"Why? What's the Reason?"


About the time that I started to doze off, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, "move over." I turned to see who the hell it was. The moon was shinning bright and I saw that it was May. You can bet your sweet bippy that I didn't waste any time moving over!

All the carnies said that Fats would unload that broad in a couple of weeks and get another one. How wrong they were in their assumptions because for the next fifty three years of our lives, we were together! And what a life it was! The world was our oyster and we dined on it eagerly without a worry in the world.

I remember that three weeks later, we were in Scottsboro, Alabama, and I heard via the grapevine that the Feds had snatched a carny friend of mine on a Mann Act charge. That charge was for transporting a woman across the state line for immoral purposes and white slavery because he was shacked up with this broad and taking her from state to state. I figured the best thing for me to do was to get married.



In Alabama, all you needed to get married was a fin (five dollars) and a report from a crocker (doctor) that you didn't have a disease. The five bucks went to the judge in that county for performing the marriage and the license.

Well, that morning I had a sawbuck in my pocket to pay the doc but needed a fin to pay the judge. So, I borrowed a fin from May but she didn't know what for at the time. Then I went to the crocker and he checked my ding-a-ling. He saw it wasn't infected and signed a report that everything was "OK."

I paid him the sawbuck, went back to the lot and told May to get ready to go to town. She asked me, "Why? What's the reason?" I answered, "Because we're getting married today! Is that reason enough?"


She hugged me and started crying. A few minutes later I wiped the tears from her eyes, kissed her and then she looked up at me. With a slight smile, she grabbed my hand and said, "The hell with getting dressed! If shorts and a sweatshirt are good enough for you, it'll have to suit the judge. Let's go before you change your mind." That I wasn't about to do.

We had been married but a few weeks when Bob Nole joined the carny with his boxing and wrestling chimpanzees that challenged all comers and paid a dollar a minute to anyone who could stay in the arena with one of them.

Bob plastered the spots where he played with big placards in store windows and on telephone poles and abandoned buildings, saying in big letters, "WANTED-able bodied men to box or wrestle a sixty pound chimp. We pay a dollar a minute
for every minute that you stay in the arena."

Bob's chimps drew people from near and far. It was one of the funniest shows on the road, because of the shenanigans the chimps pulled.

Bob and his wife (also named Mae but spelled different than my wife), happened to have parents that had been in vaudeville years before. Just like mine, when the talkies came in and vaudeville faded, their folks took their acts outdoors to medicine shows, circuses and carnivals.
We became good friends. In the daytime before the carny opened, we used to sit around and tell stories about experiences that happened in the past. A lot of the stories were really funny.

At that time, Bob and Mae had just bought two baby gorillas, one named Tommy and the other named Tobie. In the daytime when the midway was closed, my May and Bob's Mae would sit in the chairs on the chair swing ride and nurse the baby gorillas.

They were treated and cared for just the same as human babies. They had to be nursed, pampered, loved, their diapers changed and scolded if they did something wrong and they loved to have you talk baby talk to them. While the gals sat and rocked the babies, Bob and I would cut up Jackpots (talk) about different things our folks did to shuffle a buck. Eventually, the conversation would get around to how he lost his fingers (he had two fingers off his right hand).

Bob would say, "Old Joe bit 'em off but it was my own fault. I should not have tried to work him that day, knowing Mae was having her period." All male animals, be it bears, chimps, orangutans, baboons and monkeys, if they're full grown, get unruly when they get a whiff of a woman who is having her period, or a female chimp that is in season.


"Well, I knew better but I decided to work him anyway. When I took him out of he cage to put on his muzzle, he turned on me and bit off my two fingers. But I still have 'em, give me a few minutes and I'll go to the trailer and get 'em and show'em to you." He would go to his trailer, get a small glass pickle jar with his two missing fingers in it, pickled in alcohol and show them to me.

To be Continued



Posted here courtesy of Midway Publications - Copyright 1999 William T. Usher All rights reserved


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