SURFER

I WORKED FOR REAL ROMANIAN GYPSIES

There was the grandfather, the grandmother, three sons and three wives and there were some grandchildren, maybe four, including an infant, occupying three of the dozens of caravan trailers that were parked out in the back-lot of the carnival that I happened upon one day while visiting in PA (Pennsylvania). I was sent to the off-limits spot after in-canting a carny code word to a carnival game agent that was "working a booth" out on the midway. 

I was introduced to the families patriarch but only after the woman that had answered the door to the trailer had closed it and then re-opened it again, before presenting him. I had no idea that I would be traveling with honest to god, real-live Romanian Gypsies when I first inquired to the fellow about a job. Prior to this, I had worked in a carnival but only as a "ride-jock" but here, I was trying to move-up the rungs and become a carnival game agent instead.

The gypsies hired me and my girlfriend on the spot and we returned that night with all of our belongings. We had been living in a tiny room over an "all-night" diner that we were both working the graveyard shift at so the move wasn't difficult. We had left "the road" thinking to settle down for awhile but only lasted living "the suckers life" for about a month before we were back out on "a (carnival) lot" again. But this time was different because now I had graduated from "the back" of the lot to "the front". Now, I was about to learn (from the pros & the cons) how to really "take the people" that come to a carnival,  for a ride!

The tutored coarse lasted for about a year and a half and ended when I had a falling-out with my mentors and moved on. However much less we all were for the loss, I left with the taboo talent that the gypsy family had laid on me.

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SCHOOL BUS EDDIE

I bought a school bus in Hutchinson, Kansas, back around 1980. I had had others before this one. Added up, I can remember at least six school buses that I owned, operated, and lived in, all throughout that decade. School buses make great campers. They have heavy duty suspensions, so you can outfit them almost anyway that you like.

 The bus that I bought in Kansas still had the original seats and windows in it, when I got it. I think the used car lot guy told me that a church got it from a school and that he got it from the church. Whatever the truth was, the school bus was painted white but it had no lettering upon it like the one up there does but they look the same anyway.

I had to leave the white school bus at the car lot for a couple of months even though I had paid for it, in full... up front because I was already obligated to drive a piece of carnival equipment to Shreveport, Louisiana and the show that I was with had several more spots to play before we would get there. Once I got to Shreveport, I hitchhiked back to Kansas to get my bus. 

My sister dropped me off at a truck stop outside of town at around 9am and later on around 5pm I called her from a motel room in Kansas. I hadn't made it to Hutchinson but I was only a hundred miles away from it when I made the call. My sister was amazed at the distance that I had managed to cover in such a short time and maybe I was too... a little. I had hitched out of Louisiana into East Texas, and on to Dallas up through Oklahoma and into Kansas in less than 12 hours. At one point I was jumping out of one tractor trailer and jumping into another while both of them where moving. This rolling rendezvous was coordinated by two truckers over CB radios and conducted by the three of us simultaneously on a fuel island pad at a truck stop near the Texas Oklahoma State Line. The prerequisite was that I had to be freshly showered and ready to run. The trucker that I had been riding with was kind enough to both, solicit the ride for me and vouch for my healthy hygiene. 

After snoozing in the motel for a few hours, I woke to a wake-up call, showered, went for the free continental breakfast, called a cab and caught an early morning bus the rest of the way to Hutchinson. The bus pulled into Hutchinson just around sunrise. I determined it to be to early to roll out of the sleepy town's car lot with the bus because I didn't have a valid license or something like that. So I snuck into the white school bus and rolled out my bed roll and slept for a couple of hours. I awoke before the car lot had opened but the coast looked clear so I fired up the school bus and headed back to Louisiana. 

It turned out to be a real nice day weather-wise. I picked up a hobo that was hitch hiking. He choose a seat up front and even ate some lunch from a brown paper bag that he had with him. He said he was going to stay with his sister in Oklahoma for the winter. I took him where he wanted to go and made it back to my girlfriend (at the time) who was waiting for me at the carnival. We moved our gear in and parked the cool white school bus over near the other campers before heading out to work at our jobs at Louisiana's State Fair.

SKY HIGH

Made for The 1962 Seattle World's Fair; it has four steel wheels and stands about ten stories high. When erected, the yellow monstrosity dominates the sky. It takes, a full day to "tear it down," twice as long to "set it up," and a train to move it. Pastured-out after the World's Fair, the portable amusement ride was retired into a life on the road in a traveling carnival.

The noble ride's dazzling lights can be seen from afar and they also signal the "opening" and "closing" of "the show" to the carnival people who travel with ROYAL AMERICAN SHOWS, which is based out of Tampa, Florida. Failure to heed "the call lights" will result in a fine or a firing. All midway rides and booths must be open when the skyscraper's lights come on and be closed when they go off, each day. When fully loaded, over one-hundred people can ride the "Ride" at the same time. Besides The Carousel, it's the show's 
                                                                       biggest "ticket taker.¨

I stood beneath the behemoth for the first time ever down in Little Rock, Arkansas, back in 1976 at The Arkansas State Fair. I wasn't looking to ride, I was looking for work. I never got a job on that ride but I rode on it, for free, many times after that day. It was difficult to smoke pot at a State Fair without the risk of getting caught. Pot's smell can be stronger than popcorn's when it's burning and since there are a million ways to get busted if you smoke it around a midway, some clever carnies came up with a brilliant idea! Elli Ferris never planned for his famous wheels to be used by pot-heads who want to get high in a carnival without the fear of being detected, but they work perfectly for exactly that.

Coordination between the Ferris Wheel operator and the "smoker" must exist for the scheme to work, so be prepared to share some stash. It pays to present the token with your ticket before you ride. Let the operator know your intentions and quite possibly he will manipulate the rotating Ferris Wheel so that you are left spinning at the top. The Ferris Wheel from the World's Fair that I've been describing for you had four wheels because it was a double Ferris Wheel. You ought to see one when it's half torn-down and the remaining lights are still on. The sight is surreal if you are used to using them as a signal. The big-ones are the last to come down. The giant wheel towers fade into the dawn, disappearing piece by piece throughout the night, until they're completely gone.

Having just joined the carnival, and having no place else to sleep because my ride was torn-down, packed-up, and put on the train, I slept close to my boss's house trailer, so as not to get run-over by tear-down traffic. I awoke after two hours of sleep and from face down I looked across the littered pavement of a massive State Fair Ground that had been torn-down during the night. Towering above the acres of trash, was the partially dismantled remains of the double Ferris Wheel. Some of the lights on the parts were still on. It was dawn. Soon after, my new boss woke-up and together we made tracks through the empty popcorn sacks. We made the jump to Jackson, Mississippi from Little Rock before evening, but the show train carrying the World's Fair Ferris Wheel didn't get there until the next afternoon.

MARRY GO ROUND

GETTING MARRIED IS CHILD'S PLAY
STAYING TOGETHER IS FOR ADULTS ONLY
The Show Boss reads their vows, written upon the latest issue of The Amusement Business Newspaper while the couple complete one forward circle, riding on the Merry Go-Round... and, that's it. They're married, carnival style! 

Should the carnival couple decide to be divorced from each other, then the newspaper with their vows written upon it, is ripped in half and the couple ride the merry go-round together, one last time... but this time, in reverse... and that's it. The marriage is over, carnival style.

No study could ever say, just how many  
                                                                                                  marry this way.

BLACK RIVER PIRATE


I was hitchhiking "cross-country" (USA) back in the 1970s when I joined up with a traveling carnival for the first time. Although I switched affiliates, I stayed in that life for eleven years. After that, I was a transient vendor for another eleven years and then I spent eight more years out on the road promoting and producing my own events. 

Black River pirates like me generally work while others are relaxing. We are positioned behind the counters at all the fairs, the rallies, the games and markets that our quarry flock to. At best we are bohemian merchants but pocket pickers nonetheless.  

Every passing body is a mark, or by PT Barnum's standard, "a sucker." I don't buy his assessment of the paying public, even if he is one of my mentors. When I see a crowd, I see booty, not plunder. As a "barker," I know how to fire shots (from behind a counter) into a crowd that will draw them in... not send-em runnin. 

Like catching fish, the public must be lured. Vendors call this flashing.

 FISH FLASH DAVEY JONES' LOCKER!

HARD CHANGE IN THE WEATHER

Elvis Presley "sang" about the COLD KENTUCKY RAIN but I stood out in it for eleven weeks straight when the carnival that I was running with got stuck playing "still dates" in various shopping mall parking lots, around Louisville, one spring.

Yeah, carnival business really sucks when it's raining out, but then again that's just the money part of it and since I wasn't in it just for the money, there was still "lots" to do anyway. I love carnival lots, wet or otherwise. I especially get a kick out of the dust from them that collects on my boots when it is dry... but I really can't tell you why. Shopping mall parking lots may puddle in comparison to mud and they're certainly safer for setting carnival rides on, but still no public ever paid us, just to get their seats wet no matter where we were.

Most traveling carnivals come out of "winter quarters" around spring time in the USA whereupon they play still dates (AKA "slow dates") along a route that leads them to larger summer time venues such as fairs and festivals. Carnival bosses/owners expect to pick up some cash along the way but without it they have to stay.

There are three kinds of money at a carnival but one of those kinds is never seen and that is "no money", other than "no money", there's "walk-in money" and there's "grind money". True carnies know that "one good one makes up for all the bad ones" and that is why they keep the lights on... when it's raining.

What drives a person to buy a ticket for a carnival ride in the rain? Why it's the lights silly! But of coarse, lights alone can't do it so in most cases it turns out to be an irresistible child dragging a parent across the mall parking lot. Typically, in trade for being good in the store, the tyke has been promised a ride on the merry-go-round. With no crowds of fair goers around to block the view it's easy to watch these types of scenes play out. People watching is more than a mere pastime to a carny. The more that you know about a person, the easier it is to get into their wallet.

Despite all the Kentucky asphalt that we had been setting-up on during those eleven weeks of rain, the carnival was getting stuck anyway, so the idea that year, was to soak anyone who would buy a ticket to ride. One by one we courted the few paying public that would walk the soggy midways that we set up and tore down that spring. Little by little the carnival cash box became depleted and the show began to barely make food money let alone some for gas. At one point, the boss handed out seventeen dollars in "hard money" to our crew of 13, from money that was retrieved from the carnival's arcade games. Hard money is change as opposed to the other kind which is soft. We sent one of the girls to the store for beer, bread and beans and then hunkered down together in an empty box trailer that was parked out back behind the rides. Those cold, wet nights that we spent in Kentucky were extremely long and often times we used candles for light because it cost money to run generators.

If the nights were long, the time until the show's next opening was even longer. Carnivals don't open until the late afternoons or evenings in the spring time. Without any money left over from the night before the days were sometimes a bit hard to endure as well. Even worse, was when you fared badly, the night before, in the trading that goes on between fellow carnies, when they're holed up in a trailer and there is no money around. Why, you might even have to walk around penniless while wearing someone else's wet shoes because you lost your "dry ones" in a crap game back at the box trailer. I used to hate walking around without my buck knife strapped to my side. When I was lucky, I'd win it back the next night, if not I would purchase a new one somewhere down the road, during fairer times.

Down to just change and crappy weather, I decided to move on. I knew of a hippie commune in Kettle Creek, Kentucky so I went there and stayed in one of the log cabins for a few days. The rain hit the leaves of the trees above me before it dropped to the tin roof that I slept under. Even after being diverted in such a delightful way, the rain drops still came down in sheets but I no longer cared because I stayed warm with Lisa from Louisiana who was also there with me beneath the covers.

SEVERING TIES


Long Haired Billy had just gotten out of prison and I was getting ready to hit the road again so we teamed-up, left Louisiana and headed North. I told Billy that he probably couldn't work in the carnival like I did because he was green and also because he had really long hair. I had long hair too but I had managed to prove myself to be a strong carnival game agent years before any hair bans had been instituted and was known to be a money maker for the show. I did however have to hide my pony-tail under a hat whenever I was out on the Midway. 

I told Billy that he would be working for me while I was working for the carnival. I operated an after-hours bar out of my bus, that was exclusively for carnival people only. Some "girl guests" from the towns that we set-up in were allowed to party with us, as an exception to the rule. Business in the bus was brisk so Billy stayed busy.

 He was a Mr.French and Mr. Clean all wrapped-up in one. Billy never received any set salary from me. We agreed to none when we first started out because under the circumstances I couldn't guarantee him any. I did however promise to look after his well being and not abandon him at anytime along the way. Billy told me that he had been working on a prison pea farm, for two cents an hour, for the last three years so anything would be better than that. We shared a hearty laugh together and then "shook on it". 

Both business and Billy were better than I had hoped for so everyone was happy. Billy was one of those cool, quiet kind of Cajuns and within a short period of time he had managed to impress the show bosses enough to earn his own "hole" in the show. Acting upon a suggestion from my own boss, I showed Billy how to make money playing carnival games and how to hide his hair while we moved from fair to fair. "Mad Mike" from Milwakee a.k.a. "Milwakee Mike" was looking for something to do so he replaced Billy, back at the bus.

Some states later, Billy and I were sitting at the bar in the lounge of a hotel in Melrose Park when a hooker, dragging two young businessmen by their ties, came in.  The scene was sure enough silly but certainly not out of place considering where we were. Melrose Park is connected to Chicago just like the boroughs of New York are connected to that crazy city.

It wasn't too long before Billy and I were forced into the black tie affair because the hooker had choose to drag us into her conversations with her clients. She was making fun of the fact that her escorts were boring and because they didn't want to dance with her out on a lonely dance floor. It was about two in the afternoon so the lounge was dead, except for Billy and me. 

" I should trade you two duds in for these two dudes" she taunted her captives. In a while and after several rounds of stiff drinks the unhappy hooker severed ties with the guys that she came in with. She reinvigorated  herself and decided to direct her passions towards me and my friend Billy. The working girl connected with Billy and me because we were working people too. 

The two guys in the ties were misfitted out of town conventioneers who wearing white collar shirts with wrinkled tails so they split after hand pressing their suits in the bathroom first. Helen chose to stay with Billy and I so we decided to play the jukebox and dance with her. She started buying the drinks.

We hung with Helen for an hour or so but later we had to leave her for some work that we had to do. Billy and I were working "spring spots" out in the suburbs and they opened in the evenings. "Call" was at five. We made it but we were both hammered so it's a good thing for us that the weather was shitty that night because we got to close the show early.

Helen wasn't around when we got back, but then again considering how plastered she was when we parted ways, who would have expected or wanted her to be. That girl was a "heat score" waiting to happen. Figuring that she probably had pissed her pimp-off anyway, we weren't surprised to find out that she was gone when Billy and I got back to our hotel.

Hotel life, for a road bum, is about as cushy as it gets. Having a lounge bar in the lobby is a powerful draw for long term hotel guests that just happen to be carnival people. Dozens of show people stayed at The Melrose Park Inn and we all frequented the lounge, a lot. The Inn was a bit like a tiny show town during spring carnival season.

Helen looked so beautiful in a picture of herself that she had set-up on my night stand that Billy told me that he "wished that he had a picture of that picture" when he first saw it. I wished he could have moved-in with Helen and me, after all we had lots of rooms but hers was no flop house. Why, she even had a high tech room fumigator that burned Cd's. Helen was endlessly exotic and that's how it's suppose to be when you're girlfriend is a High-End Chicago Hooker.

Besides the fumigator, Helen had lots of other baggage. She brought in a gigantic wicker chair, trunks of clothes and shoes and ton's of tears. Helen was a hard one to handle but it was really something while it lasted. I chose to sever my own tie to her a few nights before we were scheduled to leave town so I moved back into my old hotel room, with the guys.

Helen came into the lounge looking for me the night before the show left town. I rejected her advances but unlike the shirt and tie guys who previously got away, I still had some hell to pay. Helen went to the other end of the lounge but the scorned "ho" was not in a partying mood. Some carnival guys were trying to hustle her attention and they ended-up getting a lot more than they bargained for after one of them goosed the girl. A fight broke out, but I stayed put. Helen was a big girl and as far as I was currently concerned, she was on her own. Plus, from where I was sitting, I could see that the culprits were already being kicked-out.

No one expected the culprits to find a way back in but they did. There was another eruption after one of the fools tried to mount Helen and she ripped open his face, using her fingernails as a weapon. The lounge lights immediately came-on but that didn't stop the riot in the lounge from exploding out into the lobby of the Inn.

13 days later, I left the hospital after surviving a five man-knife fight that occurred in the hotel hallway where I was stabbed to death (DOA) that night. I was unarmed during the scrap but not unlucky because I was later miraculously revived.

The third best heart surgeon in the city of Chicago just happened to be in the emergency room when they brought me in that night. Consequently, he was able to safe my life. He told me that I had a new birth day!

Helen came to see me in the hospital and she apologized for her tumultuous behavior. She offered to take care of me after I was released from the hospital but my cuts had exposed the danger in making such a move. 

They had to saw-off the tips, of two of my ribs, in order to mend my heart which had been stabbed and to think that Adam, only had to give up one his, to get Eve. Eve repaid Adam by giving him an apple but after what I had been through, I needed some sunlight. So I flew to Connecticut and sat out on my father's porch for a couple of months until I regained my health.

Helen accepted my final rejection more pleasantly the first and I never saw her or heard from her again... but I do still have a soft spot above my heart because of her.

STATE FAIR WEATHER FRIEND

MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
I WORKED THIS LOT
AT LEAST A HALF A DOZEN TIMES
There are 50 Sates in The USA but not all of them have a STATE FAIR. As fortune would have it, it was FAIR SEASON when I joined a carnival for the very first time. I cut my carnival teeth while working a "Music Ride" at THE ARKANSAS STATE FAIR back in 1976. I joined The Carnival, accidentally but then again... few ever begin carnival life, by seeking such employment.

I was hitchhiking to Texas from New York when some guys in a bronze Lincoln Continental picked me and my hitchhiking-buddy up. It was 3 or 4 in the morning and Tumbleweed (Larry H) and I were thumbing rides from an entrance ramp on Interstate 40 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Tumbleweed and I had to race across four lanes of highway to catch the ride because the driver of the Lincoln had been barreling up the entrance ramp at near highway speed when he first noticed us. It took him a while to throttle down and navigate the on-coming traffic so he ended up in the medium and that's where me and Larry got in. 

We called Larry, "Tumbleweed" because he was a white boy with an Afro. His hair looked like "an explosion in a mattress factory" but it was during The Hippie Years, so it was cool. The guys in the Lincoln had just scored a suitcase full of pot, which had to be slid-over on the back seat before Tumble Weed and I could get in. Our new friends didn't have long-hair like we did but they made up for it by having so much stash. 

They drove Tumbleweed and I to their house in Little Rock where we were invited to hang-out for as long as we wanted. Many kind motorist, provided such Oasis' for "road people" back in those years. As a result, cool people were constantly connecting with each other and thereby, the so-called Hippie Nation grew.

Houses were no longer Homes, they had become Pads instead. Millions of household residences were transformed from Post World War suburbia styled establishments into anti-establishment counter-culture centers. Neon Lights had just been invented. 
Everyone had a lava lamp. Legs were cut-off of the couches, the beds and even the chairs. Hippie Crash Pads fashioned the decorum of THE MOD MOVEMENT. MOD meaning modern. Where did you think that the Bean-Bag came from? A bean-stalk? Why...  hell no! Jack may have grew the plant but it was hippies, who bagged the beans.

Tumbleweed and I relaxed like two frogs on a Lilly at the crash pad in Little Rock for the remainder of the wee-hours, before crashing-out, at our new oasis. Our benefactors were gone when we woke up but a note that was left by them, invited Tumbleweed and I to stay and make ourselves comfortable. A bag of marijuana that was meant for us to have, weighted the note paper down so we started the new day out by smoking some more pot. 

There had been a lot more pot around a few hours earlier but we supposed that our hosts had stashed the rest of the five pound bag of dope before they left, or perhaps... they took it with them. Tumbleweed and I never bothered to look for it because back then, hippies were known  to be honorable. However we were looking to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings so we looked out the windows instead. 

Wouldn't you know it! Low and behold! THE ARKANSAS STATE FAIR was right across the street! "What's that, a carnival", I asked? Tumbleweed said that it might be an amusement park.  We were suppose to meet up with some other hitchhikers when we got to East Texas so we decided to check out the happenings across the street on our way back out to the highway. 

After showering in a real bath for the first time in a month, we gathered up our gear and left the quarter as we had found it. We left our own note and locked the doors when we left, hoping that the kind folks who had trusted us with their house could get back in when they got back home.

The attraction across the street turned out to be a STATE FAIR. STATE FAIRS are the Super Bowls of Carnivals. Many Southern States have gigantic fairground stadiums that can hold enormous crowds. THE ARKANSAS STATE FAIR has a Midway that is a mile and a half long and neither Tumbleweed nor I had ever seen anything like it before. We didn't have any money so we determined to gain admission for free. We saw that there were some cops, guarding the ticket box booths, up near the front entrance to the fairgrounds but Tumbleweed and I were able to convince a ticket taker to let us in for free anyway. We claimed that we were looking for employment. Under the circumstances, our backpacks proved to be our credentials and we were able to secure the waivers. We hurried to get lost in the STATE FAIR crowd just in case someone less sympathetic should try to revoke us.
Tumbleweed and I walked around the huge fairgrounds for a while but because we were broke, there was no point to it anymore. We had some food stamps from Kentucky but we didn't think that we could spend them at a fair. After all we weren't carnival people yet! Had we been, then the stamps, would have made excellent currency... but like I said before, we didn't know that at the time. However, sometime later, I did travel around with some "real" Romanian gypsies and they taught me that; nothing on earth will ever be free... from being claimed as currency. 

I wonder if their hiring, I thought out loud. "Who would you ask', Tumbleweed Replied, "Let's go ask the dude running that big ride back there, he looks cool", I said to Tumbleweed. I went up to the bearded Ferris Wheel "ride-operator" and asked him where I could go, to find out about some employment at the fair. The Ferris Wheel operator called someone over to take his place at the controls and then he ducked out of site behind the ride. Tumbleweed and I were close to walking away when the operator popped back out from behind the Ferris Wheel and directed my friend and I to another ride that was further on down the midway. Thinking that there was a possibility for employment, Tumbleweed and I made our way over to the so called "music ride".

"We're looking for Kim", I told the music ride operator, "we want to ask about a job" I added. "Stay right here", the ride-operator commanded, after which he also... ducked out behind the ride. Soon, he came back with Kim, who was the owner of the music ride.
"You guys are looking for work", Kim asked, as we were shaking hands? Tumbleweed and I both said yes. "Do you like to travel", the carnival boss asked us? Man, let me tell you what a rush of relief it was for me to hear him "pop" that question. Could it be, that me... and Tumbleweed, had just caught the ULTIMATE RIDE?

"The Show is going to Jackson, Mississippi... from here... and then onto to Shreveport, Louisiana after that", Kim told us. He went on to say that "the ride, travels by train but you guys can ride in the truck with me, after we tear-down here on Sunday night". I wanted to say, "where in Louisiana" back to the boss but because I couldn't even say Shreveport much less find it on a map I held off... not wanting to seem ignorant during the already odd interview.

"We're already traveling... but we're doin-it by thumb, so yea we want to travel with you", I told the boss. "OK, you're both hired... but before you can work you're going to have to, cut your hair, OR shave off that beard", Kim told me. Tumbleweed didn't have a beard, so he was exempt from the ultimatum. That rush of adrenaline, that I got just before being hired, jammed up in my throat and for a moment it seemed like Tumbleweed and I were going to be doomed to vagrancy, again. But wait a minute... maybe not!
"So, do I really have a choice", I asked the carnival boss. "Yea, it's one or the other, you can't have both and work here, it's a public relations thing", the boss replied. "OK, I'll cut my beard, but never my hair" I said! At that point I didn't expect to be immediately led out back to a camper trailer by my new carnival boss and then handed a mirror and a razor, right then and there, but that's exactly what happened! I remember feeling like a behind the scene, face prepping, circus entertainer.

I left my mustache to be as long as my beard hairs would allow but cleared a path down the middle of my chin so I had a ridiculously long "Fu Manchu" when I exited "the" make-up trailer. I presented my self to the "show boss" for inspection. He was waiting right outside. Apparently he didn't trust me as much as the last people who left me alone in their house did. After "knocking" my new look a little, the boss approved my appearance and put my friend and I right to work. Not many carnivals will turn down two strong men who are willing to travel. 

Tumbleweed and I stowed our gear under the ride before taking-up our new positions on THE MATTERHORN. The STATE FAIR MUSIC RIDE was hooked up to a 10,000 watt Altec Sound Equipment System and could spin 40  passengers around at 45 miles an hour. Riders, rode for about as long as a 45 record could play which is approximately, three and a half minutes... and a lot less than that when we were really busy.

I stayed on for eleven years but Tumbleweed went home after Jackson.

DOA DEAD ON ARRIVAL BAD NIGHT IN CHICAGO

Sneezing is supposed to stop a beating heart, but I just found out that this may not be true. Can it be, that I have wasted thousands of "God Bless Yous," on a stupid fallacy?  Beating hearts are ticking time bombs, but sneezing seldom "sets them off." A good heart hardly ever skips a beat.

Based on the average life span (66 years) of a human being, the heart beats about 2.5 billion times. It takes less than a second, for a heart beat to happen and more than a 100 mile an hour sneeze to stop it. If the heart stops beating for too long, then blood flow and breathing stop too.

"Clinical Death is a popular term for the cessation of blood circulation and breathing, it occurs when the heart stops beating in regular rhythm. Stopped circulation has historically proven irreversible in most cases. Prior to the advent of CPR, the absence of blood circulation was considered to be the official definition of death" (e-source). Being delivered, "dead on arrival" (DOA), to a hospital emergency room at 3 o'clock in the morning would have surely been "lights out" for me if the third best heart surgeon in the City of Chicago had not already been there tending to a more routine heart attack.

Dr. Samuel Joshujah is not a god, but he did bless me with a second birthday anyway. I heard him say, "I've got to cut him again," before I passed out for the second time that morning, so he must have saved me once before because I was already DOA ( no heart beat, no blood pressure, no pulse and not breathing) when I was first assigned to his care.

I was shitting, pissing, puking, and bleeding all over the emergency room table and I remember hearing a nurse, "blowing out her breakfast." I was trying to sit up, so that I could breath better, even while they were trying to put me back under, in order to perform seriously needed surgery. I had a collapsed lung, cut intestine and a stab wound in the heart. You don't drop and die after being stabbed in the heart or the guts, like they do in the movies.

I walked down a long hallway, up two flights of stairs, back down another long hallway, unlocked the door to my hotel room, and laid down on a bed, before eventually bleeding to death, after I was stabbed 3 times in the chest! My attackers must have been "dumb-founded boob tubers," because they just stood there in amazement as I walked away. I'm sure that they wished, they had "finished me off" after being locked up along with several other suspects, by the police. The cops were holding a bunch of people down at the jail just in case I did survive They were hoping that I would be able to identify the murderers, if I did live to tell. I did live, but I never told.

The cops were holding the right guys for sure, and I knew that, but like the Chicago Detective told my father, "I've been a Detective for 17 years and I never got a Carny to rat out another Carny, yet...¨ and so it still was, after questioning me. I had decided to leave the carnival world behind with the legacy intact.

Before I left the hospital, a visiting "carnival boss" told me that the guilty were last seen looking over their shoulders, so maybe something bad did happen to them.  But then again, nobody's talking! I stayed at Saint Anne's Hospital for 13 days. Dr. Samuel Joshuja was bent over me, looking directly into my eyes, when I finally came to after surgery. "Happy Birthday!" he said. These were the very first words that I remember hearing just after thinking to myself, back in the emergency room (a couple of days earlier) that I might not make it through "this one." "You have a new birthday," the good doctor informed me.

As a habit, I still don't keep track of time, but I am a "Life Changing-Experience Collector". Imagine how thrilled I am to have a new DOB after being DOA, to add to my unique collection.  Even if I can't, for the very life of me, remember the date. The exact time may have slipped my mind, but never has the name of the one who saved me. If you are a collector like me, then I recommend that you think twice about two birth dates in one life.