When You See a Retiree,
You may think that he's no longer a necessity,
But every nursing home you see.
They say welcome to the retiree.

Well, I'm an elderly retiree, and with today's standard of operation I recon I'm no longer considered a necessity.

But back in the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties, I was definitely a necessity to the owners of the side shows on the midways of carnivals and fairs.

The reason? It was my job as talker (or barker) to induce the marks (people) to buy tickets to see the show.

Believe it or not, I got paid from ten to twenty percent of the gross just for beating my gums.

I remember the time I was the talker on Speedy Renal's Motor Drome, called the Wall of Death.

We were rehashing a little pumpkin fair in Pennsylvania. It was opening day and the midway was crowded with people. I was on the bally (the stage in front of the Drome), the riders were sitting on their motorcycles and racing their motors.

Larry, our trick and fancy rider, was on the rollers (a device like a treadmill) doing a few stunts, like standing on the seat, sitting with his feet on the handlebars, riding backward and standing on this head on the seat.

I was telling the marks about the show. "Ladies and gentlemen, at this time you are standing in front of the feature attraction of your fair, the Wall of Death." At this time the riders would stop their engines while I continued to make the pitch.

"This is where they race, ride and drive high geared, high speed racing motorcycles at speeds well over a mile a minute on a straight up and down board wall, jest as straight up and down as the walls of your living room at home." "What keeps them on the wall? Speed and gravity!"

"Have you ever put a marble in a bucket and swished the bucket round and round, and watched the marble go around on the inside wall of the bucket? The faster you swish, the higher the marble went. Well, the same thing happens inside, on the Wall of Death! The faster they go, the higher they get!"


To be Continued


Image William Fats Usher

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


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