... my moment of fame
It was around 1975 and the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus was coming to the Boston Garden. There was some kind of a deal for families to attend at reduced prices. Our family of the moment, my wife and two young daughters, were thrilled to sit in those seats high up to enjoy the wonderful, colorful acts in the ring that night.
The headliner act in those days was Gunther Gebel-Williams, a famous and charismatic tamer of lions and tigers. His entry was always spectacular. He was strikingly handsome with blonde hair, beautiful smile, and a weight-lifter's body. He came striding out in his patented entry, with a lion draped around his shoulder. (Sorry I only have a picture of a leopard here.) Everyone was cheering, applauding wildly.
As the applause died down, I made my move. Let me say here that one of my real talents is to be able to let out a frighteningly realistic Tarzan yell. You probably remember it from those old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies. I stood up and let out an "Aww - aww, aww, aww, aww - aww, aww, aww, aww" yodel at the top of my lungs.
That echoed around the whole Boston Garden. My daughters, particularly Carolyn, slumped down in their seats, mortified by their incredibly geeky dad. After silence returned, I sat down, happy to let GGW continue his spectacular act.
The next day the girls came home from school in Franklin. One of Carolyn's friends, who was also at the circus, asked her if she heard that guy do a Tarzan yell. My memory is that she just muttered something and disclaimed any special knowledge!
(On pre-publication review by Carolyn, she writes: "I remember the young son of Gunther, too, and I saved the program for a long time, so I'm sure the public humiliation was also a secret pride.")
August 7, 2009