YESTERDAY'S TOWNS

HOWDY, MY NAME IS BILL STRONG, I'LL BE YOUR "24 HOUR MAN", ROUTING YOU INTO THE PAST TO SEE WHAT THE CIRCUS WAS IN DAYS GONE BY. IF YOU'RE LIKE ME, AND MISS WHAT IT USED TO BE, THEN COME ON ALONG AS WE GO DOWN THE ROAD FOLLOWING THE ARROWS BACKWARDS, TO "YESTERDAY'S TOWNS"! IF YOU HAVE CIRCUS RELATED PICTURES YOU WOULD LIKE POSTED, SEND THEM TO,,,,yesterday1@verizon.net,,,,AND WE WILL TRY TO FIT THEM IN. "24 HOUR MAN" WILL HAVE THE FINAL DECISION ON POSTING.

My Photo
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Location: GIBSONTON, FLORIDA, United States

Three years at CWM made me a real traditionalist, and I keep remembering Bob Parkinson saying, "I want the people to see what the circus used to be, not what it is today. That's what this site is about!

Monday, February 26, 2007

HIGH ACTS: FROM BOB CLINE THE FOUR QUEENS

Good Morning Bill and Trudy, Please find enclosed several of the original photos that "Fritzie" Hartzman gave me two weeks ago from her performing days with the Four Queens. This is the information she gave me about them. The girls are Sue Aulric, Alfrieda "Fritzie" Small, Marie Kirkourian, and "Boots" Strube. "Boots" husband was Tony Strube, the group's manager and ground man. These photos were taken in 1934 / 1935 on the William Glick Shows carnival where they worked as a Free Act on the midway. The girls put up and took down their own rigging with Tony on the ground tying off. In 1934, Sue Aulric died when she lost her grip on the Breakaway sway pole. After Fritzie left the group in 1937 when she met William Hartzman, the group went to Europe. They worked 110' feet in the air. One girl worked as the catcher of the cradle act while the other three all took turns doing the aerial routines with her. I still don't understand where the breakaway sway pole comes in and maybe it was taken out after Sue was killed, I'm not sure. None the less, this is still a rather unique rigging to me.

Above is 17 year old Fritzie Small in 1935


I can't imagine finding 4 guys who would tackle a rigging like this, let alone 4 girls.



21 Comments:

Anonymous RonPerry said...

Bill... it looks like you were very busy last night. Thanks for the series of high act photos. Like so many other good things about show business, acts like these have all but disappeared.

2/27/2007 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting those. Fritzi is still an amazing woman, 88 years old now, still drives her car and hasn't been in a hospital in 68 years when her son was born.
She doesn't have a computer but I'll print this out and show it to her. I know it will make her smile.
Bill Hartzman, Fritzi's son.

2/27/2007 9:12 AM  
Anonymous fatima said...

I do believe these four ladies worked in Olympia London in 1938,
I was 8 years old and remember the name "Queens" and the act...
Others I remember in the same program: The Christianis,,,Charlie Rivels and a lady walking up to high wire singing...and then sliding down...
Your website is the greatest!

2/27/2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger Bob Cline said...

Fatima,
You are 100% correct. Fritzie said they went to Europe right after she left in 1937.
Bob

2/27/2007 11:43 AM  
Anonymous dutchess said...

I have yet to see a single thing an old circus show broad could not do that any man did. Remember the war years when they kept the circus alive? I can still out work any man my age here at the kennel. Of course none of them ever lived circus. NEVER underestamite the power of an old circus broad. They were also smart enough to let a man do the hard labor when they were around.

2/27/2007 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE ORIGINAL....BREAKAWAY SWAY POLE
WAS MADE BY..GEORGE BRUNO...IN 1955,...GEORGE AND HIS WIFE...LEXY.
THEN....HE MADE 2...UNIT.
LEXIS AND RUTHY,
LEXIS DOING THE BREAKAWAY.UNIT 1.
GEORGE AND MIREILLE. UNIT 2.
GEORGE DOING THE BREAKAWAY.1956...

2/27/2007 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Ninette said...

Lester Parker' started working the break-away sway pole for george Bruno in 1960. Afther agreement and 2 years. He started his on with a different design for the brea-away midle axel. but he only worked by himself until he made the double brea-away with Alex Biro. Piere' worked for Parker but decided he could easily pick-up his leg when coming down as the bldg was low, naturedly that was a big No'No' he broke both of his leg, still walking with a cane I hear. now Alex' decided to make his own. he was alerted to change what ever he feel's like it, but dont ever change the small hook's that would hold him up' unfortunatly he did not took this advice seriously and flue off the rigging ending in a coma for six months then he tried it again and some mistake happen that put him back in a coma this time for two years and finally pass away. now for Lester Parker' he also made a mistake' to wait for next week to change the coffle to a brand new one, that held the sway pole together, the old one got loose and Lester Parker whent on joining the rest of the performers on the greates show somewhere?

2/27/2007 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Ninette said...

Fogort to mention that Lester Parker' did get 10 good years with the break-away sway pole. I just whent up on it for the fun of it and see what I could see from up there, a' pretty good view.

2/27/2007 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Ninette said...

Well what was I thinking of! Not 10' but 15 years. From June, 1960 to October, 1975' last show for lester Parker.

2/28/2007 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Ninette said...

This will be for anyone that is interested in the records of the break-away sway-pole act. Lester Parker son, 'Joseph Parker' did the act at 16 years old. He was allready 6ft tall but unfortunately his strenght in his arms was not yet fully developed, at one of his performance he went over too far on the handstand for the break-away that ended in breaking both of his arms, but did return back doing it at age 20' now 6ft4" and strong enough in taking turns with his father. The afternoon show was his and the night show was his father.
more to follow from another source.

2/28/2007 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember The Fearless Falcons - High Act? They worked Fairs and in the early thirties they were at The Steel Pier. Anyone have photos of this act they could share? The act consisted of Orville and Myrtle La Rose and at one time Frank Shepard performed with the act. Thanks. Charles H.

2/28/2007 5:51 PM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

Just looking at these pictures scares me. Give me an arena filled with wild cats anytime. I had to finally give up climbing on my roof to retar last year. Cimbing the latter became too scary and it was only about 20 foot high. Going up was OK, climbing back down was a thrill I can do with out. My hat is off to the wonder performers who could do these great stunts day in and day out.

2/28/2007 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. 24 hour-man encourage me to look over some of my old programs. I am looking at a program that reads Selinsgrove Fair in Pa. week of July 19 to 24 1948. First page has THE NORBERTY'S AERIAL ACT - Next page, reads California Queens
aerial act. The picture shows the riggin with a girl in the cradle holding the other 3 girls. Below the picture it reads: Four Daring Aerialist, The California Queens, performing on a unique rigging of their own design high above the ground without the use of a safety device. 100 feet high. Next page - THE FLORIDA TRIO - Is it Man or Dummy? Four pages after Shows THE WILFRED MAY TRIO-Hoops My Dear. -- Before I became the Trio of the new Wilfred Mae Trio. I was one of Peaches Sky Review. Just goes to show you, we were not over worked. God Bless Fritzi!! I give her a lot of credit getting around on her own. Guess we are all in the same boat. My Thanks to Bill for keeping us all above water. I enjoy your website more each day.
Bertha

2/28/2007 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More info on
The Breakaway Swaypole;
George Bruno at first he use to have a swivel on top of the pole.
as he would do his handstand,in a circle movement,he would do it in PIROUETTE,swivel. it was great.
The first person that he try was his friend Carlos Garcia.Evelyn Theron Garcia husband.in 1955
practicing in the building,not that height, he did the handstand.
and went over it. as George saw
that he SCREAMS TWIST. TWIST.
as he did that ,he came out of it
and so luckly, he dint not broke his 2 amrs. thanks to the swivel.
but that was the end of Carlos Garcia with the act. no way no more swaypole.
Then came Lester Parker.
God Bless him. Thanks to Ninette for the info.
in Nov 1975. George Bruno. was
practicing with his daughter,Melody
17 years old, and Jean-Pierre.
(J-P) Theron 20 years old, the
act for the RBBB. 2 solo Breakaway
swaypole.for 2 years.
they were in New York City, for a long time. J-P turn 21. i drove from Sarasota to Madison Square Garden,with 21 bottle of champagne in the car tunk.it was a great party for all the performers.
Ring 1 Melody, and Ring 3 J-P.
Many Many time they would do it
at the same time,PRECISELY. And the
audience would get up of there seat....!!!!!!!Really Fantastic,
you dint know were to look.
Mr Feld. wanted 2 more years but
J-P sayd no. has he felt very responsive for Melody,and she was very young and happy.
J-p still work for Bruno, for many year after.
then he went on his on, and with his wife Doris,2 Breakaway swaypole
for many years,
also Kris Bruno did it.
after that, many more came out.
sincerely mireille.

ps.Father Mother son and daughter.all did
THE BREAKAWAY SWAYPOLE...

2/28/2007 10:09 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

If I'm not mistaken, using the swivel top, George did the break-away forward, backward, & even sideways.
The first time I saw Bruno was in Kansas City, it is 98 ft. to the ceiling and they had to take out one of the ventilators so George didn't hit it with his feet. When he did the break-away, the people in the balcony parted like the Red Sea!

3/01/2007 8:44 PM  
Blogger creedwait said...

My mother was one of the Four Queens. Her name at the time was Irene Gibson, her husband, Johnny Gibson, was also with the circus. She was in the act about ten years while touring England, Canada and the US. I have a few photos I can post. She had a specialty of falling from the high-wire with a cable around her ankle. I suppose that she was the original bungee jumper.

8/20/2007 2:21 AM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

creedwait: I would never pass up a chance to post "High Act" pictures, especially, "The Queens", they seem to have captured some hearts. I have also a new picture of Johnny Gibson's "Break-Away" that would fit with them.
My blog email address is in the blog header for the convience of anyone wishing to have pics posted. Thank You,
24 HOUR MAN

8/20/2007 8:34 AM  
OpenID icesk8pro101 said...

Hi guys,

George Bruno is my grandfather. I have been searching the web to find info about him. He has passed away and I am trying to find info on the web to share with my child...(his great grandchild).. If anyone could help me I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,
Ann

10/18/2008 12:25 AM  
Anonymous George Bruno Jr. said...

My daughter just introduced me to this site. She was looking for any
pictures or information about her grandfather, George Bruno. This is George Bruno Jr. I'm the older son of George Bruno. Melody and Chris Bruno are my half brother and sister. Same father,different mother. My mother and father divorced when I was very young. As I got older I spent summer vacations traveling with my Dad when he was performing in different parks, fairs, shows, all over the states & Hawaii. I remember the names, Ninette & Les Parker. Great way to spend your school summer vacations and grow up as a kid. Great Memories

10/18/2008 12:50 AM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

To Ann & George Jr.:
George Bruno was one of the most popular, well liked, looked up to performers in show business, one of those rare personalities everyone flocked to and wanted to be his friend. I will look through my files to see if I have any photos.
Bill

10/18/2008 9:15 AM  
Blogger ann said...

Hi Bill,

Thanks for responding to our blog. If you have any photos of my grandfather I would really appreciate it. I am trying to explain to my daughter what a great entertainer he was. She was fortunate to meet him, however she never got a chance to see him perform. I feel very fortunate that I had a chance as a child to see him perform. I did get the genes of performing from him. I was a figure skater and I am now a coach. My daughter is a figure skater and enjoys the love of performing. I want her to know where this came from..her Great Grandfather. If you could help me with this I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks so much,
Ann

11/26/2008 11:45 PM  

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