Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun, Or So It Seems ...

Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun,  Or So It Seems ...
Kijome Hara with the World’s Smallest Man and Wini McCay

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Cave of Compassion: The Miracle of Humanity at its Best


Never can I recall being so moved by a rescue operation, in this instance, the rescue of the 12 Thai boys from the cave.

"Now, there were eight!" came news on the radio this morning. Eight freed.  Five to go.  Never had the sound of an ambulance -- rushing another freed boy to the hospital -- given rise to such joy and jubilation    It was hard to sleep last night, fearing something too terrible to put into words.   The world was watching.  The world was praying -- and connecting.  And so was I.  Navy seals and scuba divers from far and wide were coming to aid in the rescue.  Experts in related fields were coming.  Collectively, the genius of engineering and navigation and problem-solving, people from may lands collaborating, showed the world at its life-affirming best.

The 2-1/2 mile route they must take (horrifying to contemplate), is a winding snake in the dark through treacherous terrain, at one point, down to 15 inches wide.  It is fraught with danger. And yet, the heroic rescuers are finding ways and saving lives.  Not a new story, but a story worth telling and respecting over and over.

Images on TV are what have  made it all so real.  On the faces of those young soccer players, there shines patience and hope and trust in the world to help them find a way out.  On those sweet innocent faces, a spirit that captures your heart.

Here are some photos, which tell the story much better than I could.

 Some of the boys and their coach.
When early this morning, out of bed,  I saw on the TV that they and their coach were all out of the cave, and beheld  pictures of cheering rescue workers and parents, and of Thai people on the streets singing and chanting in celebration, I wept.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Morning Midway and Don Marcks: On the Auction Block, Another Great Model Circus Faces Uncertain Future as Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Folds

 This Monday, Labor Day, will mark the last day of operation for Playland-Not-At-The-Beach, the brainchild of the late Richard Tuck, who wanted to celebrate San Francisco's old ocean side amusement park.  He rented a space on San Pablo Avenue in El Ceritto, CA the town where the late Don Marcks lived, and where Don founded and published his weekly Circus Report.  After suffering many years of ill-health during which he tirelessly kept the presses rolling, Don died in 2003.

When, in my boyhood,  I first came upon a few of Don's colorful wagons on flat cars in the window of Western Auto, in Santa Rosa, that one moment made an instant circus fan of me. Soon after, I was building my own first crude models.

The Marcks Circus went to Tuck's Playland   The museum itself came with other offerings, and new ones have been added.  Among them,  The World of Charles Dickens, Santa's Village, and The Genius of Walt Disney.  Few artifacts, if any, from Playland have been added, so it hardly dominated the proceedings, which marked possibly the museum's greatest drawback. And everything was packed, however finely, into a small space with narrow passageways.  I've been there two or three times.  The last, a couple of yeas back, on a morning, when I was the only visitor.  By the time I left, there may have been two others.

Playland is a victim of new building owners wanting to sell the space for condos.  When I spoke briefly by phone with Playland's owner Frank Biafore, he was sketchy about what would happen to the circus.  He had tried to find a substitute location for the museum at affordable rates.  This being the Bay Area, impossible.

I have since discovered on the website that it will be auctioned off on September 15, at 10am.  The Marcks circus collection is listed in sections, big top to dressing tent, etc. each "valued" at between $4,000 and $6.000, the big top, from $5,000 to $7,000.   Strange that Biafore he did not mention this to me.

How many wonderful model circuses out there end up in virtual oblivion? 

I shutter to think what may befall Don's wonderful work.  Of course, I would love to see it in some nearby location.  Baring that, I can think of a city of varied amusements named Las Vegas, because I can think of two people in it who might be the perfect buyers. Bill?  Jan?