The Circus Bear Story
We Come from A long Line of Storytellers
Tulsa Phillips my grandfather was from the mountains of North Carolina and was a storyteller. Most of what he told had lots of partial truths. In our family “fluffing up” a story means you are creative and fun to be around. It never occurred to me that every family did not do this. Here is an example of a story told many times by my grandfather:
In 1930, Tulsa and his two brothers had followed work from North Carolina to Sarasota Florida to assist in building the John Ringling Brothers Hotel. It was there, in Florida, that they got to know the circus bear trainer. They had the day off, so they decided to “borrow the bear” to impress the girls at the beach. They had a car with a rumble seat, so they put the trained bear in the rumble seat and drove around town. Unfortunately, as they went over a bridge, the bear smelled fish and jumped out. They had a time getting the bruin back into the seat so they finally rolled him into the front seat of the car and closed the door. As they tried to drive the bear back they became afraid of the mad animal and finished up the ride standing on the running board and steering the car.
When they finally got the bear back to his trainer, Tulsa and Ernest got out of the car and told the trainer what had happened. The trainer reached down, grabbed a two by four and swung it like a bat knocking the bear out for misbehaving. The boys rushed back into the car and drove away as fast as possible. Hoping to evade the fate of the bear.