1973 Convention Flashback

Source: Circus Fanfare, Vol. 3, No. 1, February, 1973, First Windjammers Convention A Big Success, Author – Charles Bennett (WJU #001)

Editor’s Note: This is an adaptation of the original article with spelling and grammatical changes made where warranted. It has been shortened here but can be read in it’s entirety in the MEMBERS ONLY – CIRCUS FANFARE contents of this website. Members in good standing may access Circus Fanfare editions by using their valid credentials to LOGIN.

The 1973 Convention, Windjammers FIRST, was held in Key Biscayne FL, January 5-7, 1973. The event drew members from 9 states. Unfortunately, the article has no photographs. Anyone having historically significant photos of the event should contact the Preservation Team and provide high quality images for use. Your help is much appreciated.

The first Windjammers Unlimited National Convention is now history, and those of us who were fortunate enough to be.in attendance can now look back on the event with fond memories. Considering the fact that our organization is just 2 years old, the staging of a very successful convention is very noteworthy indeed.

The convention centered around the idea of a Circus Music Festival, with our band playing many numbers of traditional circus music during the 3-day event. Our convention site, Calusa Park, in Key Biscayne Florida, was transformed into an atmosphere of total “Circus”, during the days of January 5-7, 1973. Our beautiful new yellow and white striped Big Top looked perfect setting on the big green lot at the park. Blue skies and. grassy lots were the rule at this convention!

For some of the early arrivals, there was a band practice Thursday evening at the local school. Several of the selections were run through by our abbreviated group. Friday morning as one approached Calusa Park, it certainly looked like circus day. The sight of circus trucks on the lot, and new canvas being unrolled in January, was hard to describe! First the stake driver, provided by Hoxie Bros. Circus drove the stake line, then the canvas was put into place on the ground.  Soon it was time to put our big top crew to work. Our small force who were to “put it up, and take it down” consisted of: Chuck Schlarbaum, who served as boss canvas man; Bob “Hagenbeck” Mayer; Jack.”Tiny” Stagg; Bob “King Pole” Harrison; and Charlie “Crippled Tongue” Bennett. We are also aided in the teardown by “Tiny” Phillip, an attending circus fan. After the top was put up in record(?) time, the next order of bus.was a band rehearsal that afternoon.  At the practice many old-time circus tunes were played. It is interesting to note that of the many selections played, there were several marches that have just been written by our members.  That good circus compositions are still being composed by some of our members, is further evidence of the importance and value of our club,

Friday night, our first cocktail party was held, at the home of Charles and Marqueen Schlarbaum. What followed was an evening of gala entertainment and fun.  A wonderful buffet dinner was served by Marqueen Schlarbaum, and this was followed by the playing of numerous circus records and tapes. Of course, the jackpotting was fast and furious, and before we realized it, the dawn was rising on another day.

Saturday was devoted to an almost continuous concert of circus music. Three sessions were scheduled at 10, 2, and 6, but there was so much music that various members brought, that the band kept on playing throughout most of the day. If any of the Windjammers were tired is unknown, but at least none would publicly admit to the fact. At 4 o’clock members were invited over to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Jones for an afternoon cocktail party at poolside. Again, a fine time was had by all in attendance. Again, it was then back to the Big Top for our final session of the day,

Saturday evening was our big steak cook-out, again held at the Schlarbaum residence, The steaks and all the trimmings were wonderful, and this was followed by the showing of silent movies, with Chuck Schlarbaum accompanying the presentation in his own unmistakable style at the piano. This was certainly a highlight of the evening, and this, together with Tex Maynard’s candy pitch which followed, addled up to a great deal of fun.        

Later in the evening the George Plimpton television special that focused on the Beatty-Cole Circus, was shown. This was a very good program and included views of the band, and a short interview with Chuck Schlartaurn. The Beatty band also provided all the music for the program. To close out the evening, color slides of the Beatty show, from this past season, were shown.

On Sunday another concert was given at 11 AM, and this was followed by a business meeting presided over by Charles Bennett Jr. Much was accomplished at our first official business meeting, including proposing our first full slate of officers. A slate of Bandmaster, Secretary-Treasurer, and 4 Regional Representatives were chosen, and as soon as full acceptance by the entire slate is given, this group of officers will be presented to the membership for final approval.

A By-laws Committee consisting of Robert Hills, John Shideler, Ward Stauth, and Paul Fitzpatrick was established, and these men will draw up our final, and official set of By-Iaws.  Other topics were discussed, that will be acted upon by the newly elected Board of Officers. At this time recognition was given to Charles Schlarbaum for his excellent efforts in putting together our first convention;  to Mr. Hoxie Tucker for the use of his circus equipment; and to the Florida Tent Rental, for the use of our tent. The final order of business was selecting a site for next year’s convention. Atlanta Georgia was chosen as the location, with the dates tentatively set for mid-January.

After our meeting, the final concert of circus music was presented. At the concert it was “all out and over” until next year, as the members packed away their horns, cameras, and recorders, and headed back to their various Winterquarters.

The following is the personnel that made up our first Windjammers Concert Band…

Want to see the list and the program music of each concert? Click Here to read the entire article. See the guests who attended as well as a letter from the first “Bandmaster” (i.e., President). There’s always more in store in the treasure trove of preserved Circus Fanfare editions.

About Don George 9 Articles
WJU #3911 INST: NPM OTHFAM #3912 Don has been instrumental in WJU's marketing and website initiatives. He is semi-retired, having owned his own international change-management and technology consultancy. He is also a writer. In his younger years, he was a professional musician, involved in the recording industry, and a "Philadelphia Mummer" playing and performing in a Stringband.