|Message||PART 2- My mother would take my older sister, younger brother and I backstage to see them and we would be filled with awe as we watched the performance from backstage. It was so exciting and wonderful to see people who looked just we did! We were raised as traditional Ojibiway children among my mom's people and lived in Regina was at the time primarily white. I remember how my older sister and I thought the "negro" women were so BEAUTIFUL. It truly was the most exciting time of the year for us. The arrival of the yearly Regina exhibition was heralded by the whistle of Royal American Shows' train as the cars rolled by our house. We lived right by the railroad tracks. That same whistel sounded mighty lonesome when the RAS left a week later. I don't remember my dad; his last interaction with my mom and his two daughters was about 9 months before my younger brother was born. Needless to say, not having him in our lives was detrimental, but I am grateful all the same, for the Harlem Review and nanny and grandpa Claxton who always treated us like family. I can only guess at the struggles my father must have gone through as black man during that time. I'm glad he made a life for himself as a musician and was able to travel.|
|Message||PART 1: My name is Glenda Wapegan-Magarrell. I came across your website a few weeks ago as I was doing my periodical search for any information regarding my father, Hiliard Witherspoon. My father was a trumpet player for the Harlem Review. He fathered 3 children (including myself) with my mother, Marion Wapegan, a beautiful Ojibiway woman. |
It was with both a sense of delight and melancholy that I read of your project. I am 51 years old and have had no contact with my father (who traveled with the Royal American Shows (RAS) from around 1946 until the mid-60's) since I 3 years old. I remember "nanny and grandpa Claxton".
|Message||Hi there, I spent most of my time during the fair in Brandon,mb canada at the Harlem in Havana and later Harlem revue show. My parents were Lois Bentley and Ed Koshowski, friends of Leon and Gwen. My mom met Olivia on the midway in the early 1950's and a friendship was born. My folks stayed with Leon and Gwen in their home in Tampa in 1969. I sent my time going on the midway with Brother and Gwenette. I remember Shown McGowan picked me up and carried me across the stage and tore his pants in the process. Until her death in2010 my mom spoke of the wonderful times she had with the Claxtons. She knit Leon a Mary maxim sweater for his birthday one year. And she knit Gwen a lace table cloth for her dining table. When visiting them she discovered that the table cloth was too small and brought it home and made it larger. I was happy to find the website but was sad that my mom died before seeing it. She would have been so excited. Sincerely Dodi Beckwith, Winnipeg, mb, Canada|
|Message||Hi Leslie my name is Penny I really enjoyed reading and looking at all the photo’s seeing so many talents. My father and my uncles were a part of your grandfather’s show. Thank you so much for all your hard work. My father is John Myers of the Five Pennies, My name is Penny I was named after the group I live in knox tenn. When my father talks about being out on the road it’s as though it happened yesterday. It's really a blessing to sit and listen to him as I know you have found to be true. I just want to send you love and support from knoxville tenn fam and say good job!|
|Message||I enjoyed your film on Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana. My parents performed in The Royal American Show with Mr. Claxton. While watching the film I saw a picture of my mother in a dance pose wearing a costume made of beautiful feathers. Good work! Will you continue to make other films such as this one? I hope that you will.|
Private Message added 2012-05-06
|Message||I grew up in North Carolina although I have lived more than half of my life in Virginia. I was never lucky enough to see the Royal American Shows, but I know that they were the biggest and the best. I grew up in Winston-Salem and the large rail road carnival World of Mirth went bankrupt there in 1963. I remember watching the bally of a "brown skinned" show there, but I was too young to go inside. The thing I remember the most was the large stage band on the bally with the sax players. What a great sound that one does not here anymore. I also went to the State Fair in Raleigh with my scout troop and camped in Umstead State Park no too far from your home in Durham. I was with Strates in 1975, but the only girl show left was Broadway Play Girls. I have always loved microphones and had aspirations of being a talker. The closest I ever got to that job was Age and Weight Guessing which uses a mic and I am also an Auctioneer.|
|Message||I will be excited to see the documentary but really think this story is worthy of a full length feature film. I hope some big Hollywood producers get on board and get as enthused as I am in seeing it through. Leslie--I salute your efforts and am always ready to help !|
|Message||Prehaps we all need to place a notice on our facebook and web site pages for all past peformers and any one who knew any of the performers on HARLEM IN HAVANA to sign the guest book, and tell about your meeting and your experience either with the show, or the entertainer. Hey Pee wee you and Herbert should sign on.|
|Message||Dear Leslie, |
your untiring research never ceases to amaze me. Your project has taken on a life of its own and has been a major assist for me in pulling together information for the book, “HARLEM in HAVANA” Memories from the black side of The World’s Largest Carnival Midway. I am so proud of you and Alana for your hard work and effort, your film should be a major contribution to the history of black entertainment in America. See you soon.