Bill Cole -
Estelline Pike - Patricia Zerm
Bill Cole from Buffalo, New York,
was the opposite of Emmett, wanting to see everything and meet
everyone. Bill had his legs cut off immediately below the hips
in a railroad accident. He walked on his hands and performed on
horizontal bars. Bill was in his fifties when he found his way
to being a sideshow attraction. As soon as we reached the next
town, Bill would take off on sightseeing excursions.
Riding to lines end on every city bus, sampling food in many
restaurants, all the while getting acquainted with new people.
With us many years before he passed away with a heart attack,
Bill truly had a multitude of friends nationwide.
Sword swallowing is an art to be learned. Performing for years
at Hubert's was Estelline Pike, who each Spring would move from
Hubert's to Madison Square Gardens for the Ringling New York
then returning to 42nd Street for the remainder of the year,
enjoyed authoring children's books.
Patricia Zerm was a class act. She graced the stage in beautiful
gowns, working to music, without speaking, she held the audience
spellbound as she swallowed a lit neon tube. With lights dimmed,
one could see the light of the neon glowing in her throat.
She had been a Ringling feature for many years. By the time she
joined us she was a widow. She lived in a unloaded baggage
trailer, in which, with only a two burner hot plate, she
dinners. Even on the
hottest days. We never ate so well on the road as when Pat
cooked for us all.
She was working in our show at Ringling Brothers Circus World
Park in Florida when her sixty-fifth birthday approached. She
announced she would retire on that September first.
I didn't take her seriously, since she was always making fun. I
should have. Not only did she retire, she sold her house in
Gibsonton and lived out her remaining days in the Baptist
Retirement Home in Tampa, never venturing near a show again.
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©1991-2008 Ward Hall,
all rights reserved. The stories and images are
excepts for Ward Hall's book My Very Unusual Friends.
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