One of the longest operating
Grind Show entrepreneurs still around is Bobby Brooks and
his Attractions Unlimited. After 30 years in the
business, Brooks is still actively traveling the country
with his string of Single-O's, and according to him, each
year just gets better and better.
Based out of Key Largo, Florida, Brooks entered the
carnival business as an owner/ operator of concessions,
games, and rides, but has for many years relied strictly on
Side Shows and Grinders (six in total) as his sole source of
He believes in the hop-scotch method of booking dates
(playing selected dates on several different carnivals
throughout the season) and splits the shows off to different
spots as he sees best.
He carries a complete tool truck and a staff of ten people.
"My stuff isn't new," he says (one attraction, the Horror
Museum, is 21 years old!). "But, it's in first-class shape.
My shows have always been family oriented, and all give
exactly what they promise."
"That's the key. Lots of shows say one thing and show
another. Word gets around that it's a rip-off, and then
everybody's unhappy. I'm giving people now what I've given
them all my life - the best shows I can give."2
Brooks believes that his shows move an estimated 50 people
through an hour, and on a good day as many as 100. He said
he was happy to do 200 a day.
His shows include a Drug Abuse show, a Giant Rat (Capy Bara)
called "Big John", a Horror Museum, Headless, and Spidora.
Bobby Brooks guesstimated that his 1991 expenses would to be
around 15% of his take and the general upkeep each year for
all of the shows is around $5,000, except new show front
paintings which are done every few years at a cost of about
$1,000 per show. Each attraction gets 75 cents a head and
the customers seem happy to pay it.
2 Amusement Business July 1991
Bobby Brooks BIG JOHN - THE GIANT RAT Show.
"Also, if I've learned one thing these last 29 years, it's
that you've got to do it all yourself," he remarked. "I
build, paint, operate, repair, clean, and oversee everything
myself. If you can't be there by your shows at all times,
there's no use having them. They just won't run as well as
CAPT. HARVEY LEE
Capt. Harvey Lee Boswell (so-called for his active
military service in the Merchant Marines, where he suffered
an accident that has left him in a wheelchair for forty
years) has been around the carnival community for more years
than anyone can remember. His best known attraction is his
Palace of Wonders Museum, which features wood and plaster
replicas of famous Side Show freaks, pickled specimens and
the banners lining his top are the work of Fred G. Johnson
(and may be worth more than the exhibits inside the tent!).
Boswell and his partner, D.C. Collins, have been known to
exhibit some of the world's most bizarre oddities, including
dissected human heads and Grave Jelly, a gooey substance
that forms as a residue inside the casket as the body
decomposes. Placed putrefied in a jar, it makes for a very
revolting exhibit. The Captain has displayed the mummies of
Marie O'Day and Gold-Tooth Jimmy, a member of the Purple
Gang as well as Rob Bob, Boswell's most famous punk.
Rob Bob has two heads,
four arms, and three legs, and is said to be one of largest
He framed a Grind Show around the Frog Baby, another pickled
specimen, and even removed it from the jar once to pose for
a photo. Boswell held it in his hands, dressing himself as a
For a man confined to a wheelchair, Capt. Harvey Lee Boswell
has certainly gotten around!