Panel Trucks, Elephants & Balloons

by Charles Keeler


I remember in the spring of 1959 I was with Lloyd Surface Penn Premier Shows.  I had just started recently with my own joint and we were playing day and date with Christiani Brothers Circus in Lynchburg Virginia.

I had an old Ford panel truck with a 28 foot trailer in tow.  It was a 1948 Palace and it was very heavy.  We had a very long jump and got there at about four o'clock in the morning.  With everybody being so tired my wife, kids and I went in and went directly to bed.  About daylight a loud knocking on the door woke me up.  It was Mr. Christiani.  It seamed as though I had parked the panel truck and trailer right in the middle of where he wanted to set up the big top.  LOL.  He was very nice about it though.  When I went out to move the truck and trailer, low and behold the truck wouldn't start.  Mr. Christiani told me not to worry about it though.  A few minutes later he returned with an elephant and chain.  They hooked the elephant up to the truck and trailer and without any trouble at all he pulled me clear out of the way.  The elephant didn't even have to strain.

There was another time when I had a balloon dart game with a low counter so smaller kids could stand and throw the darts.  The only trouble was it was a temptation to sit on it.

Now in the old days on first class shows it was an unwritten law that you didn't sit on the counter.  You or anybody else.  Occasionally an elderly or disabled person may need to set for awhile.

In the late 60's I was playing with Amusements of America on a drizzly Thursday night at the Liberty Bell Race Track in Philadelphia, PA.  I was at the cookhouse and someone came and told me that Cassius Clay was playing my games.

I had two different games at that time on the Midway.  I went over and he had played a dollar at my basket game that was at 50 cents a game. He moved on to my balloon game and laid down a dollar.  He had this big entourage following him and he was doing his thing, you know posing and playing to the crowd.

My wife was working and she was twenty years older then me and not a bit bashful.  Cassius threw a dart and turned to the crowd and posed for them then sat right down on the counter.  Well that was a big mistake.  My wife ,who always works with a handful of darts reached over and stuck him in the keister with that handful full of darts.  Not to hard mind you but noticeable and she said "don't sit on the counter". He jumped up and said "oh, I'm sorry lady" and he was very nice about it.


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