Winter on the Road

Oh hi, Polar Vortex, soon to be unseasonably warm spell! It's really cold tonight and it's going to snow. And sleet. And rain, both freezing and not. By this time tomorrow night, God knows what the conditions will be, but the precipitation will be over. It's going to be dangerously cold tonight, but by Sunday noon it will be over 60 degrees. What the hell, weather? I spent several weeks one frigid winter on the... Read more →


Rosie Takes a Walk

One fine day in the olden days (1976), Sidewall Sam* and I were sitting in the doorway of his van enjoying the fine spring air. We were in Huntsville, Alabama; the circus was set up in a mall parking lot. It was between shows, late afternoon, a quiet time when most of the performers were fixing supper and the gazoonies and workin' men were passed out. I was feeling particularly good -- the lot was... Read more →


OVO

I've seen several Cirque du Soleil shows, starting in the late 80s. I have loved each and every one of them, too. Last Saturday, Sonnyeboy came up from Baltimore and the three of us took off for Hershey to see OVO at the Giant Center. Normally we see Hershey Bears hockey games there, but not this time. As is our habit, we arrived at 6:30, about an hour early, just as the doors opened. Half... Read more →


Big Top

The Holidailies Random Promptinator suggests: Post a personal photo and tell us a story about it. Here you go -- the three-ring big top of the George Matthews Great London Circus. I took this photo in spring, 1976; I can't remember where we were, but it looks like a pretty nice lot. George Matthews Great London Circus Big Top What a great big top it was! Those beat-up trucks in the foreground are seat-wagon trucks.... Read more →


Skittish

Well, the nor'easter wasn't nearly as bad as it was supposed to be, and that is just fine. Don't get me wrong -- it is windy and nasty and rainy, but the river is behaving itself. So far. Fingers crossed! Joe's working tonight. Normally, he picks me up, I drop him off and go home, then I pick him up. But I have gotten wimpier about driving at night in bad weather, so he picked... Read more →


Clowns!

Here I am with a couple of real clowns! (I wish the light were better, but hey.) Yes! Every year the Kelly-Miller Circus comes to Olney (only seven miles from us) and every year we try to go. And one reason we go to this lovely small show is to see the clowns, of course. Steve and Ryan are two of the best in the business. I met Steve briefly at the Clown College Reunion,... Read more →


The One about the Donniker

Okay! The donniker story! As I mentioned, circus folks have a language all their own. One of my favorites is donniker, which means toilet. Merriam Webster Online says it probably has its roots in the word dunnekin, from an old English dialect. Well, be that as it may, of the four circuses I worked for, only one had its own donniker. The others either brought in Porta-Potties (which we still called donnikers) or played venues... Read more →


I Just Wanted To Get Away

Reading this article on Salon.com brought back a circus memory I had buried. All these years later, it always skeeves the hell out of me. I was working as advance clown for a tiny little circus based in Saginaw, Michigan. This show did a fall and winter circuit of schools, armories, and town rec centers. I went ahead of the rest of the show and did promotional shows at elementary schools to advertise the circus.... Read more →


It's Late

Letterman's just begun and I am awake; have been all evening. Nope, not even a sleepy-eyed nod off on the sofa. I used to stay up way late at night during my circus days, especially the first year when I helped tear down the big top. I'd finish the second show, change my clothes and take off my makeup, and head into the tent to haul quarter poles. After that I'd hang out until time... Read more →


The Aztec God of Flight

Meet Billy Barton, aka Mr. Sensation. I met Billy in 1976, my first year running around with circuses. He was an amazing person and I adored him. Billy was in his late forties in 1976 and still doing his signature cloud swing act, as Prince Najvez, the Aztec God of Flight. It was a wonderful, scary, exhilarating act. A cloud swing is kind of like a trapeze, only it does not have a fixed bar... Read more →