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, July 4, 2010

Frankie Saluto

This photo is courtesy of Jim Howle
Frankie was a clown from the early days on Ringling. Supposedly he was discovered by John Ringling North.
  Mr. Ringling would buy a newspaper every morning outside Boston Garden from Frankie who was living in a cardboard box. 
Mr. Ringling took a liking to him and offered him a job. 
  From the stories I've heard one thing he always did was go around and fire people with pink slips whenever you upset him. Unfortunatley he had left the show the year before I came. 
But I was lucky enough to have met him in Venice. He was staying at the Bonita motel under the care of Fred and Laura Landrum who were the proprieters and always welcomed the circus people in town whenever they were there. I was also the recipient one of his famous pink slips which I still have. I take it out once in awhile and think about how it must have been to work with him.
 Below are some comments and memories from people who have written and commented because the picture had stirred some kind of memory from their past. 

"Mitch... were you in Macon, GA when it snowed and we kept finding little foot prints and a hole in the snow all the way back from the bar to the train?  We finally found Frankie sleeping on a hot rail next to the train.  "  Ron Jarvis


 "Down took it where you could get it. A hot rail in Macon, Georgia or on a rotting hammock in a quonset hut outside of the Chicago International Ampitheater. Sleep was sleep...but rest was rare and heavenly!  Eugene Pigeon

  "I hear you Eugene... but I am sure glad we found Frankie before the next train did." Ron Jarvis


 "I am glad you found him too. It is where Jonathan found Georgie Rollins also...shivering on the tracks. Jesus, life could be so thin on the road. It is a wonder it didn't take more of us. We found a guy in the snow by the train in Greensboro in 1979. Just a townie...looking for food and a place to hide.  Eugene Pigeon

 "Sounds like a song lyric from Woody Guthrie..."We found Frankie on the rail asleep, it was cold as hell...he had been kicked out of Macon, Georgia in the snow...and with a pink slip from the Bonita Motel!"  Everyday was a song lyric on the Ringling Show!" "Like I wrote this one for a showgirl in Chicago on moveout night. "She strutted past the Pie-Car...looking thinner than the soup du jour, there was more fat on the chicken legs than on her legs for sure. I asked if she would sit with me...and maybe have a bite...she said, Pidgeon, I know what you are hungry for...but this cafe is closed tonight!"" Eugene Pigeon

 We just figured Frankie got up to the rail and couldnt get over it so decided to just fall asleep. Jim Howle



  1. Frankie is actually my great-uncle! I remember seeing him whenever the circus came into town (Maryland). Sure would love to see more photos or hear more stories about him!

    Sonya Saluter-Comes

  2. There is now a postcard of Frankie on the haroldvoise blog found among his personal effects. He is feeding his little white rabbit a carrot. The postcard looks like was designed for him especially how the back is written...

  3. Amanda Mason RidgwayNovember 14, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Frankie Saluto was my Great Uncle, as well. He was my Grandmothers(Lucille Saluto Mason) older brother. She would make dinner for all of the clowns once a month in Worchester, MA. My father(Albert A. Mason Jr.) tells us many stories of the dinners. We stll have loads of pictures in our basement of he and the clowns. Uncle Frankie was one of a kind!