Did You Pay??

by Pete Kolozsy

 

I met Grady Stiles once when I was about nine (roughly a hundred years ago;. My folks had their show set up on the same midway as Stiles and being a kid I had to check out everything on the midway. 

The ticket seller waved me in when I said "I'm with the show".


Mr. Stiles was seated in a wheelchair as I recall and he and I were the only two in the tent. He appeared to be sober. After a short silence we talked and I told him my dad owned one of the shows on the midway. He asked who my dad was. I told him and he seemed to know who I meant.  That was it. I left with the impression that he was no better or worse than a hundred different old carny's I'd met in my life so far.  I still have that impression today.


The one person who made the biggest impression on me in that same time period was Johann Petursson.  The Icelandic Giant. I entered his show tent for the first time the same way ( "I'm with the show").


Once again he and I were the only two in the tent. Mr. Petursson and my father were good friends and he recognized me.  I was unaware of this. He asked me "Did you pay?" I mumbled something about being with the show.  

He evidently could not make out what I was saying because he repeated a little louder "Did you pay?!" At this point I was starting to tremble ( I was 9 years old ) because I had the impression that he was angry because I had not paid.

 

Finally, he stood up (the man was nearly nine feet tall!) and literally bellowed " DID YOU PAY!!!?"


I squeaked out a "No!" as loud as I could without peeing myself.


"Good! Come here." he said and sat down.


When I came up to him he took a gold ring off his finger and gave it to me. I could have worn it for a bracelet! "Come back again," He commanded."  and never pay!"


Over the years I did just that.  Many times.---


                                      
Photograph of Grady Stiles submitted by Ratt's Freakshow

 

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