A 40 Milers Tale
Pretty, Blonde and innocent.
A girl of only seventeen.
I ran off to join the show. It was an adventure, and I
fell for a motor drome thrill show rider who looked like a
The old timers all called me a forty miler. (a local who
gets forty miles down the road, and then runs home
Not this kid.
I passed through the gauntlets of fetchin lightbulb grease
and left handed wrenches.
I searched for the key to the midway.
IzI Lizearned Tizo Spizeak Cizarny.
(I learned to speak carney)
I worked the Bally stage of The Hall and Christ Ten in one
Sideshow as Houdini's great granddaughter, "the snake
charming escape artist."
Once, a big fight broke out in the area behind the bally
stage. All the performers jumped into the frey. There were
twenty or thirty locals duking it out with the men from
What a scene! The knife thrower and sword swallower, and
all the other guys in their sequined show outfits fighting
like true swashbuckelers!
Someone shouted "Hey Rube!!!" (The signal for all to come
to their aid)
The fight got bigger and bigger.
I was watching from above, tied to a cross on the bally
stage with a ten foot python named Oscar, wrapped around
Then, the owner of the show, a little old man in a white
suit and hat, came up on the stage, took the snake, yelled
at the top of his lungs, and threw poor Oscar into the
It was like oil and water! The crowd parted as if Moses
himself had commanded it.
End of fight.
Mr. Hall then instructed me in the art of caring for our
hero...Oscar the python. He suffered a black eye and a cut
I pampered and nurtured him back to health over the course
of several weeks.
I became the snake girl, the gorilla girl, the girl who
gets cut into pieces, and I even stood for the drunken
I became friends with the sideshow people, and learned
a lot about life from my able bodied pals.
I was tricked into driving the fat man to Texas, and my
poor car never quite recovered from the strain.
I learned the customs and the cons, and the loyalty of
We lived like kings when the sun would shine, and we
pooled our change for bologna and bread in the rain and
I wintered in Gib-Town (Gibsonton Florida...carney town
I apprenticed under a showpainter named Butch of Wanderin
Art. I learned from Johnny Meah, and Bill Browning and The
I started hop scotchin the shows as Sunshine Art...Showpainter.
I have a thousand stories of those years, and I cherish
I'm a writer now. Living the life of a townie, up north.
So, to all of you who I met along the way....
I remember you fondly, and I still feel the calling of the
sawdust in my veins.
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