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Thursday, May 15, 2008

'Round in Circles

"Whoa! What is that smell!!" If I had a dime for everytime I heard that one... I will always remember the two summers I spent working for my "Uncle" Boris. He and his wife Agnes had a little company that made costumes and props for performing animals. You know, the little jackets for the dancing bears, the headdresses for the horses and elephants, etc. My job was as a go-fer, and I had the dubious honor of measuring the animals for size. You haven't lived until you try to get an inseam measurement from a chimp. I especially remember one week when Boris was trying to develop a special unicycle for a bear. The circus people wanted it to look like a regular unicycle, but you can imagine the difficulty here - hey, it had to support a bear! I was measuring a Zebra for a coat, and I heard a terrible crash. I ran over to the shed where Boris was working and saw him on the ground. He was screaming and wailing like he had been shot. I found out later that was the day that Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Brothers merged. Boris always liked to play one off the other when it came to pricing, so he was distraught (to say the least) at losing that opportunity. Boris was sitting there amongst oversized unicycle parts just cursing to beat the band. Eventually Boris had to shut his business down as Romanian imports and the further consolidation in the circus biz killed his trade. I learned a lot those two summers. I can still tell you the coat size of a horse from twenty paces. Tally Ho!

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