The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Juggling Jacksons

A Brief History of The Juggling Jacksons



1950s


                 When my dad, Bob Jackson, met my mother, Lois Kay Trevillian, he was a juggler and she was a dancer.  They got married and while my mother was pregnant with me she learned to juggle.


          They worked long hours in rehearsing a juggling act until they finally put together a fast-paced act they called The Juggling Jacksons.  The act became a popular fixture in nightclubs, at conventions, and in other show venues in the early to latter 1950s around the Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania areas.


1960s


         After four more children and moves to San Diego, California and the Chicagoland area of Northern Indiana, the kids were added to The Juggling Jacksons in what my father used to call "The Big Act".  It was a fast paced act that incorporated intricate juggling patterns.



         This new larger Juggling Jacksons act began playing numerous fairs, circuses, corporate parties, and other shows throughout the Midwestern United States.   Then Bob's day job transferred him and his family to the quaint town of Maryville in East Tennessee.



              The "Big Act" was sharpened up and often performed as a self-contained show throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and other Southern states.   The Juggling Jacksons continued to perform for several years until the kids started moving on into adulthood.  Bob and Lois continued to perform--again as a two person act--into the 1980s.

Mid 1970s til Now


           And me?  After a few years at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, I went on as a solo act in the Ken Griffin Magic Show in 1975.   For the next sixteen years, I toured the country with various shows often as a juggler, but mostly as a show manager.  In my juggling act I was billed as "The Juggling Jackson".

            So if you were wondering about the picture in the header of the blog, this is a brief account of how it came about.  And my blog title Tossing It Out?    It was my juggling metaphor for tossing out ideas to readers and juggling words and phrases.  Do I still juggle?  Not often, but I still can--it's just like riding a bicycle.




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95 comments:

  1. That's a fascinating family history, thanks for sharing.
    -mood
    Moody Writing

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  2. That is amazing family history. What a beautiful thing!

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  3. Juggling in all its wonderful forms seem to be the thing today. My daughter is a great juggler, so much fun to watch. Nice family story.

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  4. What a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing that.

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  5. Wow! Thank you for sharing your juggling family with us! It's a fun juggling unlike the juggling acts of everyday -- but then each can inject the fun in whatever they are doing!

    Blessings to everyone! :)

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  6. I'd always wondered about that pic. Thanks for giving us a brief glimpse into the careers of the Juggling Jacksons!

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  7. Wonderful story and an interesting life, May you long go Tossing It Out,

    Yvonne.

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  8. Nice knowing more about you Lee...The juggling jacksons,you rock !

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  9. What an amazing story, and to think you hadn't mentioned it here until now. I'm impressed.

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  10. What a fantastic story! Amazing pictures too!

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  11. What an awesome story. I had to read the beginning twice, to see if I messed it up when you said it was your parents. What an exciting life.

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  12. I love your story - what a treasure chest of tales you must have. I can only juggle two balls in one hand - learned while a cook at a tavern...(with lemons NOT eggs)
    Jan Morrison

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  13. What an amazing family!! I'd love to be able to juggle - I have tried in the past and failed :-(

    (I used to practice in the kitchen with the radio on full blast so no-one could hear the bad language my misereable attempts created! :-o )

    SueH

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  14. LOVE this 'J' post, Arlee! You have an incredible family history filled with joyous moments. Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday! :o)

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  15. Wonderful post. Lovely to learn all that about you and your life.

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  16. Great story. I always wanted to trace back some great thing in my family but I'm always worried it would be that they were the first member of a prision chain gain or something! LOL




    http://upinthecosmos.blogspot.com/2011/04/j-is-for-juxtaposition.html

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  17. How did your father manage to hold down a day job and entertain as well? Remarkable:-)

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  18. Cool. I figured there was a juggling history, and now I know. Would it be safe to say the family that juggles together plays... errr stays together?

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  19. Great post, Lee. You are like the proverbial onion, I love it when you peel back a new layer and share more about you. I have never known a juggler. Do your kids juggle? Did show biz end with you?


    Gregg Metcalf
    Colossians 1:28-29

    Gospel-driven Disciples

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  20. Family history fascinates me, even when it's not mine. Yours is quite impressive. A book about it would be most interesting. I hope you write it!

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  21. Great photos. My youngest daughter has a fascination with juggling and often shows off her skills to her kids. Nobody else in the family has that skill. The only thing I juggle is mail – pay this one, don't pay that one – but mostly I just spend my bill-paying time just tossing it out ;)

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  22. What a fantastic way to grow up!
    Thanks for sharing your story, I am a new follower and will definitly be coming back to visit!!

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  23. what a fascinating family history thank you for sharing

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  24. So this is what vaudeville has come to? Too cool for school!

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  25. I think it's fascinating! And I love that you have the photos from the past to show us your family tradition. What a lost art!

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  26. Hi Lee .. great to hear a little more of the family background and see the pics .. really interesting. Family likeness is there to see ..

    Like riding a bicycle .. I guess juggling around might be .. I think I'll stick with words and creativity .. havoc would reign otherwise!! Cheers - great "J" post .. Hilary

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  27. I'm so glad I stopped by your blog today.

    That is a fascinating snippet of family history, and you must have so many other stories to tell...just the kind of life for a writer, to provide grist for the mill.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

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  28. Oh my goodness, this was soooo interesting! Thanks for sharing! :D

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  29. You've lived a very unique life. Wonderful story and thank you for sharing!

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  30. Thanks to all for your visits today and the nice comments to go with them.

    Since we came in at the tail end of the vaudeville era, my father had the perception to take a day job as an accountant juggling books by day and everything else on weekends, occasional evenings, and for family vacations.

    Yes, all of my kids can juggle. They've never done it as public performers, but sometimes they'll impress friends and party goers and such. I never got my own version of a New Juggling Jacksons together.

    Lee

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  31. This is wonderful and amazing. You all remind me of the Cohen family--George Cohen --and the movie starring Jimmy Cagney. I don't think too many people have a wonderful story like this is their family background! This is NEAT!

    jean

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  32. So when does the book about the Juggling Jacksons come out? There's a novel in there somewhere.

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  33. Well, I wasn't expecting that. A fascinating history.

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  34. Lee, it was fun to read about "The Jacksons"! I loved how you were part of the family business. My parents(my maiden name is Jackson)met in a movie theater. Maybe,if I hadn't moved so much... lol

    You do juggle everyday, your words, blogging, writing and the A-Z blogging challenge! We are all trying to learn to juggle, this one ;-D

    I am so glad you shared; I enjoyed it~

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  35. That is the coolest thing ever! So glad you shared this part of your life with us... I always wondered if you knew how to juggle based on the blog, and now I know.

    http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/04/j-is-for-jokes.html

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  36. I can juggle, only three items, and only just barely.

    Still, this is really cool. What a fascinating history you have Lee!

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  37. OMG - I'm SO glad I found out that it wasn't a random shot in your header. This post and your family shots rock - and I mean stadium rock.

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  38. Yes, I have been curious about the picture on your blog and the story behind your title! Very interesting! So glad you shared :)
    Brianna blogging @ Pocketful of Playdough

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  39. That's such an awesome story!

    My significant other used to do that when he was younger- on a unicycle no less. He's tried to teach me (juggling- not the unicycle part)in the past but it usually just ends with something breaking.

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  40. Wow..this is so interesting..! Thanks for sharing..! Me..? I can't juggle...but sure would like to try...

    Graywolfie
    http://graywolfie.andrewandgrace.net

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  41. That's a great story! Thanks for sharing it!

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  42. That is totally awesome! What an amazingly different childhood that must have been. I can't believe I have never heard of the Juggling Jacksons. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Dafeenah

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  43. I did in fact wonder about the pic in your masthead. Bet juggling is lots of fun - well after you know what you're doing.

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  44. That is AWESOME!
    I learned to juggle in one of my theater classes in college, but even with the standard three-item juggle, I was never all that great...

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  45. You're a juggler? FABULOUS! How great is that?
    Stopping by and checking in from the A-Z challenge!

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  46. I tried to learn how to juggle a couple of times. I gave up.

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  47. You look rather surprised in that last photo!

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  48. this is a great story and lovely pictures...I did wonder about your picture and the story behind it..I can juggle 3 balls!

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  49. Very cool! I love to watch juggling, but there is no prayer that I would ever be able to do it! Love the pics and the story! Thanks so much!

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  50. Great metaphorical (nice word, eh?) title. My first reaction was Wow, who knew?

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  51. Oh Em Gee, what a lovely post about your family. And so talented too! The pics and the story are such a treat today :) Thanks for sharing, Lee, and whether you perform in public or not, may you have many, many generations of jugglers to carry on this family tradition (love those)!!!

    I pimped the A to Z in my vid post at YouTube today and linked your blog in the description section too. I won't link it here but plan to share it at the end of tomorrow's post :)

    Hope your day is going swell!

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  52. I've always enjoyed watching jugglers while attending a circus. It takes lots of pratice, patience, and concentration.

    For my J post, I did jigsaw puzzles.

    http://mom2nick.typepad.com/heres_whats_new/2011/04/j-is-for-jigsaw-puzzles-.html


    Thanks for looking.
    Laura T.

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  53. Oh, Arlee, I loved this post. Loved loved loved it.
    Karen

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  54. Lee, what a great story. I loved seeing all of your family pictures too. It must have been very exciting growing up in a family of performers. I really enjoyed this.
    Thanks, Julie

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  55. Arlee,
    wow! like wow! i've always been fascinated by jugglers because they have amazing hand-eye coordination (which i most certainly don't have)and i've always been curious about your picture there. thanks for sharing this!
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  56. Thanks for the many more comments. Yes, it was often exciting being around show biz. My father was always so full of life too and it usually made things a lot of fun.

    I must confess that though I can juggle 4 balls, mostly I can only juggle 3 objects and not all that well. You know that saying "practice makes perfect"? Well, it's true and I didn't practice all that much. Probably why I went into management.

    Lee

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  57. I got the metaphor but I did wonder about the pic. Great little family history...I can recommend juggling to anyone...it calms me right down and apparently links the left hand and right hand sides of the brain.
    Cheers
    paul

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  58. I've always wondered about your blog header and now I know the story behind it. Wow. What a fascinating family history you have and thank you for sharing it with us!

    Ellie Garratt

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  59. Wonderful story. In our small country school, we have a student who juggles and I see him practicing sometimes in the street out the front of his house on my way home. The other kids made fun at first but now are really impressed by his performances.
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

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  60. It all makes sense now ;) Cool story.

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  61. That is so great! :-) I had wondered about the picture in your blog header.

    Fascinating family history! :-)

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  62. Your life story is so fascinating! I've just never known anyone from a juggling family before.

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  63. Absolutely mind blowing! Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

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  64. what a superinteresting gang! :)
    Can you still fit in that tux, Lee? :PPP

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  65. I'm impressed, Lee. I can juggle - one ball! (I can also walk down a hallway and run into the wall more than once, too.)

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  66. What an interesting life you have led - amazing the number of places you were able to travel to juggling.

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  67. What a fun, inspiring and awesome family history you all have in the creation of a juggling empire, so to speak. Thanks for sharing a glimpse inside the inspiration behind your blog header and name and also your family legacies.

    The Madlab Post

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  68. Wonderful post. I love the pictures!

    And I have wondered about the reason behind the title of your blog before.

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  69. Thanks for sharing your amazing family history! This was very interesting :)

    http://myvoicemyview.blogspot.com/2011/04/j-is-for-jolt.html

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  70. Wonderful story and a wonderful fun family life. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  71. Such a fun post! I can't imagine growing up with such spirit!! Great blog!

    A friend started your A to Z challenge on her blog, so I had to come see what's up with the gig. I know the sign up's full but I'm an illustrator and I'm going to illustrate animal collective nouns A to Z — probably won't happen all in April, but makes for a fun project. First post: http://penelopeneal.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/a-an-ambush-of-tigers/

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  72. And another big thanks to all who have left comments since my last stop here. I am working on getting around to everyone's blogs.

    And no, Dezmond, I probably cannot fit into that old Tux, but I don't guess I have it anymore either.

    Lee

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  73. That's just incredible Lee. Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful family story and a part of you also. I like learning about the picture on your blog and the title, I did wonder about that. Such a great post!

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  74. This is an incrediable family story to learn! I feel like I have grasped the hem of a Great One, and if I am perhaps lucky enough, the magic of that touch just might happen to one of my own endeavors.



    See me at this A to Z Challenge at http://thisendupsidedown.blogspot.com/

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  75. What a great post and very interesting. I love all the photos.


    Wool'n'Nuts

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  76. Oh cool; thanks for sharing your family history Arlee.

    I had wondered about the picture.

    .......dhole

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  77. Hey Lee! Quick...catch this!! What a great story..there should be a book about this family! hint hint!..there must be a least a thousand stories wrapped up in smokey night clubs and whiskey stained hotel rooms...I love the pic of the family in the paneled rec-room..we had a room just like that in the 60's!... Minus the talented family..what great memories you must have!

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  78. What a fun family history! And how fun to have those pictures of your parents!

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  79. I so hoped your "J" would be something like this! Such a great story. Thanks for sharing!!

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  80. Another thanks to those who visited this post and left their comments.

    Lee

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  81. That is such a COOL story! You are the first professional juggler I've ever known. :)

    So is it in the genes, or can most people be taught to juggle?

    Glad I scrolled down and caught this bit of personal history.

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  82. Great story -- but where does the name Arlee Bird come from? What an interesting person you must be, coming from such an interesting family. I love the wood paneling in the 1960's photo. And the two youngest kids sitting on the floor. That's so great.

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  83. Anita -- Anyone can juggle--it's a matter of willingness, persistence, and lot's of practice.

    Suzanne-- The Arlee Bird story will still one day come as I had promised a while back. The family room decor was classic indeed--the rest of the house was likewise very 60s.

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  84. I was wondering what the juggling themes meant. I learned to juggle from a summer of boredom and a "dummies" book. I hope one day to teach my son so we can go on the road. ;)

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  85. Great Juggling History

    Hope we can make new History together by joining all jugglers from all over the world for the MasterPeace project:
    Jugglers for WOrldPeace

    www.masterpeace.org

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  86. Lee that is great now we know why you could juggle so many things in life. I am sure that it helped as a manager as well. God Bless and I guess you could say I can juggle all things thru Christ who strengthens me.

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  87. Lee,

    My family lived next door to your family in Maryville (Murvil) from 1974 or so until the mid-80's. I guess you were out of the house by then, but I knew Jay and Jeff (and knew who Joni was). Jay and I were at MHS for one year together (he was a senior).

    I often tell people about the times we watched from our backyard as groups of jugglers spread out over the back yard and flung what seemed like a hundred clubs around, or the times the neighbor kids would get invited over to hang out in the kitchen and watch a magician. In fact, I was talking to a juggler today (one of the Fettuccine Brothers) and he informed me that, in fact, I had been living next to a pretty famous juggling family for all of those years.

    Sorry to hear of your father's passing (yes, I know I'm two decades late). Give my regards to your family.
    K

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    1. Any chance that you would ID the kids in the photos?

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    2. The kids are all me and my sibs. In the one photo with the entire family you can see Jeff in my father's arm, then from left to right it's me, Joy, and on the floor Jay and Joni.

      Surprised to see you continuing to follow the thread, though I was surprised to get a comment today so long after this post first appeared. Not sure if you were aware, but my mother passed away in November of 2014. Me and my sibs sold the old house last year and it's been remodeled and continues to be on the market. I sure miss that house!

      Lee

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    3. Thanks. I guessed pretty close on the sibling's names. That dates it to the early/mid 60's.

      I got a notice today that someone had commented, so I came back by to re-read.

      Sorry to hear about your mom - I don't recall seeing anything about her on Facebook, where Jay and I are connected.

      Kevin

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    4. Kevin, you're right about the time--I don't recall exactly but it would have been sometime between 1963 and 1965 when we lived in Indiana. I don't recall if anyone put anything on Facebook about my mother, but I'm pretty sure one of us posted her obit that appeared in the Maryville paper. And I did write about it on a couple of my blogs.

      Lee

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  88. Hej! I'm an gentleman juggler, ropedancer and magician from Sweden. Intresting story! I wonder if you know where I can find something in the net about Ken Griffin. I only have the book he wrote and there is little to find ... Thanks Max Carling

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    1. So nice to see you stop by. I'm guessing that you found this post via a web search for Ken Griffin. Not too much I've found about the Griffins beyond my blog posts and a few other mentions. Like you say, there is little to find online, at from the searches I've done.

      Stop by anytime. I don't write about show biz too much, but still I have several posts on the topic not only here, but at my other blog Wrote By Rote.

      Lee

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