If Only I Had Listened


by Charles Keeler


Texas Jack Ruback - Jack Ruback was a great showman with a big heart, you never saw him without his Stetson Hat. I remember him as always being old and weather beaten from the Texas Sun. I know there are many stories about Jack that can be told. He was a rough tough, Texas Carny. He always seemed to be cross, except with the ladies.  He knew how to work with the local authorities too. 


The first year after I was discharged from the Marine Corps I got my own game.  I ended the season with Jack Ruback’s Alamo Amusements at Jasper Texas.  I booked with Jack for the Battle of Flowers in San Antonio in the spring.  It was a bad spot and as I paid my privilege (rent), Jack asked me what I was going to do for the winter?  I told him I was going to play Louisiana all winter with a small Family show.  He told me never mind that and to get a regular job and take care of my family.


So naturally I went to Louisiana and lost all my money,  my trailer and everything else. Well I went to San Antonio and when I saw Jack I told him I should have listened to him. I told him how rough it had been. I asked about my location and he told me he needed a $50 dollar deposit.  He said, “after all this is a business”.  Now there were 3 separate carnivals played down on the main Streets of San Antonio.  Everybody was setting up all day and night. I ran around all day trying to borrow $50 and there was no way.  Every inch of space was used up and there was one 15 foot space in the middle of the block in front of the office.  Every time I went by I checked to see if any one was setting up there. Finally I went to the office about ready to cry. LOL.  I said "Jack, there’s no way I can get the money."  At that time rent was 12 dollars a foot,  I had 15 feet.  He said “next time you’ll listen to me”,  I’m doing this not for you but for your wife and three kids. I want to see you in my office every day with some rent. LOL.  He had given me that location before he started laying out the lot.


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