THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO MY TWIN BROTHER, BILL DYKES (1943-1995). WE WERE NOT ONLY BROTHERS BUT PARTNERS IN BUSINESS AND BEST FRIENDS! AND TO ALL THE "BUTCHERS" THAT HAVE PASSED ON TO THE BIG LOT IN THE SKY!

CIRCUS NOW OPEN!

2014 Convention

SAVE THE DATES

SAVE THE DATES

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Macomb’s great circus performer, Frank Gardner
By John Hallwas
McDonough County Voice
Jan. 20, 2013
Macomb, IL--Garnette and I recently visited Sarasota, our favorite town on the Gulf Coast. Aside from its great beaches, restaurants, and shops, Sarasota is known for the Ringling Museum, which features a wonderful collection of European art works, the beautiful John and Mable Ringling mansion, and a fascinating circus exhibit.
Looking at the circus collection (featuring memorabilia, wagons, photographs, and posters, plus a circus miniature display longer than a football field), I was reminded that Macomb had also produced a figure who made a notable contribution to the American circus tradition. An acclaimed performer, manager, and owner, Frank A. Gardner was raised in town 150 years ago. I located some information on him at the Ringling Museum library and archives.
An only child, Gardner was born at Oswego, New York, in 1855, and he came west with his parents several years later. They settled first in nearby Augusta. When his father died, his widowed mother, Jessey Gardner, moved to Macomb and struggled to make a living as a domestic servant. Like a figure in one of Horatio Alger’s bestselling rise-to-success novels, young Frank did odd jobs and became “the man of the family” at an early age. He was small of stature but remarkably strong.
His big break came in the winter of 1868-1869, when the James T. Johnson Circus (one of many that toured the country) decided to winter in Macomb---a town that had hosted many a circus, starting in the 1850s. The Johnson Circus continued to winter in town for several years. Contact between local residents and the performers prompted several youngsters to work toward careers in “tumbling” or “leaping” (that is, acrobatics).
Gardner was apparently the first of them. He became an apprentice who worked initially as a bareback rider, then performed as an acrobat. According to an article by W. H. Hainline in the 1905 “Macomb Journal,”
“Gardner’s [impoverished] mother moved to a log cabin on N. McArthur Street. . . . It was there, after he started his career, that he would do his springboard training, preparing for his circus season’s work. He had a big mat that he would spread in the yard, and on this he would spend several hours each day, in active training. . . . His [tumbling] work would naturally draw large crowds, especially of small boys, and as a result, almost every hayloft in the city, for a time, would be full of kids practicing to follow the life of a circus showman.”
read more:
http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20130120/NEWS/130118930

No comments:

Post a Comment


TO VISIT OUR PAST POSTS--SCROLL DOWN THE SIDE BAR. ALSO LINKS ARE FURTHER DOWN