THE STORY HOW I BECAME THE
FOR FIFTEEN YEARS John Carson
and Jean Furella were in love. They
meet and sigh and part, broken-hearted, like lovers crossed
by Fate through the ages. For there was a barrier between
them that seemed insuperable. The barrier that kept the
lovers apart was a long, luxuriant, dark, silky beard.
The couple discussed their plight one day with a mutual
friend of long standing. The friend is Alec Linton, who is
famous all over the United States and many foreign
countries, where he has thrilled countless thousands with
his artistry. Mr. Linton is a swallower of swords. He works
in circuses and in carnivals. And Mr. Linton, miraculously,
came up with a solution of the problem that had been sorely
trying his two friends for so many years.
"Why not," said Mr. Linton, "have your beard removed? You
say that you want to stay in show business; well, suppose
you remove your beard, and then, while it is being done, you
get yourself tattooed."
Mr. Linton leaned forward in his seat, tense with the
excitement of his inspired thought, but careful nonetheless,
of the wicked blade that he had been cleaning after his
sword swallowing act. "Then," he continued, "you will still
be able to work in circuses and carnivals, because you will
be just as great an attraction to the public. Maybe even a
greater attraction. A tattooed lady is an even greater
rarity than a bearded lady."
MRS. JOHN CARSON, the former Jean Furella, had tears in her
eyes, although she was smiling joyfully, as she told the
story of the happy solution of her dilemma.
"I was one of the few real, honest-to-goodness bearded
ladies in the business," she said. :Most of the bearded
ladies you see around are fakers. And I was happy, except
that I loved John here, and he loved me, but he just
couldn't see his way clear to marrying me while I had a
John Carson has been a circus and carnival worker all his
life. He ran away from his home in Youngstown, Ohio, before
he reached his teens. He followed a circus that came
through Youngstown, and he was, successively, a water boy,
then a roust-about, and after he reached maturity, a barker.
"It was eighteen years ago," said John Carson, "that I first
laid eyes on Jean. She had just joined our show-the
Hagenback and Wallace Circus, it was-and she was 14 years
old and beautiful. What I mean is, she had a gorgeous
figure. But she had this beard. There are a lot of girls
around a circus, you know, a lot of beautiful girls. But I
could never take my mind off Jean, even with the beard."
Mr. Carson shook his head ruefully. "I loved her, all
right, but I just couldn't bring myself to make love to
her. I just couldn't kiss her. It always seemed to me it
would be like kissing my uncle."
Jean laughed. "I never did get kissed," she said, "until
three years ago, when my beard was finally all off, and John
and I became engaged. It was just like I always thought it
would be. It was like electricity.'