Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ringling-Barnum Circus 1951

A large turnout at Walter Logan's funeral, a beautiful ceremony and afterward a reception by his family. Of course a lot of Cole Show people there headed by owner Johnny and Mrs. Pugh.

I must leave 6:00 in the morning to take my daughter in law, Melissa to the Airport. So tomorrow's Blog will be late.

Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus late 1960's

An early start today since I have to get my chores done before Elliott arrives to take me to DeLand. Pretty good drive up there, over two hours. So this is a good chance to send off some unrelated things.

John Goodall sent me a spectacular 8 by 10 of the interior of the Beatty Show big top with a full house and the elephant display in action. Unfortunately this format wouldn't do the picture justice but I cropped out the very center showing Rex Williams working the center ring act from horse back.


Dave Price sent me several letters written by Highpockets when he was in charge of the Sells-Floto elephants in the early 1930's shedding surprising light on his character. His hand writing was beautiful, even written in green ink on blue stationery, to Master Bobby Gabel, a schoolboy. He filled him in on the events of the day including tid bits on Tom Mix, he even mentioned that he had informed Zack Terrell of their correspondance so he must have been the son of someone important. He even went so far as to instruct the boy to be sure to make good grades.
My dad was on the show at that time as well as having been with High at Hall's farm and Robbins Bros. (Fred Buchanan).
This picture came from the 1920 Billboard when High was Cheerful Gardner's assiatant on the Barnes Show.

For Emmy Rose

This is a picture for Barbara's niece Rosie who asked if I had a picture of her late brother Richard. Unfortunately I don't have one from the time he was with us.

Mexico City Safari Park

Freddy Logan sent me this picture years ago saying that this was the Park in Mexico that the Beatty Show sent "Kate", "Bee" and "Gyp" to in 1974.
Seems that I recall that Gene Garner was at this place and it might be a nice picture for Rebecca but on closer inspection after cropping it down, I don't think it is.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Poll question

Shannon here....

On the right is a poll. I'm planing on adding further to this web site. Most notably more video based multimedia. Now for those who have broadband (Cable, DSL or Wifi) will really get a kick out of this. But for the others still on dial-up, you will not be able to see the video unless you like waiting for a long while for it to download.

One thing I can do it make two versions of my videos - one for low speed - the video quality will not be that great but it's watchable. And high-speed where you will get the best video quality and it loads fast.

I will leave the poll up for a few days.

Diamond O Ranch #1

This is Tony Diano at his Diamond O Ranch. His father was an Italian immigrant who settled in Canton, Ohio and was a stone mason by trade and with nothing more than a shovel and wheel barrow built a large Concrete Company.
Tony liked horses and as you can see developed a Western persona. He next bought some American bison, longhorn cattle and he was off and runing.

Diamond O Ranch #2

As wealthy people are sometimes known to do, Mr. Diano began to fancy himself a Big Game Hunter. Having acquired a few exotic animals at the Ranch in 1951 he went to Africa and came back with a large group of animals which he claimed were the ones used in movies recently filmed there. To prove it he had "Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "Mogambo" painted on the trucks that he used to exhibit them at various places.
Included were two African elephants "Nackatala" and "Uganda" one of them seen unrolling canvas for trainer Jimmy Kaaro.

Diamond O Ranch #3

Diano bought his first Asian elephants in 1952 "Calcutta" and "Mysore" from the Hamid-Morton Circus and later in the year imported these three punks shown after being trained by Rex Williams. This brought his herd up to seven all of which, including much of the Diamond O menagerie, were taken to Gonzales, Texas the following spring to form the Diano Bros. Circus with Ben Davenport.
When the animals returned to Canton in the fall Diano had purchased the young male "Tommy".

Diamond O Ranch #4

Circus Fans Gerry and Kaye Scheiman took this picture 6/31/74 at what looks to be the infield of a Fairgrounds. First elephant in the ring is former Dailey Show elephant "Tommy" wearing the "Diamond O" headpiece and presented by Lee Keener.
By this time the Diano independent act consisted of six elephants "Tommy", "Calcutta", "Mysore", "Dolly", "Minnie" and "Tony" (a young male).
I never could have made sense out of this picture had the Scheiman's not written on the back "Morgan Berry and Eloise Berchtold elephants in the background".

Monday, November 28, 2005

Madison Sq. Garden 1978 #1

As I recall the Daily News was doing an elephant story and this photographer was following us around. Here we are getting ready for a performance, that's "Anna May" at left behind Ted Svertesky, the next group is the Ring 1 act "Minyak", "Mala", "Barbara", "Josky" and "Sophie", behind Gary Jacobson are "Vance" and "Sid".

Madison Sq. Garden 1978 #2

On occasion I would get a celebrity Guest Ringmaster for Anna May to take around the track before the show and drop off with Harold Ronk for an introduction. In this case Eartha Kitt appears to be having a change of heart as Anna May begins to stretch out.

Madison Sq. Garden 1978 #3

This is Dalilah being delicately mounted up on "Charlie" for "Opening" with the assistance of Jerry Aria. The African is "Billy". Check out the wardrobe and elephant blankets, gone forever.

Madison Sq. Garden 1978 #4

During all this. I must admit I was on top of the world. Being born and raised in the circus business, you are always in the shadow of the "Big Show" and in my case, being somewhat of a Circus Fan as well, it was a life time ambition to work elephants in the center ring with the Ringling Show in Madison Square Garden.
In the grand scheme of things tho when I left after six years of Ringling employ, I had less money than when I joined. Big Apple Circus changed all that, during 19 seasons with that Company we built our home in Florida and thru Barbara,s good business sense in making a few investments, we now live in mosest comfort in retirement.
Today things have changed, the elephant ride has corrupted most elepant men to the point where the Ringling Show or the Garden are meaningless without the ride. One guy I talked with briefly last winter said "The Insurance around here is very good".

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sad News

Jim Elliott called yesterday saying that Walter Logan had died the night before.
I plan on driving up to DeLand Wednesday for his funeral.

Barnum & Bailey Street Parade 1903/ Two Hemispheres band wagon

In 1903 when the Greatest Show on Earth returned from it's five year tour of Europe, James A. Bailey had these magnificent parade wagons built to compete with the Ringling brothers who had made remarkable inroads during his absence.
This is the largest, most expensive and best remembered parade vehicle ever built and remains in existance today.

Barnum & Bailey Street Parade 1903/ Forty horse hitch

Jake Posey's view while driving the Two Hemispheres band wagon.

Barnum & Bailey Street Parade 1903/ Phoenician Galley

I would assume that the ship would be lowered into the chassis of the wagon when enroute.

Barnum & Bailey Street Parade 1903/ America Tableau

What a gorgeous piece of equipment this is. I never noticed that the teamster and brakeman were dressed as cowboys.

The operation that carries the Greatest Show on Earth logo today is back in town. I can recall when all the new attrations for the upcoming year would be announced, today everything is shrouded in secrecy to the point where the press and public will be banned from the dress rehearsal.
Probably just as well, I paid $100 for tickets last winter for my friends and family and at intermission when Mr. Tyrone said "You ain't seen nothing yet!" we all nodded in agreement.
I hear mentioned that the new show won't have a cat act next year. We didn' see one last year.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wallace Bros. Circus 1952/ Arumi Singh

I have had several inquiries about Arumi Singh.
Ben Davenport sent Louis Reed to India twice to bring back baby elephants for Dailey Bros. Circus. In 1947 he brought back seven and in 1948 nine but surprisingly on each occasion he included a hand full of Hindi elephant men. Smokey told me that they were all pretty good hands.
Singh came with the second group and was unique since he spoke fluent English but his experience with animals was minimal as he had been mostly a Tour Guide in India. So almost eveything knew about working cats, elephants, etc. he learned here.
This picture I scanned from the 1952 Wallace Bros. program, the show was owned by Davenport. Singh has since settled in Chicago and has become a successful businessman.
He used to come to the Sarasota Circus Festival regularly.

Dailey Bros. Circus 1948/ Arumi Singh and "Butch"

Ringling-Barnum Circus 1948

Karianna "Snake Enchantress"

Sparks Circus 1921

Clifton Sparks in the center. Everyone wore hats and ties in those days, even for picking up snakes.

Kelly-Miller Circus 1955/ Frank Ellis

"Congo Frank" whose prize capture, laid down and died.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Russell Bros. Circus/ Claude and Pauline Webb

I suspect this picture was taken not long before they sold the show to Art Concello.
Maybe 30 years ago Barbara and I went to the Showfolks Club and I was delighted to see that Mr. Concello was holding court in one of the round booths actoss from the bar, almost right away Bobby Johnson came over telling us that we were invited to join the group, in fact several people were rousted to make room for us.
I had always heard that Mr. Concello was not one to dwell on the past but on this night he was in rare form answereing all my questions about being manager of the Ringling Show while strill in his 20's, later his purchase of Russell Bros. Circus, his association with Clyde Beatty and his triumphant return to the Ringling Show, supplying funds to John Ringling North to gain control of the show and so forth. Pretty heady stuff for a mud show guy such as myself.
I naturally assumed that this outpouring of information was due to my charm and wit but later Bobby Johnson told me that when we entered the club that night Concello leaned over to him and said "Who's the red headed broad?".

Russell Bros. Circus 1930's/ Midway

Looks like they brought the Big Show band out to bally.

Russell Bros. Circus 1941/ Clarke family

This is Ernestine Clarke, her mother and cousin Aletha (Kay Clarke?) at So.Beloit, Ill. May 15, 1941.

Russell Bros. Circus 1936/ "Topsy"

Barbara's family was on the Russell Show in 1939 and she has often mentioned how nice Pauline Webb was to her and her sisters. Most of all she talked about her chimp "Topsy" that was often in Mrs. Webb's trailer but was outfitted with living quarters of her own with scaled down furniture, a bed and private doniker.
Here she is with clown Jack Crippen in Beloit, Wis. July 20, 1936.

Russell Bros. Circus 1936/ Elephants

This is the elephant herd pictured in Arkadelphia, Ark. on October 31, 1936 "Rubber", "Margaret", "Sadie" and "Elsie".
They had been purchased from Wm. P. Hall over the years and while with Hall in 1927, the last two had been leased to Orton Bros. Circus and delivered by my dad. This is when he first met my mother.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Ed Sullivan Video Clip

Click on the Image to play the video.
WARNING: File size is 6MB - Translation, if you have a slow internet connection - go grab that 2nd cup of coffee.

Ringling-Barnum Circus/ "Diamond"

Got quite a bit of comment over the painted elephants, particularly Charlie Gray's Guatamalan spotted elephant. A number of people reminded me of the "Polka Dot Polka" on the Ringling Show in the early 1960's.
I saw the show that year and the thing I enjoyed the most was the show girls dancing on the track armed with beach balls the same color as the polka dots which they were choreographed to bounce back and forth with the music. Needless to say the balls would bounce into the rings, between the elephants, under the band stand and so forth.

Ringling-Barnum Circus/ Hugo Schmitt

This was a number called "Carnaby Street" and you may notice the flowers painted on the elephants. Weren't the hippies of the day called flower childen or flower child or something?

Clyde Bros. Circus (Howard Suesz)

Rex Williams gave me this, knowing I collect such things but I forget the date and circumstances. Seems like he said the act was booked in Hawaii with Fernandez when this picture was taken in either 1961 or 62.
Rex would use artist's chalk to decorate the elephants "Mary". "Sue" and "Ruth". He usually drew flowers and tic-tac-toe but on days like today he would draw jack-o-lanterns, etc.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Polack Bros. Circus 1965/ "Baby Stella"

I received a lenghty message from Annonymous regarding a lady we trouped with on the Polack Show named Stella Howell but I never could figure out which picture the comments were related to. She was a very nice person, in fact I named this little elephant after her.
While playing Medinah Temple in Chicago we would stable the elephants at the Armory at night. During the day they stood on a ramp just off stage and sometimes while we were in the ring performing, Mrs. Howell would show up with a large bag of produce I could see her distributing the vegetables equally where each elephant stood.
As the act neared the end she would be frantic swapping carrots and apples back and forth. I never had the heart to tell her that the first elephant back to the picket line "Jean" would swoop them all down to the bottom of the ramp and have most of it eaten by the time we got the headpieces off.

Ringling-Barnum Circus/Sarasota 1948

This is a publicity shot introducing Art Concello's new seat wagons.
Frank McClosky, Leonard Aylesworth, John Ringling North, William Curtis and Concello.
Aboard the wagon are a number of performers plus Hugo Schmitt and "Minyak".

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus early 1920's #1

But as they say, it's all been done before. This is Mr. Curtis' version of the same thing almost 30 years earlier for the American Circus Corporation

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus early 1920's #2

This picture shows how Mr. Curtis' seat wagons worked. My dad said that the big disadvantage here was spotting the wagons on muddy lots, whereas the conventional way you could simply carry stringers and jacks from the street if need be. The major advantage however was the fact that they couldn't fall down.
At right you can see another of Mr. Curtis inventions the canvas spool.

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus early 1920's #3

Cap Curtis' canvas spool being unloaded by a team of horses and it was rewound by a gasoline engine mounted on ther rear. As you can see this method, tho saving time and labor, was very hard on the canvas being dragged back and forth across the lot every day and was eventually discontinued.
As we know today's spools load and off load from the rear enabling the vehicle to move toward and away from the canvas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Elliott Billboard items #1

Amongst Jim Elliott's Billboard items was a mention of Barbara's and my wedding nuptuals. Pictured are Wanda Moore, the bride and groom, my mother, Shirley and Charlie Rex.
As we left for the wedding my father said "Remember, be back in time for 5 o'clock practice."

Elliott Billboard items #2

With grand and glorious expectations we took over the act, here we are in Detroit with "Sadie", "Lydia" and "Anna May".

Elliott Billboard items #3

Well, here am I at the conclusion of the 1960 season, a year older and much wiser. After sending home money off the top, feeding elephants, buying fuel and spending foolishly as young people do, I came home broke. Rather than return to Hugo with my hat in my hand, we camped at the Fairgrounds in LaGrange, Texas (also mentiomed in Elliott's items) where Corky Plunkett made a deal for us with the local feed dealer to sell elephant rides behind his store on the weekends at fifty cents a pop. This kept us and the elephants alive until some show would open in the Valley after New Years and then North for Shrine dates and Fairs.
This is "Anna May" and I giving the kiddies the thrill of a life time while Barbara takes the money.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"Bertha" Follow up

This is "Bertha" with Adams Bros. Circus in Monett, Mo. 4/24/60.
Performing in the ring is OK but here we see something of substance beginning to develop.

Circus World Museum 1960/ "Bertha" #1

Rebecca Apponey mentioned visiting with Jenda Smaha at Baraboo.
This is what she saw.

Circus World Museum 1960/ "Bertha" #2

Circus World Museum 1960/ "Bertha" #3

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Montgomery Bros. Dog & Pony Show

Here we are, parade day again, hard to believe a week has passed already. I never heard of this show before, sure is a nifty little hitch.

The machine failed me again this morning, Shannon assured me problem wasn't on our end. Sure enough it mysteriously started up again this afternoon. Rest assured my composure remained steadfast, bolstered by the Buccaneer victory.

Great Wallace Shows/ Snake den

Maybe you can see the lady seated thru the winwow pane "Serpentina". Among my dad's letters I remember reading "Frank Ellis' pit show snake died last night. Don't know why, just laid down and died".

Great Wallace Shows/ Zebra cage

Carl Hagenbeck Circus 1906/ Polar bear den

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Jack Joyce

As you may have noticed, I have received several messages from Jack Joyce's relatives, two nieces in particular. Today J. Hubbard reminds me that Jack Joyce Sr. had his own Wild West Show as well as making a European tour with Buffalo Bill Cody.
My dad and Jack were good friends but I remember him best from the days we worked together at Ringling Circus World in Florida.

Dignity in the Circus Ring

For some reason I have to enter my password each time I send out a picture and somehow it got lost but now I am back in business and pleased to report that while the machine was down yesterday, I remained dignified and stately.

I think this might be a good time to explain to all young people who plan on making the circus their career the importance of establishing a good rapport with costume designers. Bearing in mind that they are in a position to make you look very foolish as this Paul Gutheil photograph proves. The same applies to the unidentified artist in the background.

Robinson Military Elephants (Epilog)

This is Pitt's grave site at the Fairgrounds in Dillon, Montana. Some years back I received a letter from a College in that area asking information on "Pitt" and what battles she might have been in. I made the mistake of explaining that when asked, "102" is the age people want to hear, it is a "feel good" number which generally closes the conversation, when in fact she wasn't even half that age. Also that she had no Military record other than the skirmishes she underwent at such places as the Palace Theater.
Damned if I didn't get letters back questioning my accuracy and citing documents of hundred year old elephants and their wars, now I was sorry I had ever opened the first letter. I assume they must have had an agenda or even a Federal Grant they were trying to justify.

Arky Scott said it was a rainy night and as was customary, the elephants were being herded in an open area waiting for their act while the menagerie was being taken down. Suddenly a lightning bolt struck "Pitt" killing her instantly and knocking down the elephant on each side of her. Needless to say everything was pandemonium until order was restored.
In Arky's words "busted every gut in her".