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  • Thu, June 20, 2019 4:23 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    Oppose ban on all reptile, amphibian, and mammal species which are non-native to the U.S.

    Many thanks to USARK for the call to action on their website.

  • Wed, June 12, 2019 10:31 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    I usually make a phone call to Tony Diaz of North American Midway Entertainment this time of year to check on the show's opening date in Canada, the June 5-9 Brandon, Manitoba, Summer Fair, but on this occasion the tone was more somber, as I had just learned about the death of Diaz's mother, Mary Jane. 

                They say things like this happen in threes, and if that's true, Kenny Detty passed away from a heart attack shortly after I interviewed him after Memorial Day. Then I learned about the passing of Reverend Ruth Turton, 87, whose late husband, Reverend Ron Turton, was The Heavenly Patch.

    Diaz was already at the show's next spot, the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg, scheduled for June 14-23, where Garth Rogerson has been CEO for 11 years. Tony said his sister, Trudie Andrews had flown to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where Mary Jane, 83, had been living, to have her body moved to Tampa. The funeral is tentatively set for Saturday, June 15 at Showmen's Rest in Tampa. Mary Jane was a longtime member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Greater Tampa Showmen's Association.

                Mary Jane and her late husband, Tony, were married in 1955. They spent the time between 1955 and 1960 on Carl and Egle Sedlmayr's Royal American Shows, where Tony Sr. was a games operator. Tony Jr., 57, was born at the Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, which was one of the carnival's biggest spots.

                The Diazes then spent several years with Sonny Myers Amusements. Myers had been the sheriff of St. Joseph, Mo., and was the brother-in-law of Bill Dillard. After that they were on Bill Dillard Shows, before joining Gehrie and Norma Aten with their games on Bill Hames Shows. At the time of his death, Tony Sr. had joined his son with Mike Williams on Farrow Shows. It was always a pleasure for me to see both Tonys at spots such as the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, as Tony Jr. had the savvy to know who I'd want to take a picture of for Amusement Business, in other words, regulars who traveled with the show, not locals who just came in to work one spot. He kept me from wasting a lot of time.

                After he became a vice president with NAME, Diaz remained one of the most cooperative, and easiest guys to interview for a story. He doesn't embellish what he says, and always points out the key people who help move the show. That includes Wayne Kunz, John Anderson, Scooter Korek, and Michael Hupalo, the safety inspector, who invited me to his wedding in Gibtown before I even knew him.

                “Life is a lot easier and happier when you find yourself working on a daily basis with people like that.” What a great group of guys. Anybody who knows Wayne Kunz will tell you he looks as though he could still play football like Bo Jackson or The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas. I first met Wayne at a date in Louisiana, I believe it was Metairie, and he was working for his dad, Al, the guy who kicked 60 Minutes off his lot. Wayne spent many years with Jim Murphy on Mighty Blue Grass Shows, before joining NAME. In his 80s, and looking fit as a fiddle, he has earned the reputation of being one of the hardest working guys in the carnival business, one of the nicest, as well. I can vouch for both traits.

                While with his dad's Century 21 Shows, I visited Wayne at the Millington Naval Base near Memphis. He kept asking me what looked different about him. I guessed he had lost weight, gained weight, and everything but what the real answer was. He was wearing a wig. After my reaction, I don't believe he ever did again, although his was better than that of the Grand Ole Opry's Hank Snow, hideous.

                Mary Jane maintained a close friendship with many carnival people, most notably, Marilyn Portemont, after both got off the road. Of Brandon, Diaz said it was okay except for Saturday, which is normally the biggest day, when it was cold and wet. After a strong Miami-Dade County Fair, he's optimistic.

                I couldn't believe it when I received phone calls from Joel Golder who owns Palace Playland Amusement Park in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and Tom Gaylin of Rosedale Attractions and Shows of Baltimore. Both were bearing the news of Detty's demise. Joel made me feel a little better when he said Kenny, 74, had read the column, loved it, and was grateful that I wrote it. Golder wanted to let me know that it had meant a lot to both of them and was a well-deserved tribute to a REAL carnival man. “His only regret was that he left out the name of the James H. Drew Exposition as being one being one of the carnivals he and his wife, Barbara, traveled with,” said Golder. Gaylin said Detty was always very helpful to him when he was chairman of OABA in 2016, especially in matters involving the Carnival Museum in Gibsonton, where Detty was a member of the Board. I believe Gaylin made more sincere efforts than anybody to form a better working relationship with members of the International Independent Showmen's Association than I can recall. He realizes the potential of growth there for the OABA, because I'll guarantee you, most are not OABA members, but should be.

                I remember when The Heavenly Patch hung around Andy and Ethel Osak's Showtown USA Bar in Gibtown, even though he wasn't a drinker. There was a Panama City, Florida, connection among the Turtons, Osaks, Bill and Helen McCoy, Terry and Jo Ellen Erickson, and Bobby Cooper. I remember others who were hanging around what we called Andy's in those days, including Gene (Tee Shirt Kelly)  Spezia, Sonny (World's Greatest Guesser) Lewis, Jolly Jim Conroy, Buster Anderson, Uncle Ben, a guy with a big beard who owned a restaurant in Cherokee, North Carolina, Foster Maples, who (he said) accidentally ran his car through the side of the Showtown bar once, and the incomparable Joe Lane.

    Linda Laughridge, whose dad was Walter Meredith, who owned Walt's Lounge, recalls the McCoys and Osaks booking at Petticoat Junction, an 1880s themed western park. Jo Ellen and Walter were brother and sister, with Helen McCoy their mother, and Bill McCoy, their stepfather. Got that? Linda Laughridge and Jody Gay are cousins. They both remember the Panama City times.

                A man named J. E. Churchwell owned the park. He is credited with giving the area the title of Redneck Riviera. The McCoys booked a Dark Ride, Shooting Gallery, Glass House, Scrambler, Swinging Gym, and kiddies. Bill also operated the Bumper Cars for the Churchwells. Terry (The Viking), who wound up with dozers on Lon McWhorter's Mac's Amusements, and Jo Ellen had the popper and grab joint.

                Jody Gay and her husband, Harley, are now retired. She was with The James Gang Amusements of Andalusia, Alabama. Jody, one of the only non-family members on the show, traveled mostly on the unit with Wayne and Virginia, but sometimes with Rodney and Jesse James, from the early 1990s until she left the road in 2004. She kept her quarters dozers games on the show until 2006. Harley was a singer and teacher of autistic children. After being involved in a motorcycle accident, he now limits his singing to a couple gigs a month, and the church choir. He has often worked the Gibtown trade show.

                When Laughridge and her late husband, Ralph moved to Destin, Florida, they bought the house next to the Turtons, who were active in Protestant ministry, and their daughters, Susan and Sandra. The Osaks and Turtons were so close that when Ethel died, Andy gave one of her treasured rings to Ruth.           

    When Arthur Lamkin bought Johnny's United Shows, Bill and Helen McCoy came out of retirement, and ran the popper. At one time, Grandpa, as Linda refers to Bill McCoy as, was partnered in an amusement park in The Ozarks with Bobby Cooper. Cooper went on to run the entire Bingo operation for the state of Tennessee, and I got to know him well. One of his sons, Steve, drives trucks for carnivals, including for Butch and Ronnie Netterfield, Deggeller Attractions, and Mike Thomas, his cousin on Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows. Cooper even drove his Harley Davidson Motorcycle from Tampa to Sturgis, South Dakota, a distance of 1,998.9 miles, to scatter the ashes of one of his brothers. 

    I learned late last night of the death of John A. Hobbs, my friend of 61 years, who was a real showman. He was known to just about everybody in the amusement business, and folks were always coming to his bar and restaurant to see him, or calling to inquire about his health. He joined me and Christine at least 20 times at the trade show in Gibsonton, Fla. Hobbs was 91, and thank God, did not suffer. In fact, one of his sons, Ronnie, called me the night before he died to let them know what station a baseball game was on. He gave numerous stars their first breaks, including Randy Travis, Ricky Van Shelton, Lorrie Morgan, and a host of others. Umpire Joe West stopped to see him two days ago on his way to Kansas City. We went shopping every Christmas Eve for the last 50 years or so. I’m going to miss him.

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Wed, June 12, 2019 10:06 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 1:59 PM
    John Ariale | Principal

    A few minutes ago, the House Appropriations Committee adopted by voice vote an amendment offered by Reps. Pingree (D-ME), Harris (R-MD), and Ruppersburger (D-MD) related to the H-2B cap. 

    This amendment is similar to the language in current law that states that DHS may allow additional visas if the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be filled with US workers, but changes the word “may” to “shall.”  Pingree's amendment – which will be included in the final bill once adopted by the Full Committee later today - requires DHS to release up to 69,320 additional H-2B visas in FY2020 if the demand exceeds the current supply of 66,000.  This word change removes the discretion for releasing additional visas away from DHS.

    In addition to the amendment sponsors, Ranking Member Granger (R-TX), Subcommittee Ranking Member Fleischmann (R-TX) and Rep. Rutherford (R-FL) all expressed support for the amendment.  Subcommittee Ranking Member Roybal-Allard opposed the amendment.  Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE) said he was not taking a position on the amendment but cautioned against foreign workers taking away jobs from America's youth.

    Thanks to everyone who weighed in with their Members of Congress who serve on the Appropriations Committee.  This vote is a significant victory.  As you know, there are many steps in the annual appropriations process, but getting positive H-2B language in the House bill is a significant first step. In addition to working on the annual spending process, we are working with Congress on a long-term solution to address the H-2B cap.

  • Thu, June 06, 2019 6:29 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    As I write this on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which culminated in the invasion of Normandy, I find myself humming to the unforgettable tune of “This Will Be The Longest Day,” which it was, I'm certain, for all the military forces that came together for that momentous event.

                I was 11 years old and remember it vividly. As news spread, people were dancing and singing in the streets. The war was almost over, and the troops would be coming home soon. Hilda and Frank Santoro, who recently had purchased Noone’s Drug Store on our neighborhood corner of Bellevue in Scranton, Pa., were giving away free ice cream. Dips had gone from two for a nickel to two for a dime, so it was a big deal. Margie McDonnell, who was behind the counter, had a reputation for giving big scoops.

                We used to collect cans to help the war effort, and I remember some agency of government distributing free apples and blocks of cheese at our Horace Mann, No. 29 Grade School on several occasions. But I also remember that during the war, life went on. West Scranton's football team played Dunmore every Thanksgiving Day afternoon after Scranton Tech and Scranton Central battled in the morning. Nobody could ever beat Coach Johnny Henzes' Blakely Bears anyway, the school where Steve Swika attended.

                I knew and admired many who had been in the Army, Navy, and Marines, never dreaming that at the age of 23, I would receive a letter stating that my friends and neighbors had chosen me to be drafted into the U. S. Army. My two-year tour was mostly uneventful except, perhaps, for one time when I was awakened for guard duty at 3am and forgot to bring my rifle. Luckily, no enemies showed up for the longest hour I've ever spent marching outside a building in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

                I was fortunate in that my time in service occurred after the Korean War and before Viet Nam, 1956-1958. It was just the luck of the draw, but I still felt lonesome my first three months at Fort Dix, New Jersey. People thank me for my service, just because I was in, but I understand what their thoughts are, and at this particular time of year, it behooves us all to remember what we fought for. Amen!

                “It's time to go to work.” Those are the words being spoken this time of the year from people such as Judy Stevens to her husband, Lee, and Gala Habeck to her husband, Lee, in Gibsonton, Florida. They're all food concessionaires and the Habecks are scheduled to begin another season on June 8 at an annual Youth Carnival in New Brunswick, N. J., where Reithoffer Shows has the carnival midway. “A lot of fairs I play are smaller than this festival,” said Habeck, who seemed anxious to hit the road. I believe he was growing tired of renovating his bathroom, while Stevens sat nearby and kibitzed.

    Habeck was president of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibtown in 1987, while Stevens held that honor in 2004. A glutton for punishment, Stevens is the club's current first vice president, meaning he will be president again next year. Only Philip (Pee Wee) Hoskins, in 1985 and 1997, and Wilbur Cooke, in 2002 and 2015 have accomplished that feat before.

                After New Brunswick, the Habecks move with their popper to the Big Butler Fair, Prospect, Pa., a big early date for Powers Great American Midways. Helping out this year will be the Habeck's two grandsons, Ian, son of Andrew and Kim Habeck, and Kincaide Green, son of Jennifer and Jason Green. “We're lucky, as we know a lot of our friends who are depending on foreign labor through the H-2B Visa system and having trouble obtaining their needs.” He mentioned Ray and Patti Hrudka of Reithoffer Shows, and Dennis and Pat Rowland, who travel with Barrett's Fudge, as examples. “Dennis will be booking with Powers while Pat has an independent route. We know others as well. A lot of carnivals, fairs and the customers will suffer because some shows can't get all the rides up,” said Larry.

                Habeck, who started in the business in 1965 when he was 13, was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. His first show was Albert (Bucky) Steele's Steele's Amusements of Valparaiso, Indiana. Steele, an attorney, as well, was longtime treasure of the OABA. “I was in the business a long time before I ever learned that people actually left their joints during workdays. We were in Alexandria, Va., and I heard Bernard Thomas was nearby. I had heard a lot about him and hoped to make his acquaintance. Somebody told me to knock on his trailer door, and when I did, he was sitting there and watching the World Series on his television. I swear I never knew anybody who left the midway and watched TV in their trailer.”

                Lee and Judy Stevens, who spent 10 years traveling with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, have expanded from one to three food stands this year. One will feature elephant ears, another shaved ice, and the third, lemonade. “We're becoming the Netterfield of the corn field,” Lee laughed. Their season is set to begin June 25 at the Henry County Fair, Cambridge, Illinois.

    Stevens said one of his stands is a stick joint, and he dealt with Kenny Smith of Rocken Graphics and Matt Wilson of Backyard Canvas for the others. Lee and Judy both attended the Florida Federation of Fairs Convention in St. Augustine, and he said, “It was interesting, enjoyable, and well attended.”

    So far, Lee and Judy have played the Florida State Fair, Tampa; Collier County Fair, Naples, and Rhythm and Ribs Festival, St. Augustine. Their route includes dates also in Illinois and Missouri.

    Lee is in charge of the Gibtown Club's annual circus, which draws three sellout crowds each year. It's a labor of love, as is his dedication to the club. “I'm optimistic about this year. The economy is great.”

                Ray Cammack Shows and Dave Helm & Sons Carnival have most of the rides on the independent midway for the May 31-July 4 San Diego County Fair, Del Mar, where Tim Fennell is chief executive officer and general manager. The fair boasts of having 4,188 attractions and 1,879 concerts. Attendance last year was a whopping 1,561,236. This is a true kickoff to the 2019 summer season. Performers include Bando El Recordo, The Fab Four, Jeff Dunham, Neil Sedaka, Christian Nodal, Jake Owen, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Toby Keith, Smokey Robinson, Mariachi Sol De Mexico, Simple Plan, truTV Impractical Jokers, AJR, The Clark Sisters, Grupo Intocable, Lindsey Stirling, Air Supply, Pitbull, Los Tigres del Norte, KC and The Sunshine Band, Trace Adkins, Dionne Warwick, Brad Upton, Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, Charo and John Davidson, Ricky Lee Jones, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bowzer and Johnny Contardo, and Grass Roots. Wow!

                Before the arrival of a golden goose named Jay Bruce, I was about to give up on the Phillies. The Red Sox are disappointing, but can come back, and I believe the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros are the best teams, with the Twins and Brewers playing great ball. Don't count out the Braves or Cubs. Since my son, Tommy, lives in the Twin Cities, I've started rooting for Rocco Baldelli's Bunch.

                Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

  • Thu, May 30, 2019 8:49 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    May 24, 2019

    Greetings, everyone.

    My what a busy week it has been.  TEAPSPA is back and already gaining ground.  The official language of the bill has not yet been posted on the US Government website.  I will notify you when it is available.  The bill was introduced by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who also introduced US HR 2532, which I have added to our chart.  Rep. Grijalva has a 100+ rating with the HSUS Humane Scorecard, which means he took a pro-animal position on 14 scored items plus was given extra credit for leading on pro-animal issues in their assessment. 

    The proposal to ban traveling exotic animal acts in Cincinnati has passed committee and moved to the City Council.  The Cincinnati City Council will meet on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, Room 300, City Hall, 801 Plum St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.   

    Mr. Seelbach, the councilman responsible for the introduction of this ordinance, has vowed to take all remaining traveling tigers and elephants and have them placed at a sanctuary.  

    The city of Wausau, WI Public Health and Safety committee has passed an ordinance banning the ownership of bears, elephants, and foxes among other animals deemed dangerous.  Please read the full list here.    This will be voted on by the full common council in their meeting on June 11.  I have attached a contact sheet for the Alderpersons serving on their council.  

    Small update from Lake County, IL discussing banning traveling exotic animal acts:  they have uploaded the following literature from HSUS as their education packet.  We need to get some opposing material in their hands.   

    Please help oppose AL HB244 which would ban ownership of exotic animals.  Thank you to The Cavalry Group for posting the information on their website.  


    Bills Added:

    AL HB 631 - Requires animal welfare organizations and rescues to adhere to the same sterilization rules as animal control shelters etc.   

    US HR 2532 - Grizzly Bear Protection Act

    I added this bill because in its language it states that any rescued or rehabbed grizzly bear can only be taken to an AZA accredited facility.  This excludes other entities that are USDA licensed (like a professional wildlife rehab) or ZAA accredited that can help a grizzly bear in need.  Just a friendly reminder that AZA and HSUS partnered up in 2017.

    US HR 2863 - TEAPSPA

    Bills Removed:  

    Kingman, AZ tabled animal ordinance

    MO HCS-SCS 559 / WAPA

    This week's update

  • Thu, May 30, 2019 8:44 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    On my initial visits to Gibtown I was always amazed at the sights. You could see the bears roaming in the backyard of John Welde. Billy Rogers had all kinds of curious creatures at his shop. When you'd pass the winter quarters of Ward Hall and Chris Christ, you'd see folks practicing their fire eating or sword swallowing skills, and big rides, games and food trailers were set up in most of the yards.

                Thanks to the late Andy and Ethel Osak, who owned Showtown USA, Jim Elliott, Whitey Slaten, Frances Hadsall, Joe Mikloiche, Paul Dell, Nick Lucas, and others, special zoning laws were installed. Every time they're threatened now, guys like Elliott, Larry Habeck, Ivan Arnold, Lee Stevens, and many of the newer breed step up to fight that never-ending battle to keep what was long ago earned.

                One of the first images I remember from back in the early 1970s was the big Cortina Bobs ride that was set up in the back yard of Ken and Barbara Detty. She's running a very successful restaurant business now, but Kenny has been the right-hand man for Joel Golder of Palace Playland Park in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, since he sold his carnival, Funtastic Midways, in 2003. In fact, Detty found a Roller Coaster from Preston & Barbieri of Reggio Emillia, Italy, that would fit the footprint of Old Orchard Beach, and it arrived at the park in June of 2018. “It was a big hit for the rest of the season,” said Detty.

                Due to a vein problem in his legs that has been corrected, Detty missed the Memorial Day weekend which drew record-breaking business. “It took four and a half to five years to put that Coaster purchase together, but it's a beauty.” The ride cost $4 million and is 70 feet high. An adjacent parking lot had to be removed to make room for it. Detty is no stranger to big rides. He booked his Mack of Germany-manufactured Cortina Bobs with Strates Shows, Mile Kaufman's Gooding's Million Dollar Midways, Jerry Murphy's Murphy Brothers Exposition, and Johnny's United Shows when it was owned by Arthur Lamkin. Asked about the difference in being at an amusement park or traveling with a carnival, Detty laughed and said, “at the end of the week, you close the gate and put the padlock on instead of loading up all the trucks.” For Golder, he has refurbished rides, built signs, made sure all the rides had LED lighting packages, helped with all the amenities, including benches, etc. Of Golder, he said, “He's not afraid to spend money and it pays off. He has a first class, beautiful operation.”

                We reminisced that Hickey and Bonnie Culpepper, who spent years with Royal American Shows, also booked with Golder as have other carnival people such as Don Catania and Bobby Cassata, with games. Golder is a good friend of Harold Fera of Rockwell Amusements, Scituate, Rhode Island, and the two always make it a point to attend the various trade shows together, including Gibsonton. Marlo Yhnatko, granddaughter of Hickey and Bonnie, and daughter of Trish, who is with Premier Amusements in Myrtle Beach, S. C., will be spending her first year with games at Old Orchard Beach.

                Born in 1942 in Dayton, Ohio, Detty recalls that his family was “dirt poor. When I was nine, I was sweeping floors at barber shops, stores, bars, and theaters, when a carnival came to town on Halloween. It was owned by Earl Barber, Jerry Barber's father, and he had four or five kiddie rides. I heard somebody who was helping with the electrical work remark that they needed somebody to operate the little airplane ride. They asked if I could and I said I could if they'd teach me. Years later, I left the show, took the Tip Top and booked it with Gooding's, Jack and Mayo Royal, and all over South Florida.” Jerry Barber was awarded the OABA's Pioneer Award in 2015.

                Detty and I share another good memory. The National Association of College Baseball Coaches was holding its annual convention in Nashville, and one of the coaches from a community college in Ocala, Fla., was enjoying the hospitality of Johnny Hobbs's Nashville Palace, when he remarked to me that he would love to get a carnival for a fundraising event. I immediately put him in touch with Detty, whose show covered that area, and they built a relationship that lasted until Detty sold his show, small world.

                I contacted Joel Golder for some comments about Detty, and here's what he had to say. “We've been friends for 50 years. He helped me to get where I am. There is no way I would have the beautiful park we now own if it were not for Kenny. At one time I would say he was the best ride man I ever knew. He's slowing down a bit, physically, but he still has all that knowledge stored inside his head.”

    Speaking of the Sea Viper, Golder confirmed that it was Detty who tracked it down. In fact, there is not a piece we ever purchased that he wasn't involved in. He is a great friend and tremendous asset.” Golder also reiterated that the park enjoyed its biggest opening weekend in history over Memorial Day.

                A couple weeks ago I wrote about a man named Jack Coxman living in a trailer park in Tampa with Butch Netterfield, Joie Chitwood, Danny Fleenor, and Chris Christ, according to Darrell Desgranges, The Mizuno Golf Pro. Desgranges also runs Meridian Entertainment of Traverse City, Michigan, with his partner, Brad Coombs. Darrell's brother, Todd Desgranges, and Joe Blume handle Evelyn Deggeller's Stuart Concessions on Cole Shows of Covington, Va.

                The more I thought about that, the more I figured that Darrell was actually referring to the late Jack Kochman, a thrill show operator, not Coxman. In another place, Patty Dee, concession manager of the Miami-Dade County Fair, pointed that one of the top 10 food grossing operators, Vicki Hunter, was Vicky Lis last year, so I reckon she must have got married. Thanks, Patty!

                I heard from Bill Blake, who was a longtime manager for Ron and Bev Burback's Funtastic Shows in Portland, Oregon. He wrote: “I see from your articles that you are doing well after your surgery. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy your part of ShowTime. Today was a beautiful day at the Pacific. It was the first day of a three-day Razor Clam Dig. It will be the last one until winter comes. I opened my Giant European Slide the first weekend of May.” Blake sent some photos of the razor clams with his wife, Feng Yan, stepson, Hongsen, and grandson, Marcus. It looks like they caught a lot. Blake added, “Hey, how about those Seattle Mariners, best start in years, and it's a rebuilding year at that.”

    Ironically, coincidentally, or whatever, before Golder hung up the phone, he asked how I thought my Boston Red Sox were doing. I said they were doing okay after a very slow start but couldn't sustain without a closer. I admitted Craig Kimbrell was erratic at times in 2018, but more often than not, he was automatic in the ninth inning. Nobody has replaced him. A few hours later, Boston carried a 5-2 lead into the ninth against Cleveland, and wound up losing 7-5, toughest loss of the year. Case closed!

                Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

  • Thu, May 30, 2019 8:08 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Interested parties should apply directly to gregc@oaba.org

  • Wed, May 29, 2019 9:38 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Reps. Bergman (R-MI) and Keating (D-MA) are circulating the attached letter that will be sent to House Appropriations Committee leaders in advance of committee action on the Fiscal 2020 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill in mid-June. We are grateful for their leadership on this issue.

    Please call your Representative and ask him or her to sign the attached letter. If they have signed supportive H-2B letters in the past, please thank them for their continued efforts and support. Please also be aware that members of the Appropriations Committee will often not sign on a letter to appropriations leaders even if they are very supportive of the H-2B program. If this is the case with your Member, thank him or her for their support and encourage them to support any effort to include H-2B cap relief in the DHS funding bill.

    You can reach you Representative through the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121. Once connected to the office, please ask to speak to the staff person that handles H-2B visas issues. You can also send an email to your lawmakers by using the following link set up by NALP: https://p2a.co/l5fTSY7

    Thank you.

  • Thu, May 23, 2019 9:30 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)


    The city of Cincinnati is considering a traveling exotic animal ban, a private exotic animal ownership ban, and a pet sale where cats and rabbits in pet stores must be sourced from rescues only. Councilman Chris Seelbach has announced it is his personal goal to remove all circus elephants and tigers across America and send them to sanctuaries, with which he has made arrangements for their arrival! As of earlier this week, it has passed from its initial committee and onto the full City Council for a hearing that will be next Wednesday. Please get your calls and comments to the mayor ASAP.

    Read more from Vanessa Gagne >>>>

  • Thu, May 23, 2019 9:23 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Marilyn Portemont passed through town yesterday on the way to her 72nd visit to the Indianapolis 500. But for reasons beyond our control, Christine and I didn't get to see her. It was also a week where I heard from a couple of other very special old friends, James E. Strates, and J. H. Martin.

                I've been having trouble with the little and ring fingers on my right hand, with both having been swollen and red for a couple of weeks, so I finally went to my doctor yesterday. He diagnosed it as gout, which surprised me since I know what gout is, having had it before. The last time was at the NCAA Final Four Basketball Tournament at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

                Our planned visit with Marilyn and her daughter, Suzette Hooper, was postponed, since they encountered trouble with their van on the way to Nashville and their arrival was going to be much later than we had scheduled, plus I wasn't feeling very well, either.

                The first gout episode occurred after I had been the guest all week of Denzil Skinner, the hand-picked choice of The Pritzger Family (owners of Hyatt Hotels) to run the massive Superdome. Skinner, who had previously managed Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, and I partied hardy every night, which isn't tough to do on Bourbon Street. I watched the games from his suite next to an array of celebrities and his personal friends, including me, and co-worker Ray Pilszak, our aging sales director.

    Also enjoying the contests, company, and festivities were Al Hurt, Pete Fountain, Edwin Edwards, the colorful three-time governor of the Bayou State, who flashed a gun he had in his boot, leggy Chris Owen, who owned the top nightclub in town, where I had sat next to Charley Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics the previous night, Owen still beautiful and dancing, was actually in her 70s.

    There was a long list of characters that also included Bill Curl, whom I had known when he was sports information director at Tulane University, and I was a sportswriter for The Nashville Tennessean. When I covered a game between the two historically bad football teams, Vanderbilt and Tulane, Curl referred to it as the Toilet Bowl, not very kind. He went to work at the Superdome the day it opened and became known as the Mayor of Bourbon Street. He knew everybody, literally, and they knew him.

                Who would want to leave an atmosphere like this? Nobody in their right mind, or should I say toe, right. That's what happened to me on the afternoon of March 19, 1982, as Coach Dean Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels were ready to face Coach John Thompson's Georgetown Hoyas in the title game. Early that afternoon, I spotted Pete Carlesimo in the stands. He's more well known now as the father of P. J. Carlesimo, who coached Seton Hall University, and five National Basketball Association teams, including Portland, Golden State, Seattle, Oklahoma City, and the Brooklyn Nets. Like his father, P. J.  graduated from Scranton Prep High School in my hometown of Scranton, Pa.

                Isn't it funny, how one thought leads you to another. Some memories never fade. That one never will of me being so excited to say hello at The Superdome, to the man who was the head football coach of the University of Scranton for 25 years and where I had seen so many of the games he had coached. Here's another thought that popped up from those years, our school was probably the only one in history to turn down a bowl bid. Known as the Royals after being called the Tommies when the school was earlier named St. Thomas, we were unbeaten in 1954, the year of Hurricane Hazel, and my junior year in college, until we ran up against a team called the Quantico Marines.

                Their quarterback was a legend, Eddie Lebaron, and we got shellacked. Nevertheless, with me cheering loudly for a team that included my neighbor Johnny Woodbridge at guard, the Tommies turned Royals had a stellar season and were invited to go to what was then called the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando. Believe it or not, the players turned down the invitation because it would have interfered with them earning extra money by taking part-time post office jobs during the Christmas season. It could only happen in Scranton, or maybe Wilkes-Barre, which the Scranton Tribune sports editor, Chic Feldman, always fondly, or probably not so, referred to as the unconscious village.

                This does not have a happy ending. I kept yelling from behind his seat to the coach who continued to ignore me. I was really hurt, and hurting, too, since what turned out to be gout in my big toes had me in tears. I had to fly back to Nashville and leave before the game which had North Carolina, featuring stars such as James Worthy, Sam Perkins and a young guy named Michael Jordan, winning 63-62 over Georgetown which was led by Patrick Ewing and Erik (Sleepy) Floyd. Within a week I was limping around one of the many related Kissel midways in Cincinnati, and spending time with Bob Kissel and his mother, Olga, at their home. What a legacy she left, and what an honor it was to meet her.

                Years later I ran into the Carlesimos again with a much better outcome. It turned out the man who was one of the Seven Blocks of Granite at Fordham when he played there, was deaf and couldn't hear me. By now, he had been athletic director at Fordham and head of the National Invitational Tournament. He and his wife apologized profusely, but it wasn't necessary. This was a very special moment for me.

                Out of the blue, I received a call from Strates, who was chairman of OABA in 1974, and a 2002 inductee into the organization's Hall of Fame. We hadn't had an opportunity to chat in quite a while, and he just wanted to check on how I was doing. He's 89, and I'll be 86 on July 18, so we mostly talked about doctor visits, which consume a good bit of our time these days. The man with an infectious smile and military manner still travels to show dates, still commanding as much attention as his train.

                I did many interviews with Jimmy when I was editor of Amusement Business and he was always kind, and informative. All you had to do was ask one question and keep writing. He had plenty to say, as I'm sure he still does, but this wasn't that kind of call. At the start of each season I'd get his perspective on what to look for and J. D. Floyd of Cumberland Valley Shows would always say he couldn't wait each year to read Strates's sermon. Strates and Jerry Murphy had the contract here in Nashville at the Tennessee State Fair for several years, and I always loved visiting their suites, with my friend Bill Alter of National Ticket Co. in Las Vegas. Strates was always smoking big cigars at the time.

                The next year when I visited him at the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, Md., I asked about the cigars, and he started saying how evil they were. He had gone on a Pritikin regimen and wanted to talk about health. He had me interview Serge Coronas, who booked his circus with Strates Shows, and that turned out good. But when I saw Strates and his children later that year, James E., also Jimmy, just kind of smiled, and I knew times had changed again. But I did ask about them when he called, and he's off again. It was really heartwarming to hear from a guy who has defined this industry.

    He pointed out that with all the technology today, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, and other electronic devices, his did might even  be still alive. We didn't get to discuss the 1972 flood that hit his carnival, the only one remaining that moves by rail, stranded for weeks, maybe it was months, in Wilkes-Barre, of all places. I'll call him next time and ask what he thinks about the H-2B foreign Visa program, state of the industry, etc. All I need to do is ask one question and I guarantee you that by the time he has finished talking I better not have gout in my fingers. They'll be sore.

                J. H. Martin, president and GM of the Greater Baton Rouge, La. Fair for years, and I had lots of fun times at Midwest Fair Manager meetings before we both kind of retired. Like Strates, he always had plenty to say, and a joke to tell. Martin e-mailed “Glad to read your recap in your column. Since I am in remission, I agree with your decision going forward. Enough is enough. Now I can travel, and we will.

                “We were packed and ready to drive to New Orleans yesterday morning to catch a Southwest flight to Las Vegas, through Denver. But they were canceling so many flights out of Denver, we canceled, threw our bags in the car and drove to Biloxi and Beau Rivage for a couple days of rest, good food, and a few slots. We'll probably go to Vegas next month. Life is good for us old folks!” It's good to be alive!

    Please send news to  tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 280-7257.

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

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