Harry Leonard was
not an oddity, or even unusual, but I must include him in these
memories, since he was an important part of my life, and spent
most of his life performing in sideshows. Prom his home in
Sheboygan, Wisconsin, he became a medicine show performer at age
twenty. When he was twenty-two, he became a performer with a
circus from his hometown. He played in the band, performed on
the trapeze, but it was his skill at knife throwing that became
his mainstay. On that circus he married and incorporated his
wife into the impalement act as the target.
During the mid nineteen thirties depression years, many circuses
failed. At that time they joined the Johnny Bejano sideshow on a
carnival, where they worked for ten years.
During that time Harry became widowed, when Johnny Bejano died,
Harry joined the circus I was with. We formed a partnership
lasting nearly nineteen years, until his death. For sixteen of
those years we operated sideshows and were friends with many of
these unusual people written of in this book. Harry continued
doing the knife throwing act his entire life. Often I was human
target in the knife throwing act. In this type of act, there are
occasional mishaps. On our opening night with the All American
Circus in Oxford, Alabama, I miscalculated a move and received a
small cut on the face. My aunt read of it in a trade journal and
suggested that I should cease such dangerous endeavor. I didn't
quit working in the act, but anytime there was a mishap Harry
would eliminate that particular stunt from the act. Over the
years the act got shorter and shorter.
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