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Friday, March 7, 2008

It's official - There's no business like show business

"How about three of dem links?" That question popped up at every meal. My formative years were spent on the road. We followed the pageant trail. Up north in the winter months - Ice Queen, Snow Princess, Jill Frost, etc. The late summer and early fall ones were my favorites though; Corn Queen, Harvest Queen, even Kumquat Cutie. We didn't have much luck in the pageants until my Uncle Francis adopted the diminutive Lithuanian girl - Ausra (means "dawn" in Lithuanian). Ausra was a beauty, alabaster skin, deep blue eyes, golden hair. If it hadn't been for the growth on her right ankle, she could have been a serious contender for Ms. America or a "real" pageant. She carried herself regally even though she had to allow about six extra inches on her right for what we all just called the "lump". Did you ever wonder what life would be like if you never wondered what life would be like? I had another uncle that was an owner of a salt mine. Yes, a salt mine. Even if he was working a mine that the Morton company had abandoned twenty years before for a mineral that was getting pennies on the pound, he was proud to be the owner of a mine. He had a group of midgets that worked the mine because it had been abandoned not just for lack of production, but due to a collapse of most of the main shafts. The only way in and out was through the ventilation shafts. Little people were the best way to do that. He hired every midget and dwarf in the state at one point, or so it seemed. I never worked in the mines, but I did do payroll for him one summer. What a trip! How can you ever get where you are going if you don't know where you are? One other memory I have from childhood was of the circus. I had a distant cousin that was the bearded lady in the sideshow. She got me free cotton candy. I remember the elephant dung, it was as big as some of the little people that worked the salt mines! Feeding the big cats was cool as well. I used to watch as they threw in whole chickens and hams. The cats would gobble those babies up like they were milk duds. Well, more to come later. I have chickens to feed.

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