Willes Curiosity Shop
Lou Riley needed more shows for the backend of the midway
and he decided to frame a big wax show with some of the
historic figures from the past, in it, like Count Dracula,
Frankenstein, Joan of Ark, The Witch of Salem and Materia
Morah, the German spy.
I just so happened that the Willes Curiosity Shop in Philly,
was going out of business after a hundred years of selling
to museums and side show owners. They had almost anything.
Paper mache figures, oddities, wax figures of all kind, lots
of parts for store mannequins, like arms, legs, heads and
some complete bodies.
We were playing a date about fifty miles from Philly, so Lou
gave me a grand and told me to go and get enough material to
frame the wax show.
May, George Rin (our block head) and I went to town. Wanting
to unload all the miscellaneous wax figures, mannequin arms
and legs, we wound up with a ton of stuff for five hundred
dollars. We had to rent a U-Haul trailer to carry it back.
The trailer was a stake body with an open top. After we got
it loaded, we started back to the carny lot. We had only
gone a few blocks when we made a sharp turn to the right and
the trailer's right wheel jumped the curb and flipped over.
Luckily, we were only doing about ten miles per hour. The
trailer was unhurt but the entire load was scattered all
over the street.
With all the arms, legs and heads about, someone must have
called the police, the rescue squad and the ambulance.
Because in less than five minutes, there were a half dozen
ambulances, fire trucks and squad cars on the scene. By that
time, with about a dozen onlookers we had the trailer back
on its wheels and were picking up all the body parts. One of
the news reporters taking pictures said that at first
glance, it looked like a very serious wreck and kept on
popping flash bulbs. In less than half an hour we were on
our way again.
The next evening we got a copy of the Philly paper, showing
pictures of the turned over trailer and the body parts
scattered over 6th and Market Streets. The byline read
"Seeing is Deceiving, freak accident, etc, etc"
Well, in less than two weeks, Lou had his wax show and it
That was the biggest year we ever had, money wise. Before
the season ended, we had a twenty seven foot, self contained
Airstream all aluminum travel trailer and a heavy duty
International carryall with
two gas tanks to
pull it, plus ten grand.
To be Continued