My Gypsy Experiences
by Charles Keeler
In the spring after the stock shows
there’s a time you need to book a few spots before the Battle of
Flowers in San Antonio. I used to go to Louisiana and play a few
celebrations. We got to meet a family of Gypsies, who had a grab
joint (hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks). They were the "Georges"
the only clan that I knew personally that worked food joints.
They were very nice people more open to the carnies then most
They had a 12 year old girl that worked the stand most of the time
and we got to know her pretty well, always friendly and
courteous. She had long pitch black hair that hung down to her
After the spring we left the show and went back to our regular
route. That winter when the gypsy men went off to work some men
attacked the women at their trailer and chained them up waiting
for the men to come home with the money. Mary (the young girls
name) watched as they killed her grandmother with an axe. When we
saw them in the spring Mary’s long black hair had turned
completely white. It was a terrible experience for her, especially
as her grandmother was special to her.
never heard anything but rumors that they caught the people that
did this terrible thing to her grandmother. I heard it was
carnies and then I heard it wasn't carnies. Maybe some one knows.
I heard they were caught and tried. I certainly hope so. Another
time we were up North and we had some Gypsies on the show. I'm
not sure but I believe it was a small town in Illinois. I believe
they were the Eli Clan. Most of the Gypsies that worked the games
were more friendly to us. The ones that just had the Mitt Camps
(palm reading etc.) were basically hard to reach as they were
traditionally separated from us foreigners. I got to know most of
them and became friends with them.
One of the older gentleman passed away and they had him taken to a
funeral home. Now Gypsy tradition does not allow the remains to
be left unattended till its interred. The funeral home did not
want to let the Gypsies stay in the funeral home overnight. They
had to go find a judge and get a court order to allow them to have
the wake. Finally, all the arrangements were made. I took over a
quart of Canadian Club, paid my respects to the family and to the
deceased then I left.
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