The purpose of this blog is to share stories from the road of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown Alley. With this resource we can relive those days and have a better understanding of the transitions within Clown Alley over the years. I feel historically it's important to share these stories for future generations. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Home sweet home

 A beautiful description of the Venice Winter Quarters from my dear friend Jim Howle, graduate of the very first Clown College in 1968.

 Please click on the picture to read and prepare yourself. It might make you cry. Thanks for sharing this Jim.

Wonderful memories of that magical place we called home...

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh Venice Winter Quarters.... boy does that bring back memories!!!

    I grew up in Sarasota, and it was a family tradition to go watch a rehearsal or two each season. It was back when rehearsals were open to the public, or at least during certain times. It was something I always looked forward to - the clowns fascinated me...

    I remember one particular year, as I was getting older ( I think I was around 9 or 10?) we went more than once. There was a clown that waved to us, and remembered us when we came back the second time. He seemed to enjoy paying us a little extra attention...

    When rehearsals were over and we went to the show in all its glory, we were sitting on the south side of the arena, quite far up in the seats. A clown - the one that had waved to us in the rehearsal - was in the audience goofing around, and as I watched him work the crowd, I realized he was coming up our isle... higher... higher -right towards us!

    He stopped when he reached us, and it seemed he recognized us and he stopped and smiled a huge smile, and bent down on one knee to talk to us. He said hello to my sister... and me.... and I was frozen. "Ohmygod" I thought..."He has a real voice!" I was enchanted! He began to talk to my mom - small talk - I wasn't listening to him, I was too busy studying his face, and in awe that he was TALKING! I remember him asking my mom if we lived locally.... my mom answered yes - and he said, "I'm from Buffalo, NY" - I'm sure my jaw dropped open...

    I was not frightened - I was mesmerized. "This guy is real, he's from a town, he lives in a house.....he's real..." - You see, I'd been so enchanted by clowns, they never seemed real to me. I'd watch them with glee, but it never occurred to me that when the show was over, they'd leave, take off their makeup and go be real people. This young man talking to us was an Auguste... had black curly hair that was his own (not a wig). Big red nose... wore a hat. I do not remember the color, or what he was wearing.

    Roughly 10 years later after I'd received my bartending certificate, I went to work for ABC in Venice, and that fall I met quite a few guys from the 1976 CC. They became regulars, we became friends.

    The rest is history -