Sheltering in Place – Day 65

Here’s something I wrote a few years back, but I thought I would visit it again. It’s a wonderful story about my mother and her circus days. Topsy and the Apple Pie Judy Garland used to sing the song, “I Was Born In A Trunk At The Princess Theatre.” I often sing “I Was Born ON A Trunk At Ringling Brothers Circus.” My parents met and married at Ringling Brothers during the early forties. She started out as a First of May, he an elephant handler. Her professional name was Jerull Deane. His was Whitey Haven. Within a couple of years, Mom worked her way up to a specialty act with the elephants. My father worked his way up to being an elephant trainer. They both loved working with these large but sweet-natured animals. My mother used to say one of the reasons she fell in love with my father was because he didn’t use the eye hook, or let any of his men use them, either. He was kind and loving to his charges, and she adored the man…

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What Do I Do Besides Write?

I was a guest speaker at a Women’s Book Club in Berkeley recently, a group that has been meeting for thirty plus years. They honored me by reading my noir mystery novel, Death of a Clown and wanted to discuss the novel with me. I brought pictures of my mother (and a couple of me as a baby) during my parents’ stint in the circus. Also a costume Mom wore back in the early 40s! See photo right. If I could have gotten into it, I might have worn it to the event. Well, maybe. It was a lot of fun, sharing with this charming group of readers an insider’s view of circus life, although I was so young I don’t remember much. But I had Mom’s mountainous notes to guide me.  By the way, I’m the kid sitting on the elephant’s head.

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Ringling Brothers Circus, Mom and Me

So long, Ringling Brothers. You were a large part of my life from since I can remember. I even used the every day life of the circus, fueled by stories told me by my mother, as the subject for a standalone mystery noir, Death of a Clown. But more on that later. Judy Garland used to sing the song, “I Was Born In A Trunk At The Princess Theater.” I often sing “I Was Born ON A Trunk At Ringling Brothers Circus.” That’s because my parents met and married at Ringling Brothers during the early forties. She started out as a First of May, he an elephant handler. Her professional name was Jerull Deane. His was Whitey Haven. Within a couple of years, Mom worked her way up to a specialty act with the elephants. My father worked his way up to being head elephant trainer. They both loved working with these large but sweet-natured animals. My mother used to say one of the reasons she fell in love with my father was because he didn’t use the eye hook, or let…

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