Henry or Hank. Last name Johnson. Over six feet tall, stocky build he was a big man with grey hair, sparkly blue green eyes, tan always tan complexion…he looked like he lived in Florida all the time. I am certain he was quite handsome in earlier years. Hank had teeth but he didn’t like them, they hurt his mouth so he didn’t wear them and would give you a gummy grin just to show off. He had a raspy voice that was very distinctive.
Hank was friendly, he could talk to anyone. I met Hank in 1968 and the last time I saw him was about 1978.
I think Hank started out on the Scrambler but then the Boss moved him to the Octopus.
Hank was out on the road all summer and he worked for the Salvation Army in The Cities in the winter. He must have had a room someplace there.
What we don’t know…for sure. Was he born in 1922? Did he die in 1983 and is he buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery? We think he had a wife at one time, he was most likely divorced…we think he had a daughter. He was the right age to have been in WWII, but like so many that returned he didn’t talk of it.
Somewhere in Nebraska Hank found himself in the company of a very lonely elderly woman. They wound up going to the city park. One thing led to another. Things got a little amorous. They were BOTH arrested. He spent one night in jail and was out the next morning. Hank being the friendly character he was…won the Cops over. The Cops came to visit him at the fairgrounds to give him a bad time about his tryst in the park. The next year when we got into the Fairgrounds, Hank was taking a nap in the cab of his truck…the Cop pulled up. The Cop asked Far Guy “Is Hank with you this year?” Hank shouted from the truck cab “Tell him he can kiss my bare butt!”
We invited Hank to Far Guy’s going away party…the party we had late in December in 1972 before Far Guy went into the Air Force. Hank came up from The Cities on the bus. We had a winter storm and roads were impassable. Hank had to bunk in with Far Guy’s parents for one night. Boy was Far Guy’s Mom mad…but she said “He was nice and clean, talked civil and even wore a white shirt.” Hank was a hit at the party, perhaps even the life of the party.
Music was just becoming a big thing out on the Midway and the Trabant had a tape that played over and over. Joy to the World (CCR)….was NOT Hanks’s favorite. We would sing… Jeremiah was a bullfrog was a good friend of mine… just to irritate Hank. If you picked that song from a Jukebox he would mumble to himself shake his head and go outside.
Sometimes I wish I could go back and ask the right or more questions, but that wasn’t the way things were out on the road. You never pryed in other peoples business or asked too many questions. Some people talked more than others and some people remain a bit of a mystery.
Lots of Henry/Hank Johnson's... But if this is him, you might enjoy pages 234-236 of:
Pretty sure that is not our Hank:)
I would have never made it out on the road. I ask way too many questions. I like to know all about people and their lives. These are my favorites of all your stories!!
I think some of the people worked the carnivals as it gave them some space. Were some of them using false names?
I was raised not to ask people questions. That was considered prying by all the old swedes in my family. I still don't ask many questions and wait till people tell me things (which they often do). But I assume that's probably because I am quite open talking about my own life and don't talk about other people's. :) Love these stories.
When I was in college, early 70s, when the weather was nice, my roommate and I would put the stereo speaker in the window and start that song. By the time the record dropped, we would be downstairs and out the dorm door and were able to hear the song for most of our walk to class. Fun memories. "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" just had a fun beat and smile to it!!!
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