Marie LeDoux


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 carnival.


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 fairs.


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 celebrations.


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 Western Canada.


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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