The First Year I Was On The Circus

The first year I was on the circus I decided I wanted to become a ventriloquist.  I ordered my first figure from a wood carver in Los Angles by the name of Turner.  It cost me an entire weekís salary of thirty five dollars.  Actually it was more than a weeks salary, anyway it cost me thirty five dollars.  Between the time I ordered the figure and the time it arrived a guy by the name of Jean Merser joined the show.  He was a ventriloquist and doing the vent act.  So when the figure arrived I took it and showed it to Jean, he said "that is beautiful, what did you pay for it?"  I told him thirty five dollars; he said "Iíll give you thirty five dollars for it right now."  I said "I donít want to sell it I want to use it", he asked me "do you know how to do the act?"  I havenít got the slightest idea; he  said "I will tell you what Iím going to do.  If you will sell me that figure for thirty five dollars I will give you my figure, which was actually a better figure and I will teach you how to do the ventriloquist act."  I said "OK fine", about two weeks later Jean came to me and said "Ward Iím going to leave the show.  I donít expect to ever do vent again, so if you want to buy the figure back you can have it back for thirty five dollars."  So now I had for a thirty five dollar investment,  two figures plus I had learned to do the act which I did for forty years.  That was one case that same year; no it was the next year that Floyd Arnold the musical rude, he played music on whiskey bottles like a xylophone he also played the musical saw.  He taught me how to do those acts.

The next winter I was with a tent show, we played three days stints that mean we had to play a different show each night.  One night I would do the ventriloquist act, another night I would do the musical act and then on the third night I would eat fire. 

This was also during the first year I was on the circus and before I learned the Vent.  ďAmerico the anatomical wonder the man who could collapse his stomach to such an extent that you see the front side of his back bone through the skin the that normally covers his abdomenĒ. He was kind of a crotchety old man, he was very old.  On that show which was a very big circus that year it was on twenty cars, twenty rail road cars.  One reason that they would have such a big show on so few cars because nobody except for the department head got a birth by themselves on the train. Usually they didnít have a birth by themselves because most of them were married.  They doubled everybody else up.  My birth mate for about the first half of the season was Americo the old anatomical wonder and then he left the show.  After he left the show that's when Jean Mercer the ventriloquist, the musical rube and the man who became my partner Harry Leonard all joined the show, Harry did knife throwing and Punch and Judy.

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