* PAPPY AND THE BAND LEADER – An Inspiring story by by Rod DiGruttolo


A Tales2Inspire Winner

Saturdays were collection day on my paper route. In this way I met and came to know Mr. Merle Evans, band director for the fabulous Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus.

On tour most of the year, the circus spent the peak winter months in Sarasota. During those few months performers, managers, and various other members of the circus entourage resided here. Some maintained temporary winter homes but a number of the circus families lived year round in the quiet neighborhoods of Sarasota.

When Mr. Evans was in town, he often spent hours in the garage behind his home tinkering with some project or another. A car wouldn’t fit in the garage as the building was crammed with wondrous things.

Handbills hawking bygone spectaculars; posters depicting famous trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns or acrobats; murals depicting colorful tents, bandwagons, and circus trains were pinned and tacked in a patchwork of brilliant color. The colorful montage, interspersed with black and white photos, covered nearly every square inch of garage wall. Mr. Evans invited me into his fantasy world on several occasions. I gawked with eyes wide and mouth agape as Mr. Evans patiently pointed out the impressive decorations and regaled me with antidotes of the Big Top.

One Saturday, while enjoying Mr. Evans’ hospitality, I told him my grandfather, my “Pappy,” was due to arrive for a visit in a few days. Pappy played the trombone and performed with a small band in rural Pennsylvania for many years.

Rod as a youngster, folding newspapers in his garage

He was a big fan of circus music and of Mr. Evans in particular. Each year during Pappy’s visits we attended performances of the circus at least once, more often several times. Pappy always reserved seats directly across from the bandstand and reveled in the music. He kept an intent eye on the band leader while he hummed and tapped his foot in rhythm with the music.

Mr. Evans grinned and asked, “Why don’t you bring him around next Saturday? I’ll give him the fifty-cent tour.”

In my own way that’s what I’d been angling for, but hearing the invitation made my heart skip a beat. I stammered “Thank you” several times and nearly stumbled over my own feet, while beating a hasty retreat lest he should change his mind.



TALES2INSPIRE™   ~ The Sapphire Collection

Click on book cover to order this book.



Rod DiGruttolo grew up and continues to live in Sarasota, Florida. “Living in perpetual summer, adjacent to beaches and warm, clear water has to be as close to an ideal childhood as any boy could ask for, maybe even more idyllic than life on the Big Muddy,” claims Rod. A proud father, step-father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Rod feels blessed by his large, close knit family as well as a loving wife and his own good health. His story is a memoir – a true slice of life event he shared with his Pappy while a young boy. Rod has been in business for many years and has been fortunate to meet and do business with a number of notable personalities. He served a stint of about eight years in the role of a law enforcement officer.


About loiswstern

I was in education for just over 20 years when I unexpectedly pursued another passion and entered the world of authors and journalists. I have since published two non-fiction, full length books on different aspects of beauty, but also avidly endorse the confluence of Inner and Outer beauty. I have written feature articles for Long Island Beauty Guide and LI Woman, and have served as Editor-at-large for MakeMeHeal.com, the largest Internet site for plastic surgery and beauty needs. I enjoy researching what's new in the world of aesthetics & anti-aging and devote one of my blogs: www.FabulousBeautyBlog.wordpress.com to sharing cutting edge, hype-free information. I devote my second blog to my other passion: writing, collecting and sharing stories to warm the spirit and inspire the soul. To this end, I have created an 'Authors Helping Authors' project/contest, to create books for inspiration, the first of which is titled: Tales 2 Inspire ~ Beyond Coincidence. It is a jewel of a book, filled with inspiring stories and full color original photos and/or drawings. If you're a talented writer with one inspiring story to share, visit www.tales2inspire.com to learn how to participate. FREE to enter. All you need is the talent and perseverance to do so. Lots of positive platform building opportunities for the winners. Learn more at: www.tales2inspire.com.

Posted on January 11, 2013, in Inspiring stories, motivational stories, Tales2Inspire, Tales2Inspire Contest, Words to Inspire and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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