A Very Close secret, the Tomaini's
Kept for Eternity
Part 10 of the Judy Tomaini Rock
There was a lot of work to be done.
Clearing the land was the first. A pond was dug on the farthest
south end of the property. As there was a lot of fill work to do
to build the roads that ran through the property a permit was
purchased, to be able to dredge the little boat slip, and a one
room Bait shop was started.
They would have to go out on the road
for a while longer, since they had decided to build some little
fishermen's cottages. That way, people could come on vacations and
be close to the water to go fishing. That was the winter of 1939.
They had built their own Sideshow the
year before and had the longest front ever, at 150 feet, the
banner line alone
was two banners high. And the show tent matched it. They had the
best of the best performers. They were treated with respect, and
paid very well. As Al would say, these people are feeding us and
they are all good friends. They had most of the same people year
after year. And the Tomainis were very highly regarded as
exceptional people to work for. They treated the performers the
way they would like to be treated; fair and honest, and always
there to lend a helping hand.
While on the road that year, Jeanie
and Al realized the true reason for their marriage. She broke the
news to him, by saying, did he think they could get a little
larger trailer??? The little cross-eyed trailer only had one
bedroom, and the living room was taken up by Al's feet and legs.
And there wouldn't be enough room, for a bassinet. This was the
happiest day of their lives. And a trip to a doctor confirmed it.
She was due while they would be out on the road. But her act was
stopped that day. She just would sit on the stage and talk to the
people as they came through. Al was so excited about the new baby
that would come into their lives in a few short months.
The business was thriving back in
Florida, and the Circus they were on was always mobbed. People
didn't have much to do then, as the Circus coming to town, was the
biggest event of the year. So the lines formed early. The bally
area was mobbed. There were so many people, they were almost
fighting to get in the show. And even though the admission was
only .25 it really added up at the end of the day. And on the
inside of the tent, the performers were also able to sell their
pitch cards or post cards. And they kept the money from the sales.
Never had to pay a percentage to the house. They went home in the
winter with a good nest egg. They were happy to work on the
Tomaini's Sideshow because they were like a big family, and were
treated like everyone else. With the respect they deserved. They
never made the acts feel like the owner was above them, but equal
Jeanie was getting bigger every day.
Even though it didn't show much, she could feel the baby stirring
inside her. The camp and the Sideshow continued to prosper. Every
town they went to there were old friends that would come to visit.
Jeanie would work on her heavily beaded costumes while she sat on
the stage. All the sewing was done by hand. And some of the
costumes weighed as much as fifteen pounds. They were so
outstanding, she was asked to ride in Spec., the parade of
performers on Ringling Circus. That was the first time a Sideshow
performer did that. And it continued every time the show opened.
Jeanie had a very uneventful time
waiting for the baby to arrive. They set up and tore down, and
made the jumps on the road. And it all went smooth. Al was so
exhausted, by the time the last show was over, he would doze off
every time he sat down. They would be so glad when the season was
over and they could head home. The camp was coming along and a
couple cottages started to be built. There was enough coming in
from the restaurant and bait shop, there was enough left over to
start construction on the cottages. The plans had already been
gone over with the carpenter. So after a phone call to the
were given the go ahead to get the supplies and lumber to start on
the first three cottages. Al would call home every week and get a
rundown on how the place was doing. With a lot of luck, the first
three cottages would be finished by the time they came in from the
Business continued to be overwhelming.
Where were the people coming from??? Every show was packed, and
though the performers were making a lot off their pitch cards and
post cards, they were ready to go home too. The season was only
half over and the farther into the season they got, the longer the
lines at the ticket boxes. Jeanie was close to time to have the
baby. Al was doting on her more than ever. He was a nervous wreck,
you would have thought he was the one having it.
The time came to go to the hospital.
They knew exactly where to go, as that was the first thing Al
checked out when they would get to a new town. So there would be
no delay looking for it. She was in labor, but because of how
nervous Al was, she had learned to not get him to excited because
as big as he was, he would start demanding, someone to do
something to help her. And the size he was, it would scare people.
In 1941, having a baby usually happened at home, but it was safer
to go to a hospital if at all possible. Jeanie had noticed the
baby had slowed down kicking in the last few days and having never
had a baby, she thought it was just because it was getting close
to her due time. She was in labor for quite a while and Al was
pacing the halls. Fathers were not allowed in the delivery room,
which was good, as Al would have probably fainted anyway. The
birth was natural and Jeanie was awake the whole time. She never
saw the baby, as it was taken out of the room as soon as it was
born. There had been a problem. The cord was around the baby's
neck, and he was a stillborn. The nurses told her it was a perfect
little boy, with his Dad's black hair and a face like an angel,
which he now was. Jeanie always thought it may have happened
because of her act and that it was her fault. But it wasn't her
fault, nor was it Al's fault. A terrible accident that had no
The trip home was bittersweet. A part
of them was left behind. The cherished baby they had waited so
long for, was gone. And they were going back to the home that he
would never see. And in 1941, the dead babies were just disposed
of. So it was never known by anyone that he was born, or where he
was. That was a very close secret the Tomainis kept for
© 2004 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights
Published with the permission of Judy
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Sideshow World & their respective authors. Any republication in
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