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
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
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
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
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
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
To be Continued