Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Morning with Don Marcks: The Birth of Don ...The Return of Billy Barton

Combing through  the letters, nothing spectacular, but it's Sunday morning, and had you anything better planned?  You're here, so I guess not.

Don once contemplated writing his life story.  Of course, he never got very far, other than two opening paragraphs, from what I know

From his letter to me of August 13, 1994, he begins:

“Came up with a title to my book - how does this sound?  ‘All Things I Wanted to do but never did.”

On a separate sheet, came this:

ALL THE THINGS I WANTED TO DO BUT NEVER DID

                                          by Don Marcks

It had been one of those harsh winter nights in New England.   It was cold, the sky was overcast and snow fell continuously.  This winter storm continued through the next day until at 11:55 a.m. on March 12, the clouds parted and the sun shone.  It was as if some power greater than that on earth had paused to say, "Welcome to the world."

Thus on March 12, Donald Marcks, was born to Alice and Isaac Marcks, at Pittsfield, Mass.  Unlike nowadays, where births almost always take place in the hospital, this one took place at a small house on Lexington Street, which was to be his home for the next few years.

End of momentous quote.

Hmm. So, I guess, upon delivery, Don was spared a muddy lot.

Pittsfield resonants with me, don’t know exactly why.  It’s a neat sounding name, a little offbeat, exclusive, entrenched in tradition.

Now, to the rebirth in Circus Report of Billy Baron (yes, I know, you were waiting for this), who, I always thought, gave Don’s folksy, very fan-ish weekly a little sex appeal, or jazz, something that it needed to give it a pulse.  Even though, on balance, most of Barton’s columns were compactly composed, straight ahead conveyors of facts – names, dates, acts coming going, imported, cities played, marriages and divorces, with a few harmless zingers tossed in now and then.  But, yes, once in a while he did express himself on serious issues, and I found that refreshing.

Getting off my own soapbox, let’s hand the pen over to Don, from his letter to me dated October 12, 1984:

“Guess I probably told you that Barton had said he would like to write again and that he won’t get on the soapbox again. So, since then I have heard from him and he wants to do a column about every other week - which isn’t too bad.  Have to see how it goes, no doubt once folks start telling him how good he is, he will want to get back to the weekly schedule and the soapbox - we’ll see.”

The trouble was, for Don, almost any opinion spelled trouble.  He was too easily rattled by anxious or intimidating phone calls from circus owners.

I do know there was friction between Don and Billy on one or two tense occasions.  I think Billy had written some things that put Don out, and he took it upon himself to edit the unwelcome prose.  Billy flew into a rage, on or off his cloud sing.   Don forced himself to communicate to Billy certain things that bothered him. This was not easy. I think there was a falling out for a time. 

I would have been pleased with Billy Barton returning.  I mean, who did not, every week, look forward to what Billy had to say, even if he rarely said it?

You need a pulse in any venture.

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