New London is quite lucky to have gotten one of the six remaining Zippo The Clown Memorial Ferris Wheels. Until I saw this picture, I hadn’t realized that any of them toured outside the American South.
If you haven’t read Zippo’s book “Tears of a Clown: 80 Years of Mirth and Heartbreak on the Humor Trail”, you owe yourself the favor of doing so.
Without going into too much detail, I’ll say that Zippo defined the Depression-era Side Show. He performed as “The Rubber Boy,” “The Penguin Boy,” “The Lobster Boy” and even “Zamora the Amazon Woman.” For a while he ran a dime pitch in which the prize for getting a dime to stick to one of the greased glass plates was a live squirrel monkey.
He died in his nineties in an unusual magic-related accident. He was placed in a box and sawed in half, as he had been hundreds of times before. But somehow this time he did not go back together properly. Most experts believe that his circulatory and digestive systems were not properly lined up before the magician pushed the two sides of the box together and reconnected him.
Being Zippo, he refused to go to the hospital. “Put me on the Ferris Wheel,” he said. He passed away just as his car reached the highest point.
There were originally fifty Zippo The Clown Memorial Ferris Wheels, but due to a design flaw which sent several cars crashing to the ground with the occupants inside, there are now only six. You are very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to ride on one.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Two Tickets to Paradise