First of all, I want to wish everybody a very Happy 2020 with fair meetings taking place in many states and the season about to start in earnest at the South Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, Jan. 17-Feb. 2, and Manatee County Fair, Palmetto, Fla., Jan. 16-26.
The cycle begins again and sometimes the only thing that changes from year to year is the weather, which is a major determining factor in the success of any fair or carnival. Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows is raring to go at West Palm Beach, and Charles Panacek's Belle City Amusements gets the jump on them by one day at Palmetto.
Some very sad news happened in the last couple weeks with the passing of three very special people, Joe Royal, Spaghetti Eddie Porcelli, and J. H. Martin, former chairman of the Greater Baton Rouge, La. State Fair, and president of the Midwest Fairs Association. Shelby Royal, Joe's former wife, took care of him with as much loving care as possible, along with their son, Zack, to the end. I shared many happy times with Joe and his late dad, Danny Royal, who was known as one of the greatest patches of all time. Joe was very active in the formation of the Carnival Museum in Gibsonton, Fla., and was president of the International Independent Showmen's Association in 1998. Shelby held that role in 2006. Danny Royal was club president in 1986, what a colorful guy!
Joe was concession manager for the Portemont's All-American Shows and spent time as a concessionaire with Myers International Midways and Charles Panacek's Belle City Amusements. He was a gentle giant who always had a big smile on his face.
Spaghetti Eddie excelled in having special food promotions when I'd see him, mostly at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, and the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul. Cliff Barton, who succeeded Martin in Baton Rouge, said the effusive J. H. suffered leukemia last October, and the treatments didn't work. He would always make cracks, or comments, mostly good, about my columns. May they all rest in peace!
I received an e-mail from Sid Karmia of The Toy Factory, San Antonio, Texas, which said, “I enjoy your article each week and I don't know what we would do once you stopped. Keep up the great work young fellow, and I can't wait to read about your holiday experiences.”
In the past, Karmia, whose many clients include Candy Anderson, Joey Fowler, Michael Winchester, and a host of others, has predicted items that will be popular as prizes at midway games, most notably, in recent years, items from Despicable Me movies.
Another note came from Bill Blake, affectionately known as Bill Blank during the many years he was a manager on Ron and Bev Burback's Funtastic Shows in Portland, Oregon. “Happy New Year! I am planning a trip to the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, this fall. Could you get me the phone number of Dan Glosser (which I did)? By the way, the Love Bug at the State Fair of Texas is operated by Morey Haworth from the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I really like reading your columns. Keep up the good work. Thanks, Bill.”
Other than the late Monsignor Robert J. McCarthy, who conducted many tours of Europe that included trips to Oktoberfest, Cannsfest in Stuttgart, and other celebrations and historic churches, castles, and graveyards, I can't think of another guide who would be better than Glosser. He took care of me personally, showing me immediately the Chicken Shack where I met just about every showman in Germany, and to Roland and Renate Koch's parties at Kafer's, which are legendary.
On that note, Glosser also wrote, stating, “Damn I miss those wonderful days when we sat in the Josef Zierer booth during the IAAPA trade shows, drinking beer and cutting up international jackpots, etc., etc., etc. Oh well, at least we have memories. Reading what you wrote in On the Earie stimulates me even more.”
More or less retired from the business now, Glosser had asked OABA's Sue Gallup to send him a couple magazines where a picture of Danny and his son, John, had appeared. He wrote to her: “I sincerely appreciate your sending the two magazines and I will convey one to my son as Tom intended. They know each other from a few Super Bowls we attended when Tom was editor of AB and had access to tickets, suites, parties, and all the great amenities. It was before your time but he can elaborate if ever desired.” Dan said he would provide a limousine if he could get in on the action, and he did. Some of the highlights were attending parties hosted by Phil Blavat and Dennis Boese of Miller Beer, and by hotel magnate Barron Hilton and Alex Spanos, who owned the San Diego Chargers.
Glosser continued, “The year the OABA was formed I was very active in our industry, but time takes its toll and traveling is difficult for me now. I was born and raised in the carnival business, have been in every state in the USA, and more than 70 foreign countries, selling amusement rides after college. What a wonderful life! Tom and Christine and I enjoyed many great and productive times together. I get to see Guy and Charlene Leavitt's Ray Cammack Shows every year because the Orange County Fair (Costa Mesa, California) is 10 minutes from home.”
Glosser's mom, Kitty Glosser Shelby, and Dottie Marco of Conklin Shows of Canada, where Glosser was once in management, sold tickets at Showmen's League of America banquets for many years. Danny's stepfather, Hank Shelby, was executive director of SLA.
Speaking of drinking beer at the Zierer booth, I'll never forget the time the late Bill Lowery of Lowery Shows bemoaned the fact there was no place to find an alcoholic beverage at the trade shows. I took him to the Zierer booth, introduced him to Dieter Hopfner, Zierer, himself, Mike Pledl and Glosser, and we spent hours imbibing. Everybody learned something about each other while having a fun time. Bill Alter of National Ticket, and Rudolph Barth, who owned the only five looping coaster in the world, were always in on the action, as well. I think Lowery told his wife he had been shopping for rides that long afternoon.
Darrell Desgranges, the Mizuno Golf Pro, wrote that Running Bear's name is Lawrence Brawley. I had written that I didn't even know his full name. “He is currently in an assisted living facility in Ruskin, Florida. Bear is recovering from a back surgery gone bad that caused paralysis. Hope things are well for you and Christine. I talked to Duke Trombetti and he was complaining that it was 60 today at Boca Woods Country Club, where he is golf pro.” Trombetti is a former carnival owner. Desgranges added, “Meanwhile, here in Michigan it was 13 this morning.”
After receiving a press release from Bill Powell, chair of the Circus Ring of Fame Foundation, I asked if he were still working with the Felds and whether his wife was still with the Florida State Fair.
Powell replied, “I am still with Feld. My wife, Sherry, is Marketing Officer with the Florida Orchestra for the last 13 years. She left the fair industry and now is queen of performing arts. The Circus Ring of Fame is a great volunteer organization and I have been involved with them for the past six years.” As they say, time marches on.
Bev Burback has called several times to gloat about her Oregon Ducks beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Go, Ducks! They flew better than my beloved Philadelphia Eagles.
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Have all great days, and God Bless!