to come.

Attached is a picture that says, Terrell Jacobs Circus elephant "Jeannie" at a shopping center stand Beaumont, Texas November 26, 1957. I don`t know what carnival is in the background.

From Frank Ferrante

IMG, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Buckles -

Attached is a photo of The Hartzell Boys - Christopher & Kip, sons of John & Deanna Hartzell and Jamie, son of Ross Hartzell sitting atop of Baby Tika (Then owned by Smokey Jones and presented by Scott Riddle.), while on the Wallace & Rogers Circus in 1976.

"The True Story" (From Wayne Jackson)

LZ996424, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Speeding train kills elephant, hurts another

Mon Mar 01 2010, 03:23 hrs

A female wild elephant was killed on the spot when a speeding goods train dragged it for about 100 metres in the Deepor Beel wetland — a Ramsar site — near here early on Sunday.

Another female elephant, which was pregnant, was injured after being hit by the train. It ran into the jungle and later gave birth to a calf.

The two elephants had apparently strayed away from the main herd. Guwahati Wildlife DFO S K Seal Sarma said a herd of about 16 elephants were in Deepor Beel since Saturday morning.

“We have rescued the new-born calf and shifted it to the Assam State Zoo. The mother has been spotted inside the jungle and we will try to tranquilise it in order to give it medical treatment,” the DFO said.

Northeast Frontier Railway spokesman S S Hajong, quoting local witnesses, said the elephant that got killed apparently put its trunk forward while the goods train was passing that area. The accident occurred around 4 am when the goods train was coming towards Guwahati, he said.

“Local people told us that while a herd of wild elephants which had come to the Deepor Beel for bathing and drinking water was trying to cross the tracks, one of the elephants somehow moved its trunk towards the tracks as the train was passing by,” Hajong said. The railway authorities have already ordered an inquiry into the incident.

This is the second incident of a wild elephant getting killed by a train in the Deepor Beel, which has the Guwahati-Goalpara railway track passing through. A baby elephant was killed in the same spot in May last year.

Herds of elephants come down from the Rani reserved forest to the Deepor Beel almost every day, prompting the railways to run trains between Kamakhya and Azara stations at just 10 km per hour.

The Northeast Frontier Railway in fact has a project to mitigate elephant mortality due to train accidents, with the Wildlife Trust of India, the state government and Elephant Family supporting it.

Sunday’s elephant was the sixth victim of trains in Assam in the past three months. While four elephants including two calves were mowed down by a speeding train between Diphu and Doldoli stations in Karbi Anglong district in central Assam on January 2, one male elephant was killed by a train near Hojai in Nagaon district on December 22.

Assam incidentally accounts for about 37 per cent of the total elephant deaths caused by trains in the country, followed by West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seils-Sterling Circus #1 (From Buckles)

Scan00000010096, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Seils-Sterling Circus #2

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Seils-Sterling Circus #3

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Seils-Sterling Circus #4

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"Lucy" and "Billy Sunday" presented by Leo "Tiger Bill" Snyder.

"There are scarcely any pictures in this Route Book so I added a few
from my own collection. This one is undated.

Inspired by a well known circus personality, who after complimenting the Blog added, "I just look at the pictures, I don't bother with the rest of that crap!"


Seils-Sterling Circus #5

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Seils-Sterling Circus #6

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Seils-Sterling Circus #7

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Jimmy Hamiter, Betty and Fred K. Leonard (1938)

Seils-Sterling Circus #8

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Seils-Sterling Circus #9

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Seils-Sterling Circus #10

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Teresa Morales (1937)

Seils-Sterling Circus #11

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Seils-Sterling Circus #12

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Monday, December 27, 2010

"Tusko" and Slim Lewis #1 (From Buckles)

Scan00000010077, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

We were chatting recently about the size of "Tusko".
Here are a few pictures of his final days.
The Barnes Show had been trying to get rid of him for some time and
in 1931 while showing in the Northwest managed to literally "Unload"
him on an unsuspecting party.
He was under the supervision of Jack O'Grady and Sleepy Gray, two
Barnes animal men, who eventually became owners.

This picture shows how he was snubbed down. You may notice that
missing is the bail ring over the top of his tusks, replaced by a bent bar.

"Tusko" and Slim Lewis #2

Scan00000010073, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

George "Slim" Lewis and "Tusko" enroute.

In his book, Slim wrote:
"I heard that Tusko had been sold by Al G. Barnes to a walkathon promoter on the West Coast. The promoter had gone broke and Tusko was stranded in Salem, Oregon."

As we know by 1931 John Ringling had owned the Barnes Show
for several years and after his experience with "Black Diamond", I'm
sure he was delighted to see "Tusko" go on to bigger and better things.

"Tusko" and Slim Lewis #3

Scan00000010076, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

These next three pictures give an indication of what they had to go
through to move him from point A to point B.

"Tusko" and Slim Lewis #4

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"Tusko" and Slim Lewis #5

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"Tusko" and Slim Lewis #6

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Written on the back:

"Sleepy" Gray, Harry Plant and Bob Hendricks.

"I would say that Mr. Plant was another of many people induced to provide shelter and probably lived to regret it. Those overhead rafters
look mighty tempting."

"Tusko" and Slim Lewis #7

Scan00000010072, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Unidentified party wrote on the back:

"Last Days of Tusko- Portland, Oregon
Black streaks on temples are secretion flowing from vents during
Musth period."

"Seems an odd time to take his hardware off, even the martingale is hanging free"