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The First Time I Met Pete

 

It has been fifty years since Pete joined the show.  He is from Breckenridge, Minnesota and was twenty four years old when we played his home town at the county fair.  It's a small county fair held in the City Park each year.  The park is located right downtown in Breckenridge.

I had seen Pete on the main street in town.  As I remember we had arrived a day or two before the fair had opened. I had this girl working for me as my boss canvasman at that time. Her name was Jerry Burk. Jerry was always one of those people full of fun and "BS".  She asked me if I had seen "that dwarf up there in town", I told her "yes I saw him."  She then asked me if I wanted her to go and promote him? I said "oh sure go ahead", I figured she was just full of bull.  Well in about an hour here she comes with Pete!

Jerry said "let me introduced you to Pete Terhurne.  He wants to join the show." I talked to him for a little while and said "ok why don't we do this, because your from this town why don't we put you in clown make up so that everybody doesn't recognize you in this small town." So we put him in clown makeup and he became our ticket taker. But we didn't fool anyone, everybody came up and as they handed him their ticket they patted him on the head and said "hello Pete see you're working with the fair this week."

From Breckenridge we had a long jump, we jumped almost a thousand
miles from Minnesota down to Springfield, Missouri.  Pete worked for us for that week also. Then we jumped from Springfield back up to forty miles North of Breckenridge to Fargo, North Dakota. Well Pete had a sister who lived in Fargo so Pete told his mother that he wanted to go up and spend a week with his sister. He knew we were going to be at the fair when he asked his mother. His mother told him it was ok.  So Pete went up to stay with his sister Audrey in Fargo. Sure enough when we pulled onto the lot hereís sister Audrey with little Pete.  He wanted to go to work, I told him "ok sure."

Before the week was over we were going from Fargo to Huron, South Dakota and he said he would like to stay with the show. We had to go through Breckenridge to get to Huron.  I told Pete that when we got to town we would stop so I could talk to his mother. When we arrived in Breckenridge I stopped by and talked to Gladys.  She said "ok when the week's up just put him on the bus and send him home."  I told her I would. About halfway through the state fair in Huron Pete came to me and told me he didn't want to go back home, he just wanted to stay with the show. I told him if he wanted to stay with the show it would be fine, after all he was twenty four years old, so he stayed with the show.

Our next stop was in Spencer, Iowa.  About the second day we were there here comes the Sheriff. He asked me if we had a little fellow there by the name of Pete Terhurne? I told him "yes thatís him right over there."  He said he wanted to talk with him so I said "sure go ahead."  So he went over and started talking to him. I didn't interfere.  After a couple of minutes he came back and I asked him if there was a problem. He said no. He told me that his mother was concerned about him and she had asked him to come out to the fair and check on him to see if he was alright. She wanted to make sure he wasn't being held against his will. Pete told him that he liked the show and wanted to stay with it. The Sheriff told me that he was going to call his mother and she would be relieved. I told him that it was ok and to tell her he will be coming home at the end of the season.

We closed that season in Anniston, Alabama.  I remember that we went out to one of the smaller areas around Anniston, it was call Oxford. That's where we put our equipment in storage for the winter. We had something we wanted to do so we stayed over for a few days because The Ringling Brothers Circus was still under canvas then, so we went to Anniston to see the show and visit.  After the show we went to Birmingham where I put Pete on a plane and sent him home, that was in 1954.

In 1955 we waited until we got up into Michigan in the spring then we sent for Pete and he came and joined the show. At the end of that season we wintered in Miami and Pete stayed with us. He also stayed with us for the season and winter of 1956.

Then he went home for a visit in 1957 and would go home for visits occasionally after that. Pete flew home when his mother died, and returned again for his fathers funeral.  That was the last time he went up there. His sister moved to Minneapolis and he would go up and stay for a week or two with her in the winter. From then on he would just stay with us, and that's how it's been for the last fifty years.

 

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