Monday, July 21, 2008


Frank Cain remembers Horace Laird...

"Horace Laird was one of the hardest working clowns on the Cole Bros. Circus for almost 15 years, from 1935-1950. He was just an average background whiteface makeup clown. He never received more than a thirty dollar salary in all those years. Going downtown to the post office and picking up the show mail each day and selling the "Billboard" magazine each week on the lot for extra money made up his winter savings.

He lived alone in one room in Chester, PA, stretching his savings through the winter until it was time to go to Louisville again and start a new season.

Cole Bros. closed permanently in 1950. In the spring of 1952 Billy Griffen, as Boss Clown, got Horace a job on the Kelly-Miller Circus opening in Oklahoma. With all the years of skimping and not eating the right food he wound up with a very bad case of diabetes.

He could never remember the dosage of his required daily insulin shots. Mrs. Cuthbert, the show nurse, gave him his shots each morning and immediately after he would go to the cookhouse and eat all the frosted sweet rolls or donuts they would give him, thus negating the effect of the insulin shots.

we had to send him home in mid-season with a note pinned to his coat for the railroad conductors saying, "I am Horace Laird. I go to Chester, Pennsylvania. I am a diabetic."

He was, by then, only aware of who he was half of the time.

There was no one there to take care of him and before the year was out we heard that he had died."

Frank Cain
I Never Went to Clown College

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