When You See a Retiree,
You may think that he's no longer a necessity,
But every nursing home you see.
They say welcome to the retiree.
Well, I'm an elderly retiree, and with today's
standard of operation I recon I'm no longer considered a
But back in the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties, I
was definitely a necessity to the owners of the side shows
on the midways of carnivals and fairs.
The reason? It was my job as talker (or barker) to induce
the marks (people) to buy tickets to see the show.
Believe it or not, I got paid from ten to twenty percent of
the gross just for beating my gums.
I remember the time I was the talker on Speedy Renal's Motor
Drome, called the Wall of Death.
We were rehashing a little pumpkin fair in Pennsylvania. It
was opening day and the midway was crowded with people. I
was on the bally (the stage in front of the Drome), the
riders were sitting on their motorcycles and racing their
Larry, our trick and fancy rider, was on the rollers (a
device like a treadmill) doing a few stunts, like standing
on the seat, sitting with his feet on the handlebars, riding
backward and standing on this head on the seat.
I was telling the marks about the show. "Ladies and
gentlemen, at this time you are standing in front of the
feature attraction of your fair, the Wall of Death." At this
time the riders would stop their engines while I continued
to make the pitch.
"This is where they race, ride and drive high geared, high
speed racing motorcycles at speeds well over a mile a minute
on a straight up and down board wall, jest as straight up
and down as the walls of your living room at home." "What
keeps them on the wall? Speed and gravity!"
"Have you ever put a marble in a bucket and swished the
bucket round and round, and watched the marble go around on
the inside wall of the bucket? The faster you swish, the
higher the marble went. Well, the same thing happens inside,
on the Wall of Death! The faster they go, the higher they
To be Continued