Bally To The Blowoff

by Slim Price

 

Coney Island Sideshow, my God! I just spent some time remembering our whole show in the 50’s and today it sounds like a fantasy. Sadly, only a couple of us are still alive, but if there is a sideshow heaven, that’s where I want to go.

 

To the best of my memory, these people were all on our show at the same time. 

 

On the Bally there was Kokomo The Mule Faced Boy, an African drummer whose name I never knew, but from the sound he made (orally) we all called him “Geezadeetch.” Then there was Margie White, a Spanish Dancer who used to stop traffic on Surf Avenue when she danced. There was me, with a very bad fire-eating routine and then Eddie Flowers, a dancer who was our stick.  We also had two talkers.  One was named Justin Wagner, a skinny man who never looked down at the tip, and Milton Levine, with a gravel voice. He used to get drunk and make passes at Edith. Edith was the ticket taker and the epitome of a Brooklyn mother!

Inside there was Shumpert Eko, with swords and neon.  Dewise Purdon, the Armless Wonder. Joanna The Bear Girl and Alzoria The Turtle Girl, and their handler, a woman named Carrie who sang as Aunt Jemima. Bobby Reynolds was the magician, who also worked the Dynamo Act, usually with an audience kid. Reynolds also pitched punch whistles, and worked the blade box. There was Bob Melvin The Two Faced Man, and to wrap the whole thing up, Frank Lentini The Man With Three Legs. 

 

In the blow-off either Pearl The Mystery Girl, (no arms or legs) or Albert-Alberta The Half and Half. Once in a while I was the “Snake Handler.”  Also for the bally, we had an occasional “Mechanical Man” The one I remember was Art Dorn, well known in movies for being a “Frankenstein Monster” whose make-up weighed a little more than ten pounds. 

 

It’s hard today to realize the whole show cost just two bits. 

 

There was also Princess Margie.  Frances Schmieser, her handler, was very protective, and except during Margie’s appearances kept her hidden, even from us. Margie’s bally was that she was 26 inches, weighed 26 pounds, and was 26 years old. Part of the bally was that the talker would show one of her shoes, very tiny of course, that “Had to be specially made and cost more than three hundred dollars!” On the bally there was a papier-mâchè figurine, supposedly of her, in an elegant gown. Usually this had to be sloughed before Margie left the show, often in an elegant fur coat. For some reason, I remember this was a bitter cold late-season night. At any rate, on this night someone failed to hide the figure, and Margie uttered the only words I ever heard her say, “THAT'S NOT ME!” at the top of her tiny voice.

 

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