"In many incidents while racing, one of the riders might
scrape the safety cable at the top of the drome. That is why
we ask you to please do not put your hands on the cable, and
don't be surprised if one of the riders goes over the top.
It does happen. This is where they face death at every turn
of the wheel!"
"Stop and think for a moment, my friends. What would happen
if a front tire was to blow out, or the chain was to break
and lock up the back wheel, or the handlebars were to work
"In here you can't pull off the side of the road and park.
There's only one place you can go, and that's down into the
"Pit of Death" at the bottom of the Drome!"
"I've seen it happen a few times, some to my sorrow."
"This being the opening day of the fair, we are featuring
Australian Criss-Cross racing, with not one or two riders on
the wall at the same time, but three, and believe me, they
won't be playing games. They will be shoveling on the coal,
trying to bring the bacon and eggs home to Mom and the
"On the racing card for today we have Bill Anderson, dirt
track specialist from Rome, Georgia, riding his souped up
Indian. Jack Newhart, ice racing champ from Fairbanks,
Alaska, riding an English Triant. Kenny Holsteen from Salt
Lake City, Utah, salt flat champion and runner-up for the
Holley Cup, riding a Harley and Bill Monroe out of Tucson,
Arizona, the fastest man on two wheels."
"I can assure you that the riders will be scraping the cable
at the top of the Drome as they criss-cross each other in
one of the deadliest races devised by man."
At that time the riders get off their bikes and go inside
the Drome. Inside they start their engines and let them
idle. Meanwhile, I make the last gig.
"We operate the same way here as they do at the Brickyard in
Indianapolis. The riders must qualify in time trials to
enter the big races. Our time trials will be starting in a
"My advice to you is, if you intend to see the time trials,
you better hurry. Now is the time to get your tickets and go
in, because if you wait, you'll have to stand on somebody's
shoulders to see the races, and I don't think the guy
underneath would appreciate it one bit."
All that time the riders revved up their motors, and with
straight exhaust pipes, the sound ricocheting off the walls
of the Drome sounds like a half dozen planes taking off.
"You better hurry, while the matinee prices are still on
sale, it's fifty cents for adults and twenty five for
children under twelve, children in arms admitted free."
At that time I happened to look up the midway and see a
blonde headed gal with a baby in her arms, and an old guy
with whiskers in bib overalls, toting a double barrel
shotgun, along side her.
Almost immediately I recognized her. She was the Mempha that
myself and one of the Imperial Chinese Jugglers (part of the
free acts) and one or two other carneys had banged the year
They were headed my way. Figuring what was up, I did a quick
exit off the back of the bally and ran around behind the
Drome to Speedy's house trailer, and knocked on the door.
Marge, Speedy's wife, came to the door. I explained what was
about to happen and she said, "Come on, I'll fix you up so
your mother won't be able to recognize you."
It so happened Speedy and Marge worked the off-Broadway
theaters in the winter months (when all carneys were closed)
as makeup artists.
After I went inside, she reached under the bed, pulled out a
makeup kit, opened it, and started making me over. In a few
minutes she handed me a mirror. I took a look at myself.
Sure enough, I don't think my mother would have been able to
recognize me. She had blackened my hair and my eyebrows with
spirit gum. She glued a beard and mustache on me, then gave
me a pair of specks to put on. As I put on the specks, a
knock sounded on the door.
I opened it and it was speedy. Next to him was the gal with
the baby in her arms and the old geezer with the whiskers
and scattergun, backed up by two dudes with baseball bats.
Speedy recognized me at once and with a grin on his face
said, "You all ain't seen Bill, that talker of mine around
here, have you? This lady says he's the father of her baby."
Right away I said, "Yeah, he was here about ten minutes ago.
Put all his belongings in his car and took off. Said he was
going to New Mexico to his wife and kids."
I wanted to see what the baby looked like, so I stepped out
the door, took a few steps over to the gal and looked down
at the baby and saw that it had slant eyes.
Knowing there was no way the punk could have been mine
(unless there was a skeleton in the closet I didn't know
about), I breathed a sigh of relief. At that time, the gal
started to cry and said, "Daddy, what are we gonna do now?"
I said, "Lady, the best advice I can give you is to start
looking for the Imperial Chinese jugglers, or start building
a hand laundry." Well, they left, and that was the last time
we ever saw them.
To be Continued