Wayne Lewman, 85, a resident of Bettendorf Health Care Center, tells Bill Wundram about his painful encounter with a circus camel a week ago at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport. (Photo by Larry Fisher/QUAD-CITY TIMES)
The Quad-City Times
Friday, April 27, 2012
Wayne Lewman may be the only man in the Quad-Cities who has camel hoofprints on the back of his head and on his arm and shoulder today.
A camel got the best of him at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.
Wayne, 85, and a retired clarinetist with some big circuses, lives at the Bettendorf Health Care Center. He perked up when he was told that Circus Pages — a top-notch small circus — was playing April 20 in an exhibition hall at the Davenport fairgrounds. He still has sawdust in his blood and is not one to miss a circus.
A friend, not employed by the health care center, agreed to take Wayne to the circus in a wheelchair.
Unfortunately, the friend, while pushing the wheelchair, tripped. Wayne says that tipped him into the camel pen. The circus carries four camels that were in the enclosure, chewing their cud. Camels are dumb, unfriendly animals that will spit and kick.
When Wayne was dropped in the pen, the camels became upset. One took after him. “I was scared, knocked down. I didn’t know what was happening,” he says. “I was kicked in the head, one stepped on my arm.”
The camel keeper came to his rescue, shooing the big animals away. Wayne’s wounds were cleaned of blood. An ambulance was called to take him to the hospital, but he stubbornly refused. He wanted to go inside and see the circus. But he finally agreed to return to the nursing home, where his wounds were treated.
On Tuesday, the health care center staff insisted he go to the doctor. They thought he had a broken arm. He didn’t.
“Whatever happened to you?” he was asked at the doctor’s office.
“I got trampled by a camel,” he replied, which raised some eyebrows.
“This could have been much worse,” said Carrie Kulla, a nurse at the health care center.
We visited there on Wednesday. Wayne was wearing a Circus Pages cap and was eager to tell about his experience. He took his cap off to display the head wound, a bump and lacerations. “See the hoofprint,” he said.Then he laughed, saying, “I’m glad I didn’t fall into the elephant pen.”
Wayne was a windjammer, a term for circus musicians, for many years of his long life. He played in the bands of major circuses such as Cole Bros.-Clyde Beatty and Kelly-Miller. It’s ironic that a retired circus man would get banged up at a circus.
“I began with the old Daily Bros. Circus at $25 a week, playing two shows a day,” he says. “I made money on the side hanging banners for businesses around the big top. That extra money was called cherry pie. I had to quit playing in circus bands after having a stroke.”
Sadly, he said, “I don’t think I’m going to the circus again for a long time.”
When we parted, he said in a firm voice, “I never did like camels.”
Read more: http://www.qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/year-old-survives-trampling-by-camel/article_86f1d012-9027-11e1-910f-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1tH9pXgr4