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interviewed by Andrew Huse.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (83 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Showmen's oral history project
Charles Schlarbaum describes his experiences as a circus musician and bandleader. He has performed with many different circuses, including Ringling Brothers, Clyde Beatty, Hunt Brothers, Cristiani, Garden Brothers, and Hanneford. Schlarbaum provides a great deal of information on the various circus bands and musicians who performed in them.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Interview conducted October 31, 2008.
International Independent Showmen's Association.
Huse, Andrew T.
International Independent Showmen's Association.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 2009, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.
! Showme n's Oral History Project Oral Histo ry Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier : S59 00004 In terviewee: Chuck Schlarbaum Interview by: Andrew (Andy) Huse Interview date: October 31, 2008 Interview location: Showmen's Associ ation, Gibsonton, Florida Transcribed by: Kimberly Nordon Transcription date: November 17, 2008 to December 1, 2008 Audit Edit by: Maria Kreiser Audit Edit date: March 25, 2009 Final Edit by: Arlen Bensen Final Edit date: April 23, 2009 And rew Hu se : All right, today is Halloween [October 31] 2008 I'm here down in Gibsonton. This is Andrew Huse. I'm here in G ibsonton, Florida, at the Showme n's Association and first of all, I want to thank you for being here with us today on behalf of the USF [Univ ersity of South Florida] Tampa Library and the Oral History Program. I wanted to introduce Chuck Schlarbaum D id I say that correctly? Okay. And he's a musician and bandleader for many years in circuses and carnivals? Is that right? Okay, so first of all, thanks for being with us today, and all right where were you born and when? Charles Schlarbaum : Benton, Iowa, January 9, 1938. AH: Okay, and then when did you first start to getting into music? CS: Well, my mother and father both played and I started in grade school grade school orchestra. AH: Okay, now when your parents played, did they play did they, like, did they entertain like you did in the circus or carnival? CS: No. AH: Okay, all right, did they play professionally? Or CS: My dad did to a certain extent and he could have done more but he went into a different line of business. AH: Okay, all right, well so then whe re did you first start to get some of your, kind of, musician's training? Was it with your parents or did you go to school, or did you pick it up by ear?
! # CS: Well, in school I started off you know with that. AH: Okay, and what did you play? CS: I was playing trumpet but then they switched me around to different things they were short on. AH: Okay, so over your life, what's y our favorite instrument to play? D o you have one? CS: No. AH: Okay, well, you kind of, just, a just play around with a lot of differen t things? CS: Well, whatever required. AH: Okay, yeah that well, that seems like a common theme throughout the circus and carnival world. People are kind of jacks of all trades to some extent? CS: I guess so. AH: All right, well, I have this this great little chronolo gy of your work here and so you did graduate from high school in Oregon, and then it says here in fifty five  to fifty eight  you were solo cornet in the Thirty Third Army Band So did you join the [U.S.] Army, or were you drafted? CS: No, I joined the Army. AH: Okay, and so what was life like in the Army playing music? CS: Great. No problems, just a job. AH: So what kind of events did you play at? CS: We were the headquarters band for the United States Army in Europe So the number three three doesn't mean anything, because we were the number third band in the Army. You got the Army Band the Army Field Band a nd then the USAREUR Command B and. AH: Okay. All right, so CS: So you're playing in dignitaries, you go o n concert tours, and you do all of that. You have to handle all the duties at headquarters there for retreat and all of that. AH: And so that was in Heidelberg, then? CS: (murmurs in agreement)
! $ AH: All right, so so then how did you get into the circu s? How did you trans you know, transition into that? CS: Oh, I was interested in the circus before I got in to before I went in the Army, from my dad's adopted family. A ll the brothers were musicians and they were on the road and as you get more informati on fr om April [a member of the Showme n's Association], you'll see my great uncle started leading band on the shows in 1913. So we go back a ways. AH: Wow, okay, so that's your uncle who played. CS: Great uncle. AH: Great uncle, all right. So then fifty eight  is when you first started with the circus and so, how did that differ ? CS: No, I've been around the circus before, but not as a musician. Summertime I'd go out for a while. AH: And what kind of things did you do in the circus befor e you played music? CS: Well, I'll tell you, most everybody that amounts to anything in the circus business, their hand fits a shovel. You start from the bottom up and learn the trade. You had a lot of people that want to be a star in six months. Got a few of those wandering around today. It's just like the carnival business; mo st is tradition but run a different way. It's totally different now. AH: Okay, but back then you started at the very bottom. CS: Yup. AH: Okay, so you wielded a shovel, t hen, for a while? CS: For a while. AH: Any other kind of odd jobs? CS: Around the concession department. Basically it was around animals originally. And I was thought I wanted to be an animal man originally, anyways, so I changed my mind. C ourse in t hose days Clyde Beatty [Clyde Beatty Circus] was everybody's (laughs) idol, you know? AH: Okay, and what what animals did he work with? CS: You never heard of Clyde Beatty, and you been doing all this history?
! % AH: I've just started, sir. CS: Wilsons [the Wilson sisters of Gibsonton] didn't tell you anything? AH: No. CS: (laughs) AH: We talked about her experience. CS: Oh, okay. Yeah, Clyde Beatty, my God, he made he was one of the greatest trainers of all time, cat trainers. Well, you know, t igers and lions and all of that. I'm surprised you never heard about that. AH: So, what drew you to the circus originally? CS: I don't know, circus, some people want to be a part of it, and that's all. AH: Okay. All right, so then playing in the cir cus, how did that differ from your musician's experience before that? I guess, you know before you were playing, you know, in the Army Band. How did playing in the circus differ? CS: Well, I already knew what it took before I was in the Army band. Thro ugh my great uncle, I already knew that. And the band leader around Clyde Beatty knew my great uncle in the old days, Vic Robbins [Vic tor H. Robbins, bandleader] did you know I already knew what it required. AH: Okay, and so what did they require? CS : Well, a lot more than playing in the Army band, I'll tell you. Well, you had to be knowledgeable 'bout all types of music and be able to sit down and cut it and have the endurance to do that. AH: Yeah, I mean, how long would a typical performance last? CS: Well, you're running two hours So, on a the three show day, y ou're behind that horn for six hours. AH: That's a lot of lung power, right? CS: And in the old days when they paraded, you had to do the parade in the morning. And then they 'd have an after show. T he Wild West, would be after the main show and you had to play for the Wild West. Then make the cookhouse and come back and play a little bit before the show started while people were coming in.
! & AH: So the Wild West show was held separ ately from the circus and stuff? CS: Yeah, they called it the Concer t, yeah. And people would go through the seats and sell tickets to that, during t he main show. They had what they call ed the lineup and the band would hit a gallop and i n come the cowbo ys and line up o n the track there, and then the announcer would tell all about the sports and pastimes of the golden west, and (laughs) AH: Okay, so CS: And they'd sell the twenty five cent tickets and tell the people they could all sit in the reserved seats, so there was a reason for that C ause they were tearing everything else down getting ready to tear the show down and load it on the train. AH: I gotcha. Now, so, the Wild West show, was that kind of inspired by Buffalo Bill's show, then? CS: Yeah, well, period they'd we'd have, like, Cisco Kid on there or Jack Steel, people like that would go on the road. Ken May nard, which was before my time. Hop along Cassidy did it on the Cole show [Cole Brothers Circus]. Tom Mix had his own circus. So it was an attraction for city folks. AH: Yes, yeah, a romantic look at the west. CS: Yeah, right. AH: So now, did the how did the style of music change from act to act ? Like in the circus itself, did it change much? Or was it kind of the same numbers, or ? Like between the Wild West show, the circus, the after show? CS: Well, it depends on the act, what you're going to play for it Some acts would have their own music and s ome didn't. But it just takes a you know, you have to be experienced and you find out what the act does and then you know what's going to fit, if you know the business. It's not the same tunes all the time, every year. But for a during the season, once you lay out the musical program for the show it doesn't change. Because the people outside the tent that are getting ready and all that, when they hear the band play, they know how long they got b y what tune the band's playing. And if all the sudden i f you I used to use Hello Dolly and some different tones if we got in trouble. W hen they heard a change in that musical program that didn't belong there, everybody'd come running b ecause they knew somethin' was up, somebody fell or something. AH: Oh, I see. CS: We would have to get right in there and go with the running order. We got to go right on ahead.
! AH: So if something went wrong then CS: Yeah. AH: you'd plug the gap with other music. CS: Yeah, well, it would sig it would ale rt the people in the backyard, w ill alert the people in the backyard and around the show that somethin' was wrong so AH: Well, it so it sounds like the it really differed back then because music was kind of the backbone of the whole show, in a way, right? CS: Well, music, costume, lights, yeah, that was a part of it. AH: Well, it helped dictate the kinda, the pace of the show and the you know, yeah. So did you ever play for girly acts [a combination of burlesque and tease show]? CS: I wouldn't say girly act s, I was on the carnival, but it was a review, there are different types of girls' shows. I think you are well aware of that. AH: Yes. CS: If you'd like to borrow a boo k that a friend of mine, he's a historian wrote about the girl shows, I will loan th at to you. AH: Okay. CS: Because I'm quoted in there. AH: Oh, really? Okay, and what did you discuss? C S: You know, I was on Strates [James E. Strates] f ifty car railroad show and we had what they Jack Norman was there it was Jack Nor man's Broadway to Hollywood Revue But you had a line of girls, the regular chorus line and a band and comedia n and several different variety type acts. You worked on a stage, you know, and it was a tent but it's specially built, you know, curtain s, a backdro p, the whole thing. Y ou'd have a production number to open the show and [a] production number to introduce the feature at the en d, and, like, a parade number. Jack wrote h e was a heck of a comedy writer he wrote the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show He wrote Dagwood and Blondie Radio S how and all of that. His wife was a choreographer, and Jack was a became a producer, that's all. Used to be on the road, he had tab shows out and they' d play theaters before he got in the carnival business. I n fact, An n Miller, the dancer, broke in on Jack's show. And I learned a lot from Jack. I t was great. We had a good relationship.
! ( AH: Yeah, I mean, what are the kinda things that you learned? CS: Huh? AH: What are the kinds of things that you learned from him? CS: Well, it's a different type of production than the circus, you know. Timing and ideas and all of that, you know, and he gave me an open hand, too, so that's what AH: So you were able to what, did you write material or ? CS: Yeah, yeah. AH: Okay, s o how many compositions would you say that you wrote, I mean? CS: I don't know I have no idea about that. A lot of stuff was more to do with arranging than composing, which is an art in itself, arranging is. AH: Of course. Okay, well, and it seems like over the years the the kind of stereotype for the girl shows is that slide trombone (makes trombone noise) you know? That, that CS: Not to my knowledge. AH: Okay, that burlesque CS: The drummer works harder than anybody. No, it wasn't the, what you normally hear on a TV or somethin' that you think, "T hat's a burlesque show band. No it was, a little more refined than that. (laughs) AH: I see. Okay, so so your first circus experience was with Cristiani and that CS: Cristiani and you pronounce it Or egon (pronounces this Or uh GUN ) not O regon (pronounces this OR eh gahn ). So I know you're from down east or something there AH: Yeah, born in the Midwest. CS: I was born in Iowa and I can still pronounce Oregon, and they all say Colorado (pronoun ces this Col oh RAID oh). AH: (laughs) Okay. CS: Colorado, come on, what is this. (laughs) AH: Well, I just recently learned to say New Orleans, without offending any southerners, so.
! ) CS: Well, they pronounce that so many ways. I played I played N ew Orleans so oh my! On that Clyde Beatty was when I ha d the band over there, we I played it nine years straight. Then I stepped off of there and went Tommy Hanniper and played it again [for] three years straight, but indoors and using my road crew and th en we added on, we'd have about sixteen guys playing the show. I thoroughly enjoy that town. And that's changed too. AH: Certainly. So did you do a lot of learning on the road from other musicians? It sounds like there was a lot of cross pollination between the musicians and arrangers and everything else. CS: I don't know. I already knew what I was doing when I came there so I probably learned a few things but not from any circus musicians, you know. AH: Okay. CS: 'Cause when I do New York I have people who been on the [John Philip] Sousa Band. One guy was personnel manager for the [Edwin Franko] Goldman Band up there for Richard 'cause Edwin had died, Richard had the band. I met people like that, and then the arrangers from the big publishing ho uses started visiting when I got over there. Word got out, don't ask me why. (l aughs) AH: So, they'd come to you? CS: They fi gured somethin' was coming up. T hey did the same for Uncle Merle Evans, too They'd be out there. They'd come along with a ba tch of arrangements from their publishing house under one arm and maybe a twelve pack under the other. (l aughs) "Hi, I'm Paul Yoder, Harold Walters [Harold L. Walters] told me about you. Can you use any of these in the show?" You know. "Whatever you need, give us a call." You know (laughs) AH: So what were they trying to sell you arrangements or give them to you? CS: No, give them to you. Get exposure. AH: So, try to get those arrangements used more and get them into circulation? CS: Yeah. Right. AH: Okay, so are there any particular companies or publishers that you thought they did the best work, or ? CS: I don't know about the best work, but because, well, Harold Walt ers wrote for Ru bank [Rubank Music Publishing] basically all the time. He was a [U S ] Navy musician and he was [an] arranger for the Navy Band and played tuba in there. The n he went with Warner Broth ers and he wrote a lot of scene music for films, one of them is
! Picni c , that dream sequence in there, Harold did that. Anyway, he came on board with Rubank and but he wrote principally for school band or community bands, but it was, like, a little simplified, he cut it down where it was playable, you know? It would be playable by a real professional concert band. But he did things that appealed to high school band directors and such as that. So that was his fort And, of course, that Paul Yoder, my God, he was all over the world representing several music and pu blishing houses and he arranged all kinds of stuff and original works as well as Harold wrote original works too. So, you run into those people while you're out there and you run into quite a few well, I get around West Point my God, half the West Point ba nd want to come out and play the show with us and their band director would come out in fact, I was offered to go back in the service as assistant conductor at West Point. AH: Really? CS: Yup. AH: Okay. And this was based on your experience in the circu s as well? CS: Yup. AH: Okay, but what, you enjoyed being on the road too much, is that it? CS: Well, I chose it didn't hurt me, I did it and that's that. T hat's where I wanted to be. AH: Sure, I understand. Well, I see there's a lot of circuses li sted here; are there any specific [ ones] you want to talk about that were kind of special for musicians? CS: Not re ally, it's all about the same. S ome of it is smaller bands than other [ones] And some of those shows there, like King Brothers and Sells & Gray, we had a they were all we when I was with the Clyde Beatty organization they developed two more units they had on the road that were smaller unit s. So I was around those for a while announcing, leading the band, selling tickets; whatever you had t o do, you know, your extra money jobs or and when the opening finally came on Beatty's show they said, "Come on." I was trying to get there before. T hey wouldn't do it. T hey said, "We need you here." (l aughs) AH: Okay, so now, when you did announcing that was announcing the acts that came on? CS: Yeah. AH: Okay. CS: And I was performance director, the whole thing; you put the show together and put it line it up so it fits 'cause with all the aerial rigging, and the props you have, and all
! "+ of that, you 'v e got to lay out a show so it runs smoothly. That's so you're not slowing down the pace of the show. An d depending on how many people you actually have a lot of them do two or maybe three acts. S o you got to think about their costume change s and all of that. Just have can't have them do ing one act and then they're right t here doing the next one. Say, "Oh, t hey're that's the same ones." (l aughs) AH: Yes, they needed time to change. CS: So t hey're doubling in brass you know. AH: Okay, so now it loo ks like in 1961 you made the transition to bandleader. (Sound of jet plane nearby) Now before that CS: I made the transition in 1959. AH: Okay. CS: I made it in fifty nine  on the Hunt Show, that's Stella Worth there; her sister was May Worth, a nd. which you haven't got into all that history and I'm turn you on to that Circus Historical Society, where you get some input there. And I don't kno w if you interviewed Buckles Wo odcock [Willia m "Buckles" Woodcock] down in Ruskin [Florida] yet or not. A H: No. CS: 'Cause he's a about three generations in this business and he's got a blog site [a n online diary] 1 You've not heard about that either, I don't think. AH: No, I think Joanne Wilson mentioned that to me. CS: 'Cause a you met him over there, the guy with the breathing machine I'm having a senior moment. AH: Um, I'm not sure. CS: Bill Strong. AH: Okay. CS: He's got a website, too. AH: Can I borrow your can I borrow your pen, and I'll write it down. CS: It's called "Yesterday's Towns." 2 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !,-!./!01 234!#++*5 !67389:-!;..<3.38!41!1!=9.>!1?! 4??@ABB=7389:-CD=9.>-@.?D3.EB D
! "" AH: Yes, that's the one that Joanne told me about. CS: Okay, then the other one is Buckles and just give me your email and I will forward the blog to you. Then you can go ahead and get his address and get on his list. Tell him what you're doing, menti on my name, 'c ause he's already got Chuck Mayo on the list, 'cause I informed him about Chuc k and got Chuck on the list. S o you'll pick up a lot there, especially about animals. On Bill's site you'll pick up about a lot of families and a lot of different acts. AH: Now you said that the other one is just called Buckles? That's it? CS: Well that's his name, Buckles. AH: Oh. CS: Buckles Woodcock. But what I'll do is get you a I'll forward you his website so you can get subscribed to it and all of that. A H: That sounds great. CS: And you know, email him and explain it's Buckles. His email address is buckles w all lower case at tampabay dot r r dot com. [firstname.lastname@example.org] AH: Okay. CS: You'll pick up a lot of things t here. Anyway, I came over there. I played the Beatty show that spring at Palisade s Park [ Palisades Park, N ew J ersey; an amusement park ] 'cause Hunt's always opened May one, and they closed Labor Day. And, by the way, that was the oldest running family owned show in the history of s how business. 'Cause Ringling s they, kind of, changed around (laughs) they kept the title but it changed around. So Stella Wi rth, then, her brother owned that's where Frank Wi rth's circus comes in, there her brother at that was her brother in law, he too k the family name. He [was] Australian, they were, and I came over there and Stella's husband had died Phil St. Leon, and she said and I had met her the year before, we came to Long Island jump ed from Akron, Ohio onto Long Island with Cristiani, a nd we h a d a couple of days off to make the jump. And I was in there early, so I went and visited the show and the trumpet player was under the weather. (Inaudible) AH: What did he ? CS: So, I sat in and played the show. S o that's when I first met Stella and that's when I first met Harry and Charlie Hunt, you know. So that fall I got a letter from Mr. Hunt. (l aughing) He s ays, "Can you drive a truck?" (l aughs) So I did. I we had a school bus !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!! # !,-! ./!01234!#++*5!6F99!G?2.H>!41!1!=9.>!1?! 4??@ABBI:-?:2<1I-?.CH-D=9.>-@.?D3.EB D
! "# fix ed up with bunks and all. It was nice. It was the band sleeper. A n d I think the one clown slept in there, too. A nd then there was a partition in the safety door, was a state room back there. And Joe Gilligan, the transportation boss, that was his apartment back there, so, that all worked out. AH: So you CS: So I got t here and Stella already knew who I was, 'cause she'd met me. So she says I think maybe it was a test more than anything else she says, "Woul d you lay out the music program for the show?" (l aughs) So I did, and I wound up startin' and stopping the band and Stella's back there playing [the] Hammond Organ, you know, and that so she was the band leader, but what can I tell you. Then that summer she said, "You're spinnin g your wheels around here. My brother in law's got a show" indoor show, big beautiful. A nd she s ays "His bandleader's coming." But I said w ell, Mickey Solomon out of Washington Mass. [Massachusetts] there. S o that fall after we closed, I went and did Eastern States Expo sition with Mickey and we did the rodeo there and the musical ride of th e Canadian Mountain Police Nowadays they're working to tapes. B efore it was a live band, you know. So then that spring I went on over with Mickey, and we'd have sometimes two units at a time and I'd be leading the band on one unit and him on the ot her, or he'd take off and I'd be leading the whatever unit we had. So we did Frank that was basically a spring time show, 'cause you'd open in Long Island Easter vacation and then make the Shrine Circus at Harford, Shrine Circus, Springfield, Mass. We had Syracuse New York Shrine Circus, Utica, Montreal, and that was about it. So you'd finish up in the middle of May or somewhere in there. So, that one year I jumped on I stayed in Worcester one summer with him and it was although, he didn't have that muc h work do a few park concerts and some regattas and things and then went out and the old days they had grandstand shows on the at the fair, what circus acts, high a cts or whatever and George Hami d, who used to be partners with Wi rth, but George Hamid built the Steel P ier in New Jersey, Atlantic City. And George had a lot of those grandstands at the fair so we'd go and do that, go play for those, so. And you had to play some different acts on there too. It just wasn't all circus on there. Hal Sands had a line of girls and he couldn't say Radio Cit y Rockettes, so it was Hal Sand s Manhattan Rockettes. (l aughs) AH: Rockettes, nice. CS: So, you played di fferent acts, you know, but you that you normally didn't play on the circus, you know. AH: Now you mentioned a lot of different kinds of acts and I guess what I'd like to do is just kind of list out a few of them, a few of those different kinds. 'Cause we w ent over a bunch of stuff. L ike you mentioned rodeos
! "$ CS: Yup. AH: And there are a few live ban ds still but I guess not many. Most of it is canned music. CS: Not that I hear of, because if I heard the last guy that had any steady work at the rodeos was Winston Schied ler and he moved from Baton Rouge and retired down here [in] Ellenton [Florida] he lives in Ellenton, 'cause last ti me I saw him I was leading the Shrine B an d at that Gamble Mansion. [Gamble Plantation Histori c State Park, Ellenton, Florida] T hey 've got an open house, you know, and so they used to donate money for the childr en's hospital and we 'd go an d play a concert there A nd Schie d l er was over there visiting, you know, "Hi, I heard you guys were coming," you know, and he was Merle Evans 's nephew, Schie d l er was is Merle Evans Between the two of us, he did the first half of the century, I h e went from the showboat s and Buffalo Bill and all of that and I took it the rest of the way. AH: Okay. Gotcha. W ell, that's a real chunk of history, I mean, between the two of you. CS: Well, there were a lot of people in between that were pretty fair bandl eaders, but I guess they al l didn't get the same publicity. And don't ask me why, but there was a lot of good ones out t here. Unfortunately not too many of us left. AH: Yeah. W ell, I guess when you made th at transition from being a musician to being a bandleader, what CS: It was already i n my mind. AH: Yes. Y ou already had ambitions to do that? CS: I was already experimenting with the high school band, writing arrangements and wrote a march, blah bl ah b lah, and I had a little dance band that I was leading and all that. I already had a things in my mind at that time, so. AH: Okay. Now w hat what kind of different skills does it take to be a bandleader as opposed to I mean, obviously you have to you have to lead a whole an entire band and this, as you mentioned before, with the trumpeter under the weather, it you have to manage people so CS: Yeah. AH: So what was that like for you? Was that ? CS: Well, fortunately I didn't have too many of those incide nts. I mean, you got to hire people. You got to know backgrounds and all that. I've had them write for a job and say "Well, fortunately in this modern day drug infested society I've been able to blah blah blah" and they come on, they're worse (laug hs) tha n anybody else around, you know.
! "% A nd I had to make a tradition after a while, on Clyde Beatty, a lot of the old timers are retiring after, you know when I went on there I was the youngest guy on the band, you know, and I knew differen t guys that I met around, or had played on me with me o n Cristiani or I had met, you know. S o I was able to put together all old timers, you know. We were experienced and I knew everybody's habits on there. I knew everybody's habits on there, so. But see, I only made on e change and I didn't even make a change the first season on that show. Second season I did make a couple of changes AH: This is the Wi rth show? CS: No, Clyde Beatty. AH: Oh, okay, sorry. CS: We never changed m usicians on the Wi rth. W e hired local musicians. We carried eight and we'd hire whatever it was to come up to the local union for their minimum, for the building. AH: Oh, I see. So, how many pieces typically were in the band, then? I mean I know it varied a lot. CS: Yeah, that's the thin g. I t varied. I mean Clyde Beatty it carried eight all the time. Frank Wi rth we carried eight all the time. And on the indoor s how, some o f them, you're down Merle on that Ringling Show, he was down to organ, trumpet and drums and then he hired had to br eak in guys in every town, which is a pain. AH: Yeah, I bet. CS: And he had a tough show, laid out production numbers and all that. You try and cram a two hour show into a into a two hour rehearsal paid rehearsal, and you don't want to go into overtime, you know. So you hire you hire a contractor in each town and word trav els about those contractors. Y ou know, they hire the guys that are used to play in g the ice show or whatever come through town. So you got guys that, what w e call in the business are "f ly." I n other words they set they sight read. They know what it's about. So t hat took some of the pain off. B ut East Overshoe, Arkansas, or something, watch out Merle used to when I went in doors with Hanneford there after Clyde Beat ty, when I started playing Hanne ford States, boy you never knew what you were getting in some of those towns. A nd Merle Evans would say, "When are you going to play Roanoke, Virginia, Chuck?" He says, "That's the worst band I ever had there." Well, finally when I wen t with Ian Garden, we had Roanoke one year. AH: Okay.
! "& CS: And I got Ian's wife was my vocalist, beautiful. S he was a club singer out of out of Montreal originally and a great voice, great voice, and we played there and I had to write out some Streis an d charts and all of that for the opening and Mickey's s inging W ell, two hour later I'm still rehearsing (laughs) the opening of the show and the secretary of the union is sitting ther e and playing in the band. H e's he tells me, "Remember, we don't do th is for a livin g now." (l aughs) And Ian come and he says, "What's happening?" And I said, "I haven't even got ten to the show yet." (l aughs) A nd I sai d, "Who's paying the band in this spot for the local guys?" I said, "I'm I gotta go into overtime here." (l a ughs) AH: What? It was taking them a long time to get it, huh? CS: Yeah. (l aughs) AH: Okay. And t hat was in Roanoke, right? CS: Yeah. And, like, we had a week off. I don't know wh y he booked that way down there. M aybe he's breaking the jump for everybo dy to get to Canada. 'C ause next week we're in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, and I got twenty six guys th at everybody sits down, "Bang," we played it through the rehearsal and we're gone. (l aughs) AH: So that sounds like a challenge then, having to pick up musicians. CS: Yeah. Oh, yeah. AH: Okay. W hat other kind of challenges were there on the road? I mean, you were you were very confident as a musician and an arranger obviously. B ut what other kind of things did you have to deal with? New musicians, you had CS: You're dealing with the union too, in a lot of town s. Under the what they called the Blue B ound contract which finally got changed, symphony orchestra, the opera, the ballet, the circus and I don't know if t hey had the rodeo and the carnival in there or not, but those that few were exempt from all these locals pressuring you for work dues, the business agent and all of that'd be out there, you know, come on. So you had to be pretty good at decorum with the un ion I've had them in New York, on Long Island, come out there and this is not a local they got what they call American Federation of Musicians, and that's U nited States and Canada, and it's AFL CIO [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations]. We're already open, and they didn't dicker on that year's contract for the tour, and here they show up at the building. So, Mr. McClosky [Frank McClosky] the owner there was he and Jerry Collins at the dog track guy you don't know about him, but anyway, they were partners. I had to go there and here they are, and then they are saying, "Oh, you're a company I said, "Company man?" I said, "We get thirty six weeks work out of here, unemployment, social secur ity, the whole thing pension fund, they pay into the union pension fund, the
! "' whole thing." "Well, don't you want to g o on strike?" "Go on strike?" (l aughs) You got guys from all over heck come and j oin for the thirty six weeks. (l aughs) AH: They want you to go on strike when you get out of town? CS: Yeah, yeah. They sho uld have dicker in December when the show gets home, and that's what they normally did, but I don't know what happened this time. Then you'd have the business agents out there wanting to collect their ounce of flesh, you know. I'd send them to the offi ce. F or what it cost to pay the workers, those wo rk dues they'd write a check up there and give them a check out of the office, 'cause they knew that put it together so we're not being bothered. AH: Yeah, just get them off your back. CS: 'Cause it's the same thing with the teamsters union [presumably, this is the International Broth erhood of Teamsters], you know. T hey tried to cut us down one time up there in Springfield. In fac t they did on a Ringling show. [It] c losed on account of unions situations twice, when they were under canvas with the big railroad show. Scranton, Pennsylvania was one time, and the other one was Pittsburg h Pennsylvania, and they put it on t he train and took it home. I n the case of Pittsburg h in fifty eight  when it went home it ne ver went out again AH: Really? CS: in that shape and for m. That's when they played ballparks and all of that till they got organized and they got this building route put together a nd off it went. And that was the end of the band, the end of the whole thing. W e the y still had a band but now they're carrying eight and they don't hire. And they had musicians' union troubles over the years, too. Every show has. Wandered off there. We got on a subject, but, uh AH: Well no, this is all interesting just interested in how the whole system works and we're doing the interview f or people who don't necessarily know. CS: Yeah, right. AH: So all this, you know, the union stuff it's all really important stuff obviously. 'Cause if you want to follow the unions, they could, like you said, cut you down. So CS: Well, they didn't get t eamsters didn't survive with us. I can't tell you the connections there, but the AH: Yes. CS: That thing's on, otherwise I could tell you. P ause in recording
! "( CS: we were on trucks, you know. AH: Yeah, okay. So, then the transition to trucks brought the troubles with the teamsters then, 'cause ? CS: No. Ringling had it when they were under canvas on the train. AH: Oh, okay. S o you had problems with the teamsters, then, too? CS: When? AH: Where your I though t it was on CS: On the truck show we had problems in Springfield, Mass. But we got around em. E verybody was happy and we went on to the next town. AH: Okay, but I guess I guess my question yeah. (CS laughs) All right so, now let's talk about Gibsonton and Florida for a minute. When was when did you first start living here? Did you retire here or did you was it earlier? CS: No I didn't retire here. I'm not retired now, but whatever comes along I go out and play it. Oh, no, I came down in t he fall of fifty eight.  and o ne of the guys in the band lived here and so I saw Riverview and Gibsonton before it got all screwed up We still had dirt roa ds around here in those days. (l aughs) AH: Okay, so CS: And I went on down to Sarasota and spent we had closed fairly early. I went down there and spent a few days and I went up and (inaudible) Wilson and a few shows and I went back out to Oregon that the fall and put a band together and played clubs for th e winter. Then come and did Clyde Beatty that spring, just for Palisades, 'cause I already had that job on the Hunt Show. It's just being out, being a working musician that y ou might have a specialty that most of them don't have, you know. AH: So, did you buy property here? I mean, when did you, kind of, use this as your home base? CS: When my wife passed away, I moved back up here. I was on Key Biscayne twenty one years. AH: Oh, really? Okay You had you had a house down there with the wife, then? CS: Oh, certainly. AH: Okay, and a
! ") CS: She had her doctor's equivalency the whole thing. Did her graduate work [at] the University of Miami, did Florida Southern [College] and did her student teaching over there with them down there and got did the rest of her graduate work and taught there for thirty six years, before she passed away. When she was on the road, she'd teach all the workingmen that couldn't read or write, te ach the show kids. [She] d idn't charge any of them, give them books. That was her little contribution. AH: Yeah, certainly. SC: I'd be playing the shows. She'd have 'em in the motor home having school. AH: Okay, how did you guys meet? CS: Huh? AH: How did you meet? CS: Oh, over in Lakeland, because I started wintering in Lakeland. We moved from I moved from Sarasota I got married and my brother in law was editor of the Sarasota Herald Tribune and he was a Plant City boy, originally, and he went to work as campaign manager for Scott Kelly, w ho ran for g overnor a couple of times [1964 and 1966]. So we moved from Sarasota up there so I could help him with his campaign and help him with the marketing and the outdoor publicity and meet with the vario us committees around the state and all that. Unfortunately he lost twice and then he had R e ub i n As kew 3 though ; that was his Waterloo We're going back a few years AH: Yes, no, I'm familiar I'm familiar with Florida politics, yes. CS: So am I. AH: ( laughs) Yes. CS: That will be a later story. (l aughs) AH: It sounds like a good one. CS: So, anyway, I'm in Lakeland and got the rig ht connections and everything. S o, I'm doing club work down there in the wintertime. That's all. And I'd drive back and forth over here to the club we were getting the club organized and I was on the executive board here in the old days under Everett Winrod Whitey Slaton, and Nick Lucas and so I knew this was over here all the time (laughs) since fifty eight . AH: Well, you were always, kinda, in the area. You weren't too far away. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $ !J9.2F<1!>.K:2H.2!/2.E!"*("!?.!"*(*D
! "* CS: Yeah, right. Right. So, Lakeland was okay. So, Elmer divorced his wife and I divorced mine and I still hung around Lakeland, and in the meantim e I went on Clyde Beatty and that one trumpet player, I brought him on there with me. He ha d come over and joined us off of Cristiani on Hunt in fifty nine  as well and I had had him on a few smaller shows with me. So, I had Carl over there. So we had a lady li ving across the street from him, a family, and they're a pioneer family here, the Hackney family, so I wound up marrying Joan here at the club. So, I was here for a while and that didn't work out. So, I went back to Lakeland and (laughs) in the meantime a friend of my wife's my future wife, we were all good friends, and my wife was t here visiting, and she had [a] p hlebitis attack and she was in the hospital. So, that 's where I first met her was in Lakeland, in the hospital. AH: Really? Okay. CS: Then we corresponded and all that. Then she finally come up to visit me at the Buffa lo [New York] on the circus, when we were playing Buffalo. A nd it wasn't too many weeks later that her father and mother come to visit with her (laughs) and things got started. Things got started. So, we got married and spent twenty one years there on Key Bisc ayne before she passed away. (v oices talking in background) AH: What a what year was that when you got married? Or around, about CS: I don't know. AH: W hat? This was the sixties [1960s], or ? CS: Probably early seventies [1970s] by then. AH: Okay, gotcha. CS: Probably the early seventies [1970s]. So, all of that worked out. AH: Now when you were working on the with this political stuff like just getting back to Scott Kelly for a second, you were I mean, you were dealing with publicity and all that stuff. W ere you dealing with music, or was it ? CS: No, no AH: strictly as an organizer? CS: Strictly as an organizer, and getting materials out to the different communities and showing them how to get the signs up and give them different things to pass out and all of that.
! #+ AH: Okay. Now I want to get to R eubi n As kew too, but befo CS: Well, I had nothing to do with that with that campaign. AH: Oh, okay, you didn't, okay. CS: No, no. AH: All right, understood. All right, so we've talked about a huge variety of CS: I met him. I know he's a brother Mason f rom North Florida (l aughs) I met him in Miami but, that was later on and I was working for the Dade County mayor down there then. When my wife got so bad off I had to leave Garden there. So through a Shrine friend of mine that had been on the road with me a little bit as well, went to school with Steve. So I met Steve and I went t o work fundraising for him is the best way to put it AH: Okay, gotcha. CS: 'Cause I had the Latin Builders Association and all that. I had certain people that AH: You had access. CS: Had access, to help the campaign along and keep us alive. It wasn't a county payroll job. AH: Yes. (l aughs) Now we talked about huge variety of act s and you 've got a lot of experience. Where what were your favorite gigs to play? I mean, looking back, which you know when which were some of your favorites, I know it would be probably hard to pick, but CS: I wouldn't say anyone special act, because I played most of the headliners that were out there. But I specialized or had a reputation for animal acts because there you never know what's going to happen. They worked different every day. [I'm] n ot saying t hat they weren't well trained. B ut you're under differe nt weather circumstances and different footing and depending on if one of the animals is in heat or whatever, it can cause a lot of problems. AH: So you have to be ready for anything. CS: Yeah, you got to know where you're at. You got to know whe re you're at. In the morning you do what they call walking the lot. 'Cause you look and you see what the terrain is, you see how the top s going up, you see what's happening w ith the ground, if the rigging's going to hold and and things like that. I t s ju st an automatic that you do every morning. Go out to the grease joint and get your cup of coffee out front and catch up on the latest news and then walk the lot, and be able to read pretty close what you're into for the day.
! #" AH: Okay, so then you CS: Then you go back behind and mess with everybody. You know, it's a small community, everybody knows everybody. AH: Kinda visiting before. And then being able to anticipate based on the ground what the kind of pace of the show. CS: Yeah, right, rig ht AH: Now give me like an example of something that could go wrong and then how you would react L et's say one of the animals is in heat and disrupts the show. How would you react as the bandleader then? CS: Well, you got to kee p playing and se e what happens. That's all. Y ou got to see if the groom got cut, if i t s going to move, you know if t hey're going to move see where they're going what they 're doing with the act A nd you got things numbered on those acts. I had everything numbered one through whatever the last tune was and I tell the guys and give them signals and they knew when I stopped where we were jumping. They knew where we were going. Y ou got to be prepared for that. AH: Yeah. So if you had to skip a song or something you would just you would just give a hand signal? CS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, right, right. AH: Okay, and then everyone kn ew exactly where to go. Okay, i nteresting. All right. CS: You 've go t to be up on that, you know. Like, you were talking to Phil Strong's s ister and all there yesterday. O kay, they were doing the rocket act and we re playing on Garden Brothers and we re in a big ballpark pla ying the fair and three rubbers for backup up th ere A nd it had been a lot of rain and the rigging let lo o se on that rocket act and they got some kind of a well, we had a band tent up there and the drummer couldn't see up there where that where it was to cue and do all of that. B ut we're playing the act getting through it. And all of a sudden he sees me looking. W ell here comes the rocket act. It [had] come down. I'm sorry I'm not laughing about it. A nd Bill manages to hit the a prop box he had down there and broke his fall, but Rich Gro l ler says, "I saw you looking like that" and he says, "I knew something was wrong." And I said, "That rocket act rigging was coming right for us." I t was too. AH: Okay, so that was one of the the pole hadn't been staked correctly, is that right? CS: Well, the ground was soft and it didn't hold didn't hold the stake d properly.
! ## And there was a Catholic hospital next door to the f a ir grounds and they t ook Bill and Trudy over there. A nd Bill's got on his rocket uniform and the nun sai d, "What happened to you?" H e said, "Well my rocket ship crashed, and (laughs) AH: (laughs) So he kept a sense of humor about it. CS: Yup. AH: (laughs) Yeah, it must have been pretty scary stuff. CS: It was. It was. AH: So now, how did you t he drummer saw you looking up. D id you cut the number short? Or what happened? D id you keep playing while they get everyone out ? CS: Keep playing, keep playing, it goes down. Keep playing and cut Hello Dolly or something tha t's not in the show. So everybody knows something's going on, you know. So that's what you do. T hat's where you put your safety tune in. AH: Now, you talked about usually touring with an eight piece and then adding from there CS: Yeah. AH: What would the eight pieces typically be? What are these instrument s we're talking about? CS: Under canvas it was usually all brass on the eight, or maybe part brass and either a n outdoor cal liope or a Hammond o rgan, which that covers a lot of multitude of sins when it gets a little thin there on some of those arrangemen ts. That's why basically you have to arrange the most basic thing and then add on your parts on the outside for whatever you're going to add on for people up the road or whatever the contingencies are. B ut basically you 've got to writ e for the brass section and have everything covered on the brass section. AH: Now you mentioned the Hammond will kind of fill out because, what, you've got the bass pedals too. CS: Yeah. A nd this and you know, yeah, k ind of fill in. AH: Okay, well what other kind of things would you want someone to know who, say, doesn't know anything? This could be fifty years from now someone's listening to it and wouldn't have never been to the circus with a live performanc e. W hat are the kind of other things that someone shou ld know, the basics? CS: I don't know; I thought we covered it all pretty well there.
! #$ AH: Yeah, yeah, just making sure. CS: Yeah, because depending upon the act I mean, you got a different style of music, different things you're going to put in f or di fferent things, you know. L ike the flying act, okay, maybe you 've go t a fanfare. They announce the act. Y ou play a march solo out there. Then you do the waltz thing, you know, while they're doing the catching and some of the more modern people who come al ong would put a rock n roll tune or something like in that, but that's not really too traditional and it doesn't match the act. And you wait and you get down to the final finally cut and the announcer woul d either anno unce the passing leap or the triple or something like that, you know. There'd be the drum roll and if they didn't make it you go back into the waltz. A nd if when they finally make it and hit the p edestal you play a cord. T hen you hit a gallop for when they do the come down bouncing off th e net and use a fanfare that finishes for the last guy when he comes, when they all do their style together. So basically every ac t is you know, pretty close what the routine is going to be. Whether it's juggling they finish with, fir e. Okay. Y ou put in saber dance or a ritual fire dance or something like that for the f inish. It's different things. S ame way with t he with the, like the cat act. D ave Hoover, after Clyde Beatty well, I already played for Clyde Beatty's act before he passed away [July 19, 1 965] and Hoover continued p retty close with the same music. I'd change part of it every year, so the band didn't get bored. B ut you know, you do the fanfare T hey do the annou ncement. Y ou hit the storm scene from William Tell (scats a circus beat and turn) and m ove with it, you know, and they're coming in and he's s hooting the gun and all of that. T hen he gets them all in accord then you do some type we had different oriental things we played that were written specially by guys way back for the circus turn of the century they started writing circus musicians started composing music for the circus. Right now I 'm working on a project from Sells Bros., 1884 program. W ell, none of that outside of a few things, wasn' t the marches and all of that. T hey're usin g Strauss and p eople of the period, you know. B ut i t wasn't written by circus music by circus musicians especially for the circus. That didn't start happening till around the turn of the century. 'Cause I Barnum and Bailey did that five year tour of Europe and that gave Ringling Show open game here (laughs) in the St ates. They had a straight shot. O utside they had Al G. Ba rnes and a couple other good siz e d show s they were in c ompetition with, b ut noth ing lik e the Barnum and Bailey Show. (l aughs) AH: Ye s. CS: Anyway, Russell Alexander and a few Woody English not Woody English, yeah, Woody English and oh, let me see they basically wrote a lot of the special music for that and it wasn't Woody English, it was Walter English. The other guy I was thinking o f Woody Van, who was an old circus bandleader. Anyway they came back with a lot of that stuff and [in] the meantime Fred Jewel out of Indiana got in the business playing in the band and became a bandleader on B arnum and Bailey after it come back. A nd he's
! #% writing stuff. Karl King was an Ohio boy who wound up in Fort Dodge, Iowa and they call him "the Sousa [John Philip Sousa] of the big top," and he had the Barnum and Bailey band and he had the Sells Floto [Circus] band with when Buffalo Bill was o ver there after Buffalo Bill's show went down Tammen and Bonafils [Bonfils & Tammen] foreclosed on them. T hey owned the Denver Post and they als o owned the Sells Floto Circus. S o Buffalo Bill went on there at the tail end, you know, 'cause the thing with Sells Floto Circus and Buffalo Bill and then they had like this himself, like in person. AH: Okay, yes, yes. CS: So, Karl wrote some stuff for that, "Passing of the Red Man" and some different Wild West type of things that he wrote for that instance on the Sells Floto. But he Karl composed the largest p ercentage of the circus music tha t's being published today, and one of my good friends well, the owner as well but Andy Glover out there at Oskaloosa I sland they have C.L. Barnhouse Publishing Compan y and C.L. published most of the music from those guys. P ause in recording AH: You mentioned all these different styles of music that ma de you know, under the canvas. W hat about I saw a lot of references to Hawaiian music. Would this be under t he canvas or would that be out o n the midway or something else? CS: Well, they used to have a and I never saw one, but I know in fact they had one. T hey had a variety of different things on the back end of the carnivals. They had they did have a Hawaiian show. I don't know wha t it was about, now on the side show on some of the circuses and I met one guy that did that that was a Hawaiian in fact he was a champion, they got a thing where they swim between islands there and he was the champion swimmer for that. B ut he played Hawaiian electric guita r and he played drums for us a while on the King Bros. Circus, there, b ut he did the t hat Hawaiian troop thing. It was just like they would have the minstrel show troop in and they still added on the carniv al, too, they had it on the side show. In fact the band for the sideshow used to carry a band and it was usually a black band. And I met several of those guys and they played their own style and then they'd have a little show on the inside; nothing bad, it was a family t ype thing, you know. AH: Yeah, of course. CS: But it'd be a black show and they called it a minstrel show. 'Course on the carnival when I was on when I first came around Broadway to Hollywood [ Broadway to Hollywood Revue ] and I did the winter fairs for them every year and fi nally went on the road with them in sixty five  but to do that season. B ut at that time we had a black show on there. And Wilbu r, that is the past president there, his unc le had the black show on Strates Lawrence Williams from Philadelphia, and they had a nice band on there and they had a nice show.
! #& But in those days we were still at the tail end of the segregation thing and all of that. In fact, I can remember even as late as sixty five  wher e, in the South, they would have a black day at the fair or they'd have a white fair and the show would stay and play the black fair the next week. Well, they had a black day at some town in North Carolina and there was a big to do whether the Jack Norma n Show wo uld be on stage that day, on account of that, because it was [an] all white revue. So we finally worked, bu t we didn't do the candy pitch or anything. Candy pitch you're familiar with, with the watch and box an d prizes and all of that. T hat wa s the little extra thing before the show started. They did that in the old theaters and all of that, you know. They had the candy pitch. And that's all in th e book that I will loan you. (l aughs) AH: Yeah, well, I actually was just looking at that no, I was looking at that book last night, the one on the girls' shows, right? CS: Yeah Al Stencil, very good friend of mine, from Canada You'll see me quoted in there AH: It's a great book. CS: t e lling about Jack Norman and they got me on the same pa ge with the guy that owned KC Candy Company [K.C. Confectionery, Ltd.] that we bought candy from. AH: Got the candy from. CS: I'm familiar with it. B ut there's a few trade secrets there that I'm not giving out. AH: Yes, I underst and. Well, that book is gr eat. I t looks great and I'll have to look look your name up now. CS: It's in there. AH: Okay, neat. Well, is there any I mean, God, you are such an encyclopedia of knowledge, I mean, I was going to ask you if there is anything we missed, but the re, you k now, there's so much. Y ou're really a very impressive CS: There's so much between the lines there. T hat's just the major. You got time off you got a week off or two weeks or whatever sometime s. T hen you're off somewhere else and play it and then come back home to the show, you know. Sometimes I take acts from our show, go over there and the guy wouldn't pay. pause in recording CS: one guy picked the acts up. I took some acts, three and G arden and we went over to to a Steubenville Ohio and I for a producer who I will not name but the guy waited till I was out of the building and paid all the acts off with a check and says, "Ian will cash it." (l aughs) And I didn't know if I was going to have a job when I got home
! #' AH: Really? CS: and here I did all the you know, I did thirteen years with Ian. H e 's got a horse f arm up in Ocala [Florida] now. T he kids are running the show. And we're the greatest of friends, you know so s till, when I got operated on he was right down there. W hen I woke up there's Ian and his wife right at the foot of my bed, you know. We 're that close. AH: Wow. CS: And he's a brother Mason as well. And we have a lot of that's lot of brothers in the business. In fact all those composers I ran down the lin e there, Fred Jewel, Karl King, Merle Evans, who's on the front cover here, Charlie Barnhouse, Henry Fillmore, they were all brothers. AH: Okay, so when did you become a Mason? I mean this was before you got into music or ? CS: No, no, no. M y great gra ndfather was a Mason. M y grandfather was supposed to b e but he joined the Odd Fellows. Y ou know about that in Iowa. AH: Yes, yes. CS: The fact his middle name was Hiram, James Hiram McKinley so you know that my great grandfather had hopes for him to put him on through. And so I was the first on e in our family. A nd I was going to join down here and those times they had at this what we call Blue Lodge, they had restrictions, if they thought you were a show guy. And my father in law belonged ther e in Egypt Temple and all that. B ut all the musicians and a lot of other circus people were trying to get me to go, so when it went time was time my wife says, "No, you'll embarrass my father." AH: Oh, really? CS: So, I get blackballed AH: Okay. CS: So when I went to Key Biscayne and then I used to go to band practice at the Shrine band there, I keep my lip up and have a good time and help them up I f inally went through down there. A nd my father in law had went through the Masonic Lodge with Willar d Dow [Dr. W illard D ow, Dow Chemical Corporation] and Henry Ford and all of that. H e was in the wholesale coal business in Detroit and they h ad mines in Eastern Kentucky, so. S o I went through that. AH: Yes, I see. Yeah, well, that's interesting so they had restrict ions against show people.
! #( CS: Yeah. AH: Yeah. CS: I don't need to really put all this in the Riverview Current or anything. But we got so many show guys over there and they were getting older people and the lodge was kinda dying out. They had I think we but they these people put a real shot in the arm, the guys from here that joined, now, 'cause I still kept my membership in Coral Gables, down near Miami, the Blue Lodge, the Masonic Lodge. B ut I changed that I finally changed my temple Mi Hi. Temple [Hibi scus Lodge #275 in Coral Gables ] down there in Mia mi. I finally changed it to Sah ib [Shrine Temple] in Sarasota, 'cause they wanted me to become bandleader there. S o I was making the round trip from here and do ing the rehearsals and the turn outs and th e concerts and all that. Then it started falling a part. Y ou never knew what you were going to get P eople are moving away or dying is usually what it was. So I finally gave that up. In the meantime while that was going on we formed our Showme n's Shrine C lub. Which I've been I'm a charter member and been a hard worker on that. I'm going through the chairs right now, I'm second (inaudible) we have our one big meeting when all the out of town people that belong to it, this thing is we got Canadians and the whole thing that belong to it, from all over. AH: It's big, huh? CS: So we have our one big meeting during the trade show. A nd during the show we run a hospitality booth where we sign up new members and the ones from out of town renew their dues or they buy a shirt or, you know, a Shrine shirt or Shrine ball cap or whatever we got there on sale. So at that meeting in February I'll become the first vice. AH: Congratulations. CS: Well, it's part of going through the chairs. I already retired as three times commander of the Legion post at 148 [American Legion] I'm in my second year as senior vice at the VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars] up the street here. So I've kinda used what I learned in the circus to help me out being commander on some of t hese jobs 'cause your definitely dealing with people. The only difference is they're not on the pay roll, so you can't (laughs) AH: Can't just fire them. CS: Yo u can't lean on them too much. Y ou got to use they say that I'm on doing my Henry Kissinger [S ecretary of State 19 73 to 1977] run all the time. (l aughs) AH: Is that right. Try to influence people.
! #) CS: Whatever. Or try and put out the fire or AH: Exactly. CS: Or get things going. So AH: Being a master diplomat. And what and with the S hriners is it a lodge here? Is that what you call it or a chapter? CS: Yeah. I t's our chapte r. I t's a club. And from the Shrine Temple, like you've got the Brandon [Florida] Club, you got the S un City club, you got the Showme n's club and then whatever else is under the jurisdiction of Egypt Temple, which we got St. Petersburg, Clearwater and all that. S o you 've got quite a few clubs that fall under Egypt Temple. But they all contribute money to Egypt, to the what ever you' re going to contribute to, the transportation fund for the children or the hospital fund or whatever. AH: And is it this chapter of t he Shriners that does the parade float or is that jus t a Showmen's thing, in general? I though t there was a parade float for like the Gasparilla and stuff like that. CS: Yup. AH: Yeah, is that a ? CS: Well, Egypt Temple has all their different units, you know. They got the motorcycle unit and all that thing, the little cars, and all of that so. Y eah they put that in there A nd the different Shrine clubs, some of them have some type of unit that's a parade unit so that's what it is there. You know, [in] Ruskin [Florida] they were going to have that Veteran's Day parade and the Sun City Sh r ine C lub wanted to be in it and they so they asked the potentate for permission and he kind of thinks that all the units from the temple s hould be in there, not just one. S o I haven't heard the outcome on it. I just heard that Tuesday night. B ut you do have t o give permission from the main most man there from the potentate from the temple, because you're under their jurisdictio n. Y ou just don't go out and do what you want to do. AH: Okay. N ow, we had talked about other musical styles and there's one thing I wanted to go back and ask about. We talked about, you know, Hawaiian music, Wild West and all that stuff obviously you talked about S o usa, marches and marshal music, b eing a big part of the circus. W hat about jazz? How much did that figure in, or did it not? Was that CS: Oh, it figured in. W hatever the popular songs of the day this is been going on since the inception of t he circus, been going on since the inception. By the time I got around Hanne ford and all that and a little before that on my l ast year s on Clyde Beatty there, whatever came in, you're doing it. I got down into the disco and Parlas Rumberos
! #* [r umba music] and all that all that stuff. You got to, you know you get younger people in the acts and times change. AH: Sure. CS: You can't play a march for everything, you know, or you can't play "Begin the Beguine" for everything, you know. And young ones on the show would come and they'd say, Can you do this or that? And I'd say, "Well, how about this? H ow does this sound?" You know. And then you're doing themes from movies, and you know, S.W.A .T. [ 1970s TV show] and things like that, Mission Impossible [ 1960s TV show that inspired several movies ] things that all as that comes along. And when the Sputnik [satellite] first went up [October 4, 1957], you know the clown actor they 'd have a Sputnik in some act. They're all trying to you know, do that. (AH laughs) So, we had to figure out, you know, all of t hat. Ringling production of it they had a ll that "Fly Me to the Moon" and "T he Rocket" and all of that. You know, i t was a you go with the times. Y ou have to. AH: Keep it relevant. CS: You have to but you have to try and go for a balanced mixture of old and new. And it depends if you're doing like the elephants and you got three rings elephants, sometimes on Ringling show you know, they got a t heme to it, either a jungle them e or New Orleans, or Mardi Gras or somethi ng and they put the costumes on and like that. S o you're not just playing just straight ahead ma rches like the regular military elephant act. And there's such a difference between real barn burners, the real circus marches, you know. And that m ilitary style thing, you know. C ircus marches are a march, but they're not that you know. AH: Yeah, it's a l ittle looser? CS: Oh, you gotta put s ome stuff in there that sells. Y ou're playing music that people will listen to while they're watching the act, you know (to someone else) Hi! [Editor's note: the following conversation is not included in the digital version of the audio file] Woman: Hi Chuck, how you doing? CS: Oh, little interview. Woman: Have you see T.T.? CS: Just. When we first got here so, and her was coming from there to there. So I see you have the tablecloths. Woman: Right.
! $+ CS: Okay. pause in recording CS: You got to oh, you got to put some stuff in there that sells your playing music that people will listen to while they're watching the act. And you're going at speeds that Sousa never dreamed of and at the same time scaring t he shit of the local fire department band. "I t's not Memorial Day parade, boys. (l aughter) AH: That's great. CS: Well, it's the truth. We took great delight and glee in that. AH: Okay, what these people's jaws will be hitting the floor because they never played anything ? CS: Well, we tried that. We tried that. Not too many of them c ome to visit us, they get out to watch the show and go. Oh, you 'd get funny comments, you know. O ne guy stopped one day and said, "You guys are good. Y ou ought to be p laying in a night club somewhere." (AH laughs) Oh, well. AH: Yeah. I mean what other kind of comments do you go into you probably go in to some I mean, for some conservative communities the circus was racy, right? CS: Yup, we ll, I don't know how many co nser I mean, with, like, Clyde Beatty and all them shows you're playing Philadel phia you're playing big towns. Y ou're not out in the brush, you know. AH: Okay, yeah. CS: Your not out in the, as we call it in the our trade, you' re not out in the high grass, o r on the black roa ds. Y ou're on the red roads, on the map, there. AH: Well, and a but you know, you made a reference to how difficult it was finding musicians in places like Arkansas, that's the is that the high grass? CS: Oh, no, it's not high grass. I was guest conductor for the Arkansas Bandmasters Association and they got me in there paid me and I conducted and all. I' m just talking about you get in those smaller towns there, and there're not that many professional musicians that are accus tomed to playing shows. AH: Well, an d you guys would be a crack act because you're playing all the time and CS: Well, you got guys that are experienced. A nd like I say, in those larger towns, Baltimore, New York, Toronto, Montreal, whateve r, those guys play all in those they
! $" played, not that there's now there's not that many shows coming through using live music, including the musicals. But those guys were use d to that. They were used to it. T hat's where the contractor came in to play there, because he 'd get you the right guys A nd if I didn't like somebody that I had there'd be a new face next year or there'd be a new contractor. AH: Gotcha, okay. So did you get an opportunity to play with many, like, famous musicians? Or did they were they not in the circuit, so to speak? CS: I don't know what y ou'd call famous musicians. I had plenty of them that were my friends but they were off doing their thing. AH: Sure. CS: Oh, those kind of people, they're not going to be sitting around waiting for the ice show to come or the circus or the rodeo, you know. Had a lot of good musicians that had played with the big bands. T hey played with the big concert bands or played with the New York Philharmonic or the Boston Pops or whatever. Y ou picked them up when you come through if they're available, and hopefully they are. You know. AH: Well, and then when did when was the decline of live music at the circus? When would you say that began? CS: Oh, boy AH: I mean, I 've heard some people say the seventies [1 970s] but CS: Yeah, it might be. W e were still going pretty good in the seventies [1970s] though, 'cause, Tommy we were carrying the cocktail trio there, the trumpet organ and drums A nd I come over with when I went on Ian Garden we did the same thing, but we added on all the time. B ut you d on't need that payroll when you're playing smaller towns, you know. I mean, Maple Leaf Gardens [Toronto], come on or the Forum in Montreal or something like this, come on how ma n y people are you seating? T hey get a nose bleed up there on those top things up there. AH: So, what you think, it was then the eighties [1980s] that it really started to decline? CS: Well, under canvas I don't know. Clyde Beatty held on a long time. I had it then I kept the band I kept the kept it unionized. I t was a last union band under canvas. A nd a lot of those shows were going dow n to trumpet, organ and drums. W ell, that's all they could afford, but it was live. But now they come ou t they came out with those midi tracks. AH : Yes.
! $# CS: Okay, I'm familiar with those. Several shows got down to where they used and there's some kind of way you can program those so you pop in the next tune to come up and you stop that one and queue a show like that. So they carry a drummer, give the rules and catch the action and have him run a midi machine, you know. S ome of them are down not even using the drummer, you know. So, yeah, I would say sometime in the eighties [1980 s] there. AH: Okay. S o then you say you still you still work occasionally? CS: Yeah. Some of the Shrine C ircus dates, maybe you're playing it with a cocktail trio, some of them you're still adding on, you know. Williamsport, ah, not Williamsport S cranton /W ilkes Barre and a few places like that, you're st ill adding on. And what I do, basically like Hamid' s [Hamid Circus Inc.] my God, I played four generatio ns of ownership with them people. I think hi s great grandson now, George, he's a great guy. I went up and did Harrisburg [Pennsylvania] for them inst ead of goi ng to in the hospital. I caught hell from the doctor, but I had agreed to do it. A lot of times these show producers will have double, even triple dates, and then they'll call up and say, Hey, Chuck, you feel like coming out? I said, "Yeah, I'll come an d do it." That Harrisburg boy, I said, "Do you realize the price of gasoline for me to go from Tampa to Harrisburg, Pennsylvani a?" In fact, I figured it out. I t was four hundred and something for that town. Well, you know, well, the gas was right up there you know. AH: Yeah, it was high, huh? CS: He says, "I'll pay it, I'll pay it." So I took Huston, he lives across the street from have you interviewed him yet? AH: No. CS: Oh, you'll have to he's a great illusionist Roy Huston H u s t o n. AH: Okay, yes. I've heard that name. CS: And he's a good show drummer. His mother ran a dance studio, and and Roy did that and he had a thing for magic and he started building illusions. He's one of the top guys in all these magician conferences. He just di d tha t theater in Ybor City he was burning alive, and his Halloween stuff over there, s awing in half and all of that. A nd he's a damn ed good show drummer. He broke in with all them jazz g uys around Indianapolis there. H e can tell you the whole story. He's goo d. Anyway, Huston went up with me and I had to scratch and dig and I lucked out. I found an organist up there. They're out a keyboard man, playing sense and he had a good left hand and I lucked out. AH: Okay. CS: And this guy had played there's a band in York, Pennsylvania it's a concert band, the Spring Garden Band, and they used to play for the acts that came in at the Grandstand
! $$ at York, Pennsylvania A nd then the y used to do a few other fairs. A nd whoever the conductor a lot of acts carried their conductor like Patti Page and different ones like that. They 've got their own charts the guy does rehearsal with the band, you know. T hen you do the show. So he had played with that band. So I lucked out I lucked out. AH: Yeah. C S: Then we got talking to him. Said, "Well, if get anything else you want to come?" "Yeah, I'll get out of town." He said, "I'll find a substitute over to the church there." He's playing organ at some church over there. AH: Oh, wow. CS: Anyway, great player, and it was good. Yeah, go out and do things like that. Yeah. AH: Yeah, that's great. CS: 'Cause you start looking for keyboard players that know how to play a show and you 're down to the cocktail trio. T hings get a little dicey there. AH: Well, they better be good, right? CS: Yeah. So they're in in short supply. Drummers as well, i f you if I got to go someplace and find that boy I'm calling some town a hundred and fifty miles away that's big and I just tell the pr oducer, "I'm sorry, it s going to cost you." 'Cause I got to rather than pay ing som e local guy, you know, that trying to find somebody. So you start rattling the bushes and when you get like trip le dates or something like that, where everybody that's e ven retired off the road, they're out there trying to cover the bases, you know. That's the thing. 'Cause Hamid 's got on e guy that does all of his states there, Larry Rothb a rd [Larry M. Rothbard, Musical Director] keyboard guy out of Chicago, he's good. A nd then he's got another guy out of North Carolina organ and drum team and they always pick up a trumpet or whatever they need. They cover the double dates And then, when they get down, they call me. So miracles take a little longer. The impossible, w e accomplish right away, but miracles take a little longer. AH: Well, I really want to thank you for sitting down with me today. This is you know, this is some great, great information. A nd so on behalf o f the University of South Florida and the Oral History Program at the Tampa Campus Library I want to thank you. CS: You're entirely welcome. If we need anymore, we'll do it. AH: Yes, good, thank you. (background voice calls "Bobby") E nd of interview