Saturday, October 25, 2008

Of Long Lost Cousins and Fire Eaters



I really do come from Circus Folk!

This has nothing to do with UFOs or the paranormal, but it does fit into esoterica in a way, after all, there does seem to be a Fortean, high strangeness air about circuses, clowns, and carnivals and they are often settings for supernatural or paranormal stories, both real and fiction. (Remember the HBO series Carnival? Excellent series, one of my favorites.)

Anyway, a very wonderful thing happened to me recently. I was contacted by, as it turns out, my second cousin, who found me via her searching on-line about her mother’s side of the family. She’s managed to find all kinds of things that she is sharing with me. Two bits of synchronicity in all this: one, I’ve been thinking very strongly about her all day yesterday, wondering why I hadn’t heard from her, when, to my delight and surprise, I found several emails from her in my e-mail today. (Her family had had something very serious to deal with; that's why I hadn't heard from her.) And, today, while following a link that had nothing to do with this, but some other topic, I saw, at the top of the page, this quote of Ernest Hemingway’s:
“The circus is the only fun you can buy that’s good for you.”

(I don’t agree with that, I hate circuses, at least traditional ones that use animals. And I can't stand clowns.)

My grandmother, Louise Gladstone McClocklin (Lee) and one of Louise’s sisters (my cousin’s grandmother) were known as “The Gladstone Sisters” an acrobatic, vaudeville act. Here are a few little items my cousin (I’ll call her Libby) shared with me. I've kept the original wording and spelling.

BISMARCK DAILY TRIBUNE, 29 JAN 1909, PG 2
TITLE: AT THE GEM

The Gem theatre has an exceptional bill in vaudeville for this end of the week, and at both performances last night the two acts were generously applauded.

The Gladstone Sisters, Louise & Hazel, the juvenile sunbeams,are stars,rarely equalled, and they are certainly big winners. Their harmony singing and acrobatic dancing, are new features in vaudeville acts....

RENO EVENING GAZETTE, RENO, NEVADA, 3 SEP 1910, pg 5
MECHANICAL DOLL TO BE EXPOSED AT WIGWAM TONIGHT

Tonight the mysterious mechanical doll will be taken up from the audience in full view of all, and the trick that has been so mystifying during the past week exposed.

This will be the last night you will have to hear that clever msical team, Stanley & Scanlon, alos that dainty little soubrette Minnie Baldwin.

Commencing tomorrow afternoon the GLADSTONE SISTERS, the child acrobatic wonders, the GREATEST child act ever seen in this city, will open a week's engagement at the Wigdom. This act is considered a GREAT FEATURE.


THE NEWARK ADVOCATE, 29 NOV 1906, pg8
NEWARK, OHIO


THE ORPHIUM
Theatre Beautiful.
Fouth St., Between Main and Church.
MAKE NO MISTAKES. FOLLOW THE CROWD
For ladies, gentlemen, children.
____________________________________
Week
Commencing NOV.26
_____________________________________
"CREO"
European Novelty
____________________________________
GLADSTONE CHILDREN
SINGERS AND ACROBATIC DANCERS
_____________________________________
TOMMY HAYES
Refined Musical Artist.
____________________________________
FRANKLIN A. BROOKS,
Song Illustrator
_____________________________________

THE MARION DAILY STAR, 30 OCT 1907, pg.9
MARION, OHIO
MARION FAMILY THEATER

___________________________
WEEK OF OCTOBER 28,
THE BARRINGTON CO.
High Class Spectacular & Musical Comedy,
TIPPLE AND CLIMENT
Comedy Musical Artista
THE GLADSTONE SISTERS Singers, and Acrobatic Dancers,
THE GREAT GAYLOR
A Contortionist,
EP ROWE
Illustrated Song,
POWERS MOVING PICTURES
Wonderful Flames

Matinees Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. 10 cents
Children's Sat. Matinee under 12 5cents


MANSFIELD NEWS, 5 NOV 1907, pg 7
MANSFIELD OHIO

EXCERPT
TITLE PLAY AND PLAY PEOPLE

... The juveniles get a good showing on the Orphium bill this week, the Gladstone Sisters and three of the five Benningtons coming under this classification and the bill of the week is one that will undoubtedly prove a winner, particularly with the ladies and the children.

The Gladstone Sisters, two clever little ladies, come on with a song and dance after which they give an excellent exhibition of
acrobatics, their good humor during the act being contagious
.


Later, my grandmother and grandfather, and my uncle and father, joined up with the Tom Mix Circus. I’m hoping Libby will send me the scans of the actual articles from the original papers. I know there’s either a LOOK or LIFE cover of The Gladstone Sisters on it; my grandmother showed it to me when I was a teenager.

And Libby shared with me that another cousin “ran off” when she was a teen-ager, returning home a few years later, married to a fire-eater! How cool is that?

The circus seems to run in the blood. Which explains a lot, don’t ya think?

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