The Grind Show

Posted By on January 27, 2013

Lilli PutianThis was a midway grind show. It was composed of 6 inch mechanical people that performed simple tricks. Each worked off cables and gears and it was most amazing in it’s time… 1914.  In the ticket box Walter Estes, on the left Auto Durkee and his wife on right Molly Durkee. These folks are all related to Billie Henderson Schuller and Peggy Henderson MacDonald. This kind of show was found on fairs, carnivals and circus midways. There were many different shows each presenting something new and odd. For instance… freak animal shows, mummy shows, pit shows consisting of snakes  etc. and the list goes on. Find or build something different, then put up a two pole top and you have a show….that’s the definition of a grind show. You stay open till close. There is no beginning or ending of a performance.  It is a continuous  sale of tickets. In the back ground can be heard a constant bally of the odd and unusual that can be seen inside the tent.  Hence the name GRIND, because it is a grind to work all day long.

There is another type of grind show, it’s name is a “Ding Show”. T he Ding Show sells no tickets….. it works on donations. One person can operate this show. On the way into the show you pass through a bally curtain. Just before passing there is a ding  box where you drop your coin. In the box there is a small bell  that is placed so that when the coin is dropped in,  it hit the bell making a dinging sound. Hence the name DING Show. Oh yes if the owner of the show that is sitting over in a corner of the tent does not hear a ding ………….. You are thrown out of the show quickly.

Thank you Billie for the great photos and letters.


About the author

My name is Ivan M. Henry and I am the 4th generation of a circus/show business dynasty. I hope you enjoy the blog.


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