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!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

BARS #1: FOR NEIL COCKERLINE: ABOUT HORIZONTAL BARS

As far as I know, all Horizontal Bars were made of Hickory, probably for it's strength, & flexibility,
the same reason it was used for tool handles, shovels, rakes, & hoes in particular.
Thus the terms, "Hoe Handlers", & "Hickory Stick Artists", applied to "Bar Actors"

Years ago when "Craftsmen", were plentiful it was easy to get bars, Blondie LaBlonde said they got them from a man in Oregon, and if they weren't pure white they would send them back. The difficult part of making bars is that it was necessary to drill a 5/8" hole lengthwise, through the center and insert a steel core up to 6ft long for added strength, if the drill bit started following the grain it would come out the side, and that bar scrapped. About 6" of each end of the bar was left square so it could be put in a socket to keep it from turning, the socket also had the connections for guy lines, in the old days these were made of brass. The core was threaded on the ends to keep it in the socket.
I have heard of people using bars without a core, but I also heard of them breaking, if a bar "cracked" length-wise while you were on it some serious damage to the palms of the hands could result.
Years ago a cracked bar would be discarded, as they became harder to get we would repair them by wrapping fine wire around the cracked area, and cover that with non-waterproof adhesive tape that was not slippery. In later years Johnny Hartzel made his own bars, and a man in Cleveland experimented making two halves, grooving them out, & gluing them on each side of a steel rod, they weren't overly popular.
The only act I ever saw use Steel bars was The Three Merkys(sp?), and they wrapped them with a very fine twine.

2 Comments:

Blogger 24-HOUR-MAN said...

FROM PENNY:
Bill, This is the best series that you have done to date. Really informative and of great interest. I know it took a lot of time to set up and post but your efforts were well worth it. Good job.
Penny

10/18/2008 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Bill: YOU ARE THE BEST!!! Thank you so much for letting all of us know this important information! I'm sure making bars is a lost art at this point, and your description is most important for historical accuracy! Your generosity in sharing this information is to be commended, as I don't think I've even seen a REAL bar act since the Pablo Rodriguez Troupe back in the 1960's. Yes, there have been any number of Russians doing some sort of bar acts, but these are all based on modern gymnastics and I believe they use metal bars. The photos of your hand "grips" are just sensational, and again, important historic information that I'm sure has NEVER been recorded anywhere before. As a circus fan, circus historian and collector, this information is just precious and I just can't thank you enough for taking the time to share this information! Again, YOU'RE THE BEST!!!
Neil Cockerline

10/28/2008 2:31 PM  

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