The Day She Hung The Little Giant, in a Tree.

Part 16 of the Judy Tomaini Rock Series

 

Mickey was a sweet little boy, and though he was so deep, there was the recognition, of the family that loved him. He called Jeanie and Al, Mama and Daddy. And the world around him was a little brighter. He would at times, slip back into the web, of his tiny past, and there would be nightmares, that could only be soothed by Mama. The nightmares were every night in the beginning, but now, at least a month or so apart. He had made so much progress, the doctor could hardly believe, it was the same child. When he came to their home, he had a very bad diaper rash. So bad it left scars on his tiny body. When it healed, he wasn't nearly as cranky as he had been.


Back out on the road again. Their Sideshow was the biggest and the best. Other show owners would come to the lot, to pick Al's brain. He had such a knack, for putting shows together, that made money, and freely gave suggestions, when they would bring plans for a new show to him. Al never worried about another showman being a problem, he unlike some others, valued friendship, much more than money. There was more than enough money around, that he never worried about how much he would lose, if he helped someone get started in the business. Those were the good old days. When people helped other people. If you passed someone on the road that broke down, it was common courtesy, to stop and offer help. There were no cell phones back then, and if help wasn't offered, you were stuck. Flat tires, were the most common break downs. And when the show moved, there were most likely many trucks and cars, since the sideshow all moved in a caravan, if someone did have a problem, there were co-workers right there to help. The Tomaini's had the largest living trailer, since there were four in the family now. And it was a very well built one, but really heavy, to pull through the mountains. Since they pulled it with the family car.


Jerry Havens, who went to work for the Tomaini's when she was 15, was the picture taker in our family. The tons of photographs we have, were mostly taken by her. She was with them on the road, and would stay in the spare bed room, when they got home, so Al could keep an eye on her. She was a wild one, but so sweet. Just always had to out do the men. She drove the semi over the road, and usually went too fast. She had been told by Al, if she didn't slow it down, he was going to let one of the guys drive it. That was, more than enough reason, to slow down. Their Semi was called the "Little Giant", which was painted on the doors. Al had the truck for years, he had bought it in Long Branch, from the time he started his own show. And everything had it's place. If packed right, the whole show would fit. But make a mistake, with one crate not in the right place, the whole load would be off. And the extra crates, would have to be carried to the next town in the small bus that hauled the performers. The few times that happened, they were not very happy campers, as they would have to cram them in the back, and the room they took up, made the bus riders, have to almost sit on each other. You can be sure, it got packed right the next time.


The show lot was in good shape, as they would have good ground under the wheels, when spotting the show. The center joints and rides, were already pulled in and ready to set up. Some lots were full of loose sand, and when it rained, it turned to mud. Everything was going so well, they were surprised. So they could enjoy the couple of days they had, to wait for the show. Jeanie got the kids fed, and cooked Al's breakfast, while he started to read the local paper. Just as he opened the front page, was a photo of the "Little Giant", hanging from a tree, on the down side of a mountain cliff. Just as he saw it, a knock came on the door of the trailer. A man with a telegram stood there. Al opened it, and it was from Jerry, telling him what had happened. She and the other help, were ok, just a few bumps and bruises, but the whole semi and the show, were hanging in a tree, on the side of a mountain. Al had to leave Jeanie and the kids, there on the lot, and go back, to try to save the truck and trailer. God had to be driving with Jerry that day, as she walked away from a wreck, that should have taken her life, along with the other help that was riding with her. And the show that was packed in the truck. But when the truck was retrieved, by using wreckers and cranes, there wasn't even a punk jar broken. Al always had wood crates, that he had made himself, that the life show was packed into, so it would not be damaged, when moving over the road. It was banged up bad, but the semi still ran, and the trailer was intact, with no damage to the inside cargo. The show opened on time. And she hasn't never lived down, the day she hung the Little Giant, in a tree.


The rest of the season went well, and Jerry was razzed the whole time. But the tongue lashing she got from Al, wasn't a bit funny. She surely learned a few more Italian words that day. Along with anyone else, within a half mile...


Every thing back in Gibsonton was fine too. The camp was so busy, that Al would have to keep all the help on, to free up some that had specific jobs there. The boats always got the bottoms scraped, and any cracks calked, and with so many, there were always a few on shore, having work done. That was when they would be scraped, and painted, and re-lettered before putting them back in the water. There was always a sign painter on the payroll, and caretakers for the motel. There was a grounds keeper, and carpenter. So Al wouldn't have to go hire anyone, and not know what he was getting. He hand picked his help, even away from the Sideshow. The Giant's Camp, was like a small city itself. You could sleep, shower, eat, fish, build a show or just cut up jackpots, and down a few beers with the other help, when everything shut down for the night. There would be huge fish fry's. And always a big get together for the residents, and families. We were like a family, a huge extended one. Short, Tall, Black or White, Skinny or Fat. The Tomaini's loved them all. And they loved the Tomaini's.


Jeanie was always happy to come back home. It was like camping with two kids and a dog in the trailer. There was plenty of room at the camp. Mickey was very passive, and could fit in anywhere, he could sit and play with a wooden spoon, and a box, for hours. Sometimes, he would just go under the table, and go to sleep. That would take a search party to find him. The family finally noticed, he had just a few places he would hide, in a secure place, for a confused little boy.


Judy on the other hand, always wanted her bed, when it got dark. Or she got mad, or got in trouble, or was sick, real or imaginary.  And every night, when she went to bed, the dark stillness, would be broken by,  "Daddy, is there any bears under my bed"?   And from the other bed room, "Nope Twerpy, none there."     "Ok,  goodnight"...

 

2004 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

Published with the permission of Judy Tomaini Rock

 

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