They are a hardy breed, these men
and women who gathered the other night for the Northwestern
Showman Club's annual homecoming party at the Colonial Manor -
worthy heirs to the "Hey, Rube!" tradition of circus and
Few among the smartly dressed
crowd looked as if they ever had slept under a carnival wagon of
hammered a tent stake, but all are proud of their
outdoor-showman background. And most of them, at one time
or another, have joined gleefully in the free-for-all at the
call of, Hey, Rube!" the traditional distress signal whenever
there was trouble on the back lot.
DIRECT DESCENDANTS of the nomadic
tribe that followed the canvas "big top" and ole-time medicine
shows, these are the men and women who sell the cotton candy and
batter-hot dogs on a stick ("candy floss" and "pronto pups") and
operate the rides and concessions at amusement parks and county
Ever since early spring, they
have roamed the countryside from county fair to county fair or
manned the rides and concessions at expositions and centennial
Now, they are home for the
winter, time to shake the tanbark and sawdust from their shoes
and "cut up jackpots" (talk shop and share gossip) with their
outdoor-showmen cronies and friends.
More than 225 outdoor showmen and
their wives attended the homecoming party, always a big event on
the club's winter calendar. Gerry Crawshw, the club's
president came down from Vancouver, B. C.
Jerry Mackey, whose amusement
company owns the rides and concessions at the Seattle Center,
Jantzen Beach near Portland, and the Pacific National Exposition
at Vancouver, B.C., is the club's first vice president and
easily the biggest outdoor showman in the Pacific Northwest.
For the first time, however,
Mackey met his indoor counterpart, Zollie Volchok, at the party.
Volchok and his partner, Jack Engerman, owners of Northwest
Releasing Corp., book most of the road shows and entertainment
headliners for indoor shows throughout the Pacific Northwest and
Volchok, as president of Variety
Club International, was a guest at the Northwest Showmen's
homecoming party. So was Carl G Erlandson, city
comptroller, whose office collects the admissions tax at all
Volchok-promoted events, plus the tax on Mackey-owned rides at
the Seattle Center.
"AT LONG LAST," SAID BOLCHOK,
shaking hands with Erlandson. "I get to meet my silent
partner, the guy who has taken more money from Northwest
Releasing than either I or my partner. . ."
I also recognized Police
Inspector Lyle LaPointe, Lieut. Clay Bean, John Hoberg and
several other Seattle police officers and their wives, old
friends of the outdoor showmen ever since the 1962 World's Fair
when they had charge of policing the fairgrounds.
Also Mori Simon, the music
contractor and bass-fiddle player; Earl G. McCready, ex-Canadian
champion heavy-weight wrestler; B. C. Johnson, founder and
former chief barker of Variety Club's Seattle Tent, and former
circus fat ladies, Marie LeDoux and her Sister, Ruby Brown.
Frank Kirsch, who has spent more
than 50 years in outdoor-show business and remembers when small
circuses traveled in horse-drawn covered wagons, is the oldest
active member of the club. He is a past president of the
club, as are D.A. (Denver) Burtenshaw, Eunice Randolph, Billy
Aubin, George Hiscox, Wayne Endicott and R.R. (Bud) Dougals.
Seattle Times -
Nov 15th 1967
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