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.

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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!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

CIRCUS AMERICA: CLOWN ALLEY

CLOWN ALLEY: The producing clowns were Alfredo Landon, Gene Randow, & Max Craig.
ALFREDO LANDON



GENE RANDOW


MILLIE & WALTER STIMAX


HAROLD HALL & ALBERT "FLO" WHITE


JOHNNY "SMILEY" DALY Jr., JOHN McKAY, & GEOF & JUNE DEWSBURY


NEIL KAY, DAVID STRONG, & CHUCK SATEJA


CHARLIE FRANKS & ABE GOLDSTEIN


PELUZA & JOHNNY CIRILLINO

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was wondering if the clown above name Charlie Franks was evera bull man ? i met a man by that name once when Wally Ross came by to visit me and he said he had being a bullman once .what ever became of him ?

5/05/2007 12:23 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

I can't say for sure but I don't think it could have been the same Charlie Franks, I think this one was a hold over from the Vaudeville days. He used to do a slight of hand thing making it seem he was producing one egg after another from his mouth. He was a very quiet, soft spoken likeable gentleman.

5/05/2007 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that was a clownalley!

-Greg

5/06/2007 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlie always told me he was one of the original Keystone Kops from silent film days.
BG Dallas

5/07/2007 11:47 AM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

It is entirely possible, I know Abe billed himself as the last of the Keystone Kops. I guess I'm going to have to give Joe Sherman a call, he's probably the only one left who knows.

5/07/2007 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Bill:
Another clown in the alley for that show that you did not mention was Don Kirby, aka "Mr. Spud." He was from Garden Grove, California. I knew Don very well, as he helped me in my very early years of clowning and performing. Don originally was a flyer who was injured early in his career and had to give up flying. He was a talented acrobat and all-around performer but focused on his clowning career after his injury. He had spent some years with DeWayne Bros. Circus and was with Gatti Circus or Gatti-Charles (I can't remember the title in those days right off the top of my head and I'm at work, so I can't look it up) in the late 60's-early 70's and his portrait in full clown make-up was used for the cover of the Gatti program in about 1971 or 72. He was producing clown on Miller-Johnson Circus in 1973 when Cliff Vargas first purchased the show. He was also producing clown on the show in 1974, when Mr. V changed the title to Circus Vargas late that season. I travelled with Don on the show in the summer of 1974 for a few weeks and left the show at Mt. Clemens, Michigan. That day in Mt. Clemens, a tornado hit the show right before the matinee and the Big Top literally exploded. I was in Don's motorhome after the warning went out and one of the top's side poles pierced the door of his motorhome. He had to pull the side pull out before I could open the door to get out. The Big Top ended up in shreds and the Vashek's motorcycle on the inclined wire was completely destroyed. Mr. V had three elephant acts that year including Oscar and Marion Cristiani's 4 bulls, Bobby and Rosa Gibbs with 3 and Wally Ross with three. When the tornado blew through, all of the elephants bolted from their picket lines and ended up in a low point on the lot that had turned into a lake from the torrential rains that went through with the tornado. They were having a great time in the 2 feet or so of water and I remember that Bobby, Wally and Oscar with their elephant men had a helluva time getting them out! Sevral acts' rigs and equipment were seriously damaged and I had an old Polaroid Camera with three packs of film. Don had me take a photo of the damage to his motorhome for insurance reasons and when Bobby spotted the camera he came running over and grabbed it right out of my hands (nicely of course) film and all and several acts used it to shoot photos of the damage to their rigs and equipment. A few hours later Bobby brought it back to me with all my film used up, so I didn't even end up with a single photo of the event! From that date, the show had a huge jump into New Jersey or New York- I can't remember exactly where and I went back home to Chelsea, Michigan where I lived at the time. That year in September, the show came back to Mt. Clemens to make up the date and of course, I visited the show again.

Anyway, after the Capital Center date, Don sent me a program with autographs of most of the show performers. I know Don had had a run-in with Karl Wallenda at some point and he even asked him to autograph my program because he knew that I was a fanatic circus collector even at that point. I have the letter he sent with it that said how he had to bite his tongue to ask Karl to sign my program. It to this day, is one of my most cherished possessions in my entire circus collection, which you know is quite huge at this point. I was in high school at that time and had a grade point average of 4.0, and I will never forget Don telling me that I was too smart to spend my career in the circus and that I should become a doctor instead. Well, I'm no doctor, but instead went through graduate school to specialize in restoring paintings. I have had the opportunity to restore great works of art from Monet to Picasso, but I always have regretted following Don's advice. But I cherish my few years in the circus business and enjoy the great relationships with showfolks that I have been able to keep through the years. I don't think Don Kirby was too well known in the business because he was based on the west coast and he passed away in 1977, still a young man in his early 40's from a massive heart attack. Don was a fine person and devoted performer. I will never forget him and I wanted to make sure that he was not forgotten for his part in that show of all shows. Thanks.
Neil Cockerline

5/07/2007 2:45 PM  
Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

Hi Neil,
Thank you for the great story, I remember Don, my problem was, I went with what pictures I could dig up, there are several clowns listed in the program whose pictures I couldn't find,(clicking on it will bring it up to a size you can read), if you could send me a scan of Don I would be more than glad to put it on with the rest. I was a little perturbed because my son David didn't get listed. This Circus America post will continue to grow as srories come to mind, & more pictures surface.

5/07/2007 3:39 PM  

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