Circus Fan Says
Oddities are Pretty Normal People!
- Ever wanted to swallow fire or pull the bearded lady's whiskers? Or had
a friend who swallowed white mice for a living?
your name is Earl Jenkins, you have and you are on first-name acquaintance with
just about every circus oddity since P. T. Barnum first thought up the idea in
Jenkins of Mission Blvd., Pacific Beach, has been a warden in a Chinese prison,
a magician, a ventriloquist and more recently a vice president of a machine
supply company in Chicago.
Started 30 Years Ago
Thirty years ago, while kicking
around Hong Kong. Jenkins became friends with the manager of several
sideshows, who also did a mind-reading act.
The manager also "read" bottles
quite regularly and Jenkins offered to fill in for him on the days when he was
unable to perform, if the manager would teach him the act.
And so Jenkins was bitten
by the circus bug and the bite has led to a collection of 3,599 pictures of
circus oddities and lore.
Swallows White Mice
Jenkins doesn't see anything morbid
about his collection of two-bodied women, dog-faced boys and other oddities.
Most of them live fairly normal lives, he claims, and exhibit themselves because
they are well paid for it.
Jenkins hobby doesn't stop with the
pictures. He traces the history of each photo, carefully jotting down the
information in a notebook.
His collection also includes
artificial oddities - humans who-learn exotic stunts through control of their
"Waldo, a German chap, is a friend
of mine. "said Jenkings. He swallows three white mice, waits a few minutes and
then out comes the mice, alive and kicking, it's done by control of the
Fire eaters learn to control their
breathing by always exhaling when "Swallowing" fire, said Jenkins. And a
coating of alum and olive oil inside the mouth helps to protect the tissues.
Don't Call 'Em Freaks
"Geeks" are alcoholics who will do
anything for a bottle, Jenkins said, and Barnum's "Wild Man from Borneo" was a
slightly eccentric midget, who was originally a farmer in Connecticut.
Circ oddities they don't like to be
called freaks. Jenkins said, have been on the decline ever since Ringling
Bros., Barnum and Bailey circus stopped going out under canvas two years ago.
Modern medicine, too has-put a
certain crimp in things. No one has to run around with an extra arm of leg
unless he really wants to.
Government Steps In
In fact the government has had a
hand in discouraging the oddities, said Jenkins. A soldier, honorably
wounded in a was, could make a profitable living by doing such things as blowing
smoke out of his ears or back.
Now the government makes him stitch
up the wound and earn a living like anyone else.
(Texas) 14 March 1958
- By Dian McComb The
Copley News Services