Sunday, August 3, 2014

Showmen's Rest - Part 3

There are so many fascinating lives behind the stones in Showmen's Rest, from the people who performed under the big top shows to those who ran the business behind the scenes. Here are a few more of their stories.

1888 - 1966

     A long-time animal superintendent, Dutch was famous for showing his "blood sweating hippo" from the River Nile, named "Miss Oklahoma." A hippo has to be a big (pun intended) part of your life to feature her on your tombstone!


     Kennedy Swain was born in a railroad show car and brought up on show business. He performed in vaudeville and stage and including being a comedian in Plunkett's Variety Show.
     His wife "Snooks" came from a long line of famous circus people, the famed Plunkett family, and was drummer in the circus band. Their son followed them into the business.
                   "Kennedy Swain and his Musical Mavericks," featuring Kennedy on trumpet, performed opening music for the Harley Sadler Tent Show.
     The World War II Air Force veteran also worked as a sideshow manager for the Al G. Kelly-Miller Brothers circus and the announcer for the Carson and Barnes Circus. 

     Zenda's talent is proudly displayed on her marker next to Kennedy's.

1923 - 1998

   Born and raised in Indiana, Bonnie "Jean" loved her work with Chimpanzees so much that she is forever depicted with one. She died in 1998 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

1907 - 1988

     "Flo," was a circus performer with a number of shows including Barnett Bros., Clyde Beatty, King Bros. and Kelly-Miller. She died at age 81. Just imagine the stories she could have shared with us!

1915 - 

     Grace is a businesswoman who was ahead of her time. 

     She was raised by bareback rider Elizabeth Romig, a family friend. Her mother had died when she was young and her father, a circus baggage stock handler was on the road with Sells-Floto. 
     She became a trapeze artist at age 12, and later married circus superintendent David McIntosh, circus superintendent. After her husband's death she purchased the M&M Circus with Charles Marine. When Marine passed away, she ran the circus alone. 
     This beautiful marker is still waiting, because she still has things to do. She celebrated her 99th birthday last month!

1926 - 1980

   John Carroll, known as the "Elephant Man," was a famous elephant trainer and handler.

     At age 15, he was a cage boy for Terrell Jacobs, then joined the Kelly-Miller Circus around 1948. He died of a heart attack at age 54 while in Jacksonville, Texas with the Carson & Barnes Circus.
     His funeral services were held in the spotlighted center of a circus tent. 
     Carroll left his life savings to establish the "John Carroll Showmen's Rest Trust Fund, to provide gravestones for show people who could not provide their own. 
     Several of the markers in Showmen's Rest are inscribed with the fund's name.

1927 - 1999

     Ted Bowman started his circus career with the Terrell Jacobs Wild Animal Circus in 1949, and also worked for Royal American Shows, Fairyland Circus, Gil Gray Circus, and the Al G. Kelly - Miller Bros. Circus. He served as the general manager of the Carson & Barnes Circus for 17 years.
     His unique marker at the front of the Showmen's Rest section depicts an old-fashioned circus wagon wheel, with the poignant inscription:

"There's nothing left but empty popcorn sacks
and wagon tracks…the circus is gone."

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