Pt 1



One of the longest operating Grind Show entrepreneurs still around is Bobby Brooks and his Attractions   Unlimited. After 30 years in the business, Brooks is still actively traveling the country with his string of Single-O's, and according to him, each year just gets better and better.

Based out of Key Largo,  Florida,  Brooks  entered  the carnival business as an owner/ operator of concessions, games, and rides, but has for many years relied strictly on Side Shows and Grinders (six in total) as his sole source of revenue.

He believes in the hop-scotch method of booking dates (playing selected dates on several different carnivals throughout the season) and splits the shows off to different spots as he sees best.

He carries a complete tool truck and a staff of ten people. "My stuff isn't new," he says (one attraction, the Horror Museum, is 21 years old!). "But, it's in first-class shape. My shows have always been family oriented, and all give exactly what they promise."

"That's the key. Lots of shows say one thing and show another. Word gets around that it's a rip-off, and then everybody's unhappy. I'm giving people now what I've given them all my life - the best shows I can give."2

Brooks believes that his shows move an estimated 50 people through an hour, and on a good day as many as 100. He said he was happy to do 200 a day.

His shows include a Drug Abuse show, a Giant Rat (Capy Bara) called "Big John", a  Horror  Museum, Headless, and Spidora.

Bobby Brooks guesstimated that his 1991 expenses would to be around 15% of his take and the general upkeep each year for all of the shows is around $5,000, except new show front paintings which are done every few years at a cost of about $1,000 per show. Each attraction gets 75 cents a head and the customers seem happy to pay it.

2  Amusement Business July  1991

                               Bobby Brooks BIG JOHN - THE GIANT RAT Show.


"Also, if I've learned one thing these last 29 years, it's that you've got to do it all yourself," he remarked. "I build, paint, operate, repair, clean, and oversee everything myself. If you can't be there by your shows at all times, there's no use having them. They just won't run as well as they should."3



Capt. Harvey Lee Boswell (so-called for his active military service in the Merchant Marines, where he suffered an accident that has left him in a wheelchair for forty years) has been around the carnival community for more years than anyone can remember. His best known attraction is his Palace of Wonders Museum, which features wood and plaster replicas of famous Side Show freaks, pickled specimens and other oddities.


Many of the banners lining his top are the work of Fred G. Johnson (and may be worth more than the exhibits inside the tent!). Boswell and his partner, D.C. Collins, have been known to exhibit some of the world's most bizarre oddities, including dissected human heads and Grave Jelly, a gooey substance that forms as a residue inside the casket as the body decomposes. Placed putrefied in a jar, it makes for a very revolting exhibit. The Captain has displayed the mummies of Marie O'Day and Gold-Tooth Jimmy, a member of the Purple Gang as well as Rob Bob, Boswell's most famous punk.

Rob Bob has two heads, four arms, and three legs, and is said to be one of largest punks around!

He framed a Grind Show around the Frog Baby, another pickled specimen, and even removed it from the jar once to pose for a photo. Boswell held it in his hands, dressing himself as a doctor.

For a man confined to a wheelchair, Capt. Harvey Lee Boswell has certainly gotten around!


All stories are copyrighted Fred Olen Ray and posted here with his express permission,


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