Then it hit me all at once! I remembered that Dad had talked on the front of an illusion show years before and the feature of the show was Anga Letta, the Four Legged Girl. This was a gaffed up illusion that I hadn't seen in years and years. It would be something the younger generation hadn't seen so I made up my mind as to what I was going to do come morning and dozed off to sleep.


The next morning after breakfast, May and I went into town looking for a big overstuffed chair. I found just what I was looking for in a Salvation Army store. They also had an old bass drum, a damaged tuba, a cornet, a trombone and a sax. I dickered with the captain and bought the whole lot for a yard plus he threw in a couple of evening gowns and two pairs of lady's slippers.


We crammed it all into the window van that we had at the time. Now that I had everything needed to frame up the four legged girl illusion, we started back to the lot.


May questioned, "Just what in the hell are you gonna do with all this crap, start a band?" My reply was, "That's exactly what I'm gonna do, my little chickadee, start a band." She looked at me and I winked my eye at her to which she sighed, "I'll bet that this one's gonna be a lulu."


When we got back to the lot, we went to work re-making the chair for the Four Legged Girl act.


I explained to May and George Rin, the inside lecturer (and a damn good carpenter), how to take the springs and the padding out of the chair without injuring the upholstery and to replace the springs and padding with plywood.


While they were doing that, Happy, the tattooed man and I worked at painting new banners with pictures on them showing the Four Legged Girl dancing and roller skating.


As we worked, a gal with a baby in her arms and carrying a Tennessee suitcase (a cardboard box) came up to us, saying, "Is Mr. Fats around here, I'm looking for work. I asked the man that has the restaurant if he needed a girl to wash dishes and he said that he had all the help he needed and sent me down here to see if Mr. Fats could use me in his show."
I said, "I'm Fats and it just so happens I could use another girl. Are you free to travel?" She answered, "I reckon so, if I can bring my baby with me," to which I replied, "I see no reason why you can't. How old are you?" She said, "I'll be twenty next month."


I asked her if she was married and she said that she wasn't. Now, this gal was a good looking gal, about the same size as May, and May could use some help in our cook tent to help feed the help, plus I could use her as the Four legged Girl.


I put her to work right away by sending her back to talk to May, who was glad that she had some more help. We had two more days left before the big day of the fair.


Now, the gaff of the Four Legged Gal was that one girl sat in the chair underneath the upholstery, hidden from view, with just her legs and feet showing and her knees together. Another girl sat in her lap, with her legs apart, with her dress split in the back and the front pulled up to her knees. Standing in front of the gal, it looked like she had four legs.


The lecturer would have her kick one leg, then the other, then two at a time, then three and then all four. He would then have her stand up and stomp all four feet, doing the polka. The marks enjoyed that and would applaud.


Just before we opened, one of the carny kids came down the midway carrying an old beat up movie camera that he found in the dump behind the fairgrounds.

 

I called him over and asked if he would sell it to me. He said, yeah, and added that he would sell it to me for two bucks and he would throw in the thing that it sat on (meaning the tripod). I reached into my pocket to bring out a deuce and handed it to him. He handed me the camera and took off running toward the front of the midway saying that he would be right back. A few minutes he was back with the tripod. I took it on back to the rear of the show to fix it onto the tripod and clean it up.


May came by and said, "I guess that we're going into the movie making business now, right?" I answered, 'Yep and I'm going to run Cecil B. Demille right out of business." She then shook her head and walked away.


Well, after everything was readied up and the gal rehearsed for her part and the ruffeys were told what to do and how to do it, we were ready to go to work on the bally.

 

After the fire died out, the noise had stopped and I had a big tip in front of me, I was ready to tie May up to the cross and have her make an escape. I let the marks up in front of the bally check the ropes to see that there was nothing wrong with them and I tied her to the cross. I went into the pitch, saying, "Before I have her make her escape, quicker than you can blink your eyes, I'd like to tell you about the show that you are standing in front of. If you would cast your eyes overhead, the signs say Palace of Wonders. Inside you will see everything pictured, painted and advertised from way down there (I pointed to the left) to way up there (I then pointed to the right). Each one of those paintings represents something that we have inside."


"Now, I could stand out here for an hour and a half telling you about the little Cadodies from southern Yucatan or Mexico, or the

 

pinheads from Africa, or the Pygmies or the little cannibals. I can tell you about the fire eater, the sword swallower or the pain proof man that you see standing before you but I'm not going to take up your time doing that."

 

"First, I would like for you to know that I am not one of those so-called carnival barkers. I am a free-lance photographer and old Betsy here (at that time the ticket seller handed me the junked movie camera) filmed thousands of feet of film for Ripley's Believe It Or Not's Strange As It May Seem and for the National Geographic magazine. I have traveled to the four corners of the earth doing so. In all my travels, and the strange things that I have seen, the strangest of them all is right inside this tent. It is Angeletta Vetta, the Four Legged Girl. She has four perfect feet, legs, limbs and thighs on one body."


"Folks often ask, can she walk on those four legs? I can assure you that not only can she walk, she can run, hop, skip and jump. She can ride a bicycle, roller skate and dance the polka. She is a high school graduate, married to a lieutenant in the Air Force. She is the mother of a six month old child that is normal in every respect."


"Believe me, when the nurse wheels that baby down that sawdust aisle inside and you see it, if you are a lover of little children and have a heart down deep in your body, you will have to say that it is the prettiest baby that you have ever seen. To prove to you that she can dance, we have arranged for a local polka band to play while she does the polka."


About that time, my ruffeys came from the back of the crowd, tooting on the horns and beating on the bass drum. Hell, these guys couldn't carry a tune with a song book under each arm!

 

I answered, "Yes, this is the place." At this time, I'm holding the microphone down low so that it picks up the conversation and everyone can hear it. He says, "We're supposed to play for her to dance," and I replied, "Walk right in."


Well, George starts in, tooting on the tuba, followed by the ruffey with the trombone, sliding back and forth and blowing it, followed by the rest of the band, with the ruffey beating on the bass drum bringing up the rear.


I announce, "There goes the band! She's now on stage roller skating and when she takes them off, she will start doing the polka. Get your tickets and hurry in if you want to see her dance! Fifty cent tickets only!"


Believe me, the marks damn near pushed the ticket boxes over getting the tickets! I happened to look off to one side of the crowd and Ralph, the pitch and Lou were cracking up.


The Four Legged Girl was a winner for years without any problems, but one. That was the time we set the stage over an ant hill. About half way through her act she and the gal under her were covered with
ants. Both of the gals did a quick exit out of the gaffed-up chair and under the side wall of the tent Man, the marks, almost tore the show down and would have if Ralph, the fixer, hadn't arrived and squashed the beefs by kicking them back their money.


As for the girls they had so many welts on them that they looked like they had a bad case of the chicken pocks. You can bet your life, from then on, the spot where the Four Legged Girl's stage was to go was thoroughly checked and rechecked.

 


To be Continued

 

Posted here courtesy of Midway Publications - Copyright 1999 William T. Usher All rights reserved

 


If you have information about William T. Usher please email us at the Sideshow World

 

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