A Very Close secret, the Tomaini's Kept for Eternity

Part 10 of the Judy Tomaini Rock Series

 

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 to them.

 

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 caretakers, they 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 road.

 

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 explanation.

 

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 eternity...

 

2004 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

Published with the permission of Judy Tomaini Rock

 

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