In the summer of 1973 I ran off to join the circus. My job was to paint a side show attraction for the midway entitled “Giant Jungle Rats.” I had told my circus employer that I was studying painting at the Art Institute of Chicago and he was willing to give me a chance to prove myself. Traveling with the circus inspired me and hardened my resolve to become a “show painter,”—one hired to perform the decorative painting needs of circuses and carnivals.
This experience led me to a painting job for Dell & Travers Carnival in spring of 1974 at a show date on base at Ft. Bragg near Fayetteville, North Carolina. There I entered the side show world through the auspices of Captain Harvey Boswell and his “Palace of Wonders,” a mobile museum and “odditorium.”
While repainting an old “Himalaya” music ride I was able to gaze day and night on his fantastic banner line composed entirely of Fred G. Johnson’s creations.