Tag Archives: Circus

2018 Florida Road Trip Part 4

26 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


Day 4 Monday 10/22/2018


After breakfast this morning I headed north on U.S.-41 & I-75 to visit the Sarasota Classic Car Museum located just south of the Sarasota International Airport.  I had been to this museum several years ago, but wanted to see what kind of new additions they had in their collection. This is a very large museum with 100+ beautifully restored antique and classic cars dating from 1885 to the present. The docent informed me that this is the second oldest continuously operating antique auto museum in the country.



Just down the street from the Car Museum is the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Ca d’ Zan Ringling home, and the Ringling Circus Museum, all of which are part of what is now the rambling 66-acre Ringling museum complex.  John Ringling came to the Sarasota area in 1911 and purchased 20 acres of Sarasota Bay waterfront property.  John built his magnificent new 32 room palatial summer home (Ca d’ Zan-Venetian for “House of John”) in 1926, and he and Mable moved into the house in 1927.  (Google “Ringling Home-Sarasota” for some interesting details of this mansion, whose design inspiration was taken from the Ringling’s love of the palazzos of Venice, their favorite vacation city).



DiVoran and I had visited the Ca d’ Zan Ringling home and Art Museum some years ago, and I didn’t have the time to visit all of the museums again today.  So I took a photo of the entrance, and headed for the Ringling Circus Museum, which is what I was really interested in seeing on this trip.



After John and Mable moved to Sarasota in 1927, John proceeded to buy more land, around his original 20 acres, in order to have all the necessary space to move the winter quarters of his Ringling Bros. Circus to Sarasota.  As a natural process, and with the inspiration of Ringling’s first Director, Mr. A. Everett Austin Jr. the Ringling Circus Museum was originally established in 1948 as the Ringling Museum of American Circus.  Over the years the museum has grown and now displays artifacts (such as performers’ wardrobes & performing props), lots of memorabilia (such as 19thcentury circus posters & rare circus handbills), and exhibits (such as carved parade wagons & a human cannon) related to the history of the circus in America, specifically the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.



In 2006 the Tibbals Learning Center was added to the museum, which displays the marvelous 3,800 sq. ft. (44,000-piece) miniature model that is a re-creation of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus combined shows from 1919-1938.  Absolutely Amazing!



Next I headed north on U.S.- 41 & SR-684 to visit the Florida Maritime Museum located in the historic fishing village of Cortez, just south of the Palma Solo Bay.  This small museum is housed in the restored 1912 Cortez Schoolhouse, which is now a part of the Cortez Nature Preserve.  The museum displays artifacts, model boats, and memorabilia, relating to the growth of the local and Gulf Coast fishing industry from the city’s founding in the 1880s.




—–To Be Continued—–



Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My First Business

5 Nov


We have a guest blogger today, who I will hope will visit us often. Leon Holecheck is a retired architectural draftsman who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is a childhood friend of Bill Lites. . Leon has always been thrilled by the circus, and when he was 15 the small Diano Circus came to town and when they left, Leon (with his folks’ permission) left with it.   He didn’t stay with that circus long but returned home to finish his education. You can read his full bio here.


My First Business

Leon Holecheck

Leon & Bill


It was about 1944 (I think I was 6) and it was a hot sunny afternoon. The temperature was in the 90’s and I decided that I was going to open a new business and make a lot of money. My mother would give me an allowance of 15 cents every Saturday for helping her make the beds, empty the trash, run errands to the grocery store and a few other chores. It just didn’t ever seem to be enough money for me.

I decided that I would set up a stand and sell Kool Aid out on the front yard in the shade of my favorite tree next to the street. I thought it was a wonderful idea and knew that many people would come and buy a glass of Kool Aid from me at five cents a glass.


I told my mother what I wanted to do and she agreed to help me. Boy, was I excited! I went into the garage and got an old wooden orange crate that I could use as a counter, and placed it next to the street. She gave me a nickel and I immediately went around the corner to the grocery store and bought a package of strawberry Kool Aid.


I took the package back to my house and gave it to my mother. She took a large glass pitcher and filled it with ice cubes from the icebox, and then poured the contents of the package into it. She added sugar and filled it with cold water. She stirred the contents and gave it to me.

She also gave me a glass and a small towel.

I took the pitcher and glass out and set them on the orange crate. I started yelling “Kool Aid for sale.” There were no people walking up or down the street, and it never occurred to me that the neighbors might be staying indoors out of the heat that day. After a while, my throat got dry from yelling, and I decided to have a glass of Kool Aid.



As I was sitting there on the grass, I soon realized that I did not have a sign for people to read about what I was selling. I took the pitcher with me and went inside the house to make a sign. I took a piece of white paper and a pencil and wrote “Kool Aid 5 cents.” I took the pitcher and the sign back out to the orange crate and attached the sign to the front of the crate. Surely that would help me sell a lot of Kool Aid, and I would be very busy. There still were no people walking up or down the street, so I drank another glass of Kool Aid.

As time went by, I had to drink another glass of Kool Aid because of the heat. I even took my shirt off it was so hot. One car drove by and I yelled at him, but he didn’t even slow down. I used the T-towel to wipe out the glass when I was finished.

At the end of about two hours, I got bored sitting on the grass waiting for someone to walk by. The pitcher of Kool Aid was almost empty and I decided to call it quits. I drank the last glass of Kool Aid and took the pitcher and glass and towel back in the house. That was the end of my first business venture.


—–The End—–

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