Page 6                                             January 1982

Fort Wayne juggling club roster grows


By Charlie Willer Ft. Wayne, IN


Before I received my ham radio license in 197-6, I used my mobile radio as a monitor to listen to hams I hoped soon to be talking with. One station, WA9JQM, mentioned that he was one his way to the library to return a book on juggling. It turned out to be Bob Waugh, and he and I started juggling together even before I received my FCC license a few weeks later.


Through various coincidences and chance meetings,. Bob and I managed to meet a few other local jugglers, then proceeded to do a few parties and recreational juggling sessions in public places around Fort Wayne.


Then I met a whole family of jugglers through Luisa Avila, who worked in the same building I did. She introduced me to Juanita, Monica and Jarnes. All were young, and fairly skilled. I joked with Luisa about starting a juggling club and give it a name that people would remember. We decided on Jugglers Anonymous to lend an air of insanity to our ranks of trajectory technicians and projectile programmers.


Our first big "Juggle-In" was the 1981 St. Fred's Day Juggler's Invitational. About a dozen jugglers and 40 or 50 spectators showed up for street juggling and free lessons in the middle of Fort Wayne at Freimann Square. By that time. most of the students in the juggling class I had been conducting at Indiana­Purdue University were doing three ball tricks and beginning to tackle clubs and rings. They were also becoming teachers. Steve Rutledge. who had enormous problems mastering the three ball cascade now eagerly taught his sister-in-law, Julene Cook.


She, in turn, began teaching others in her hometown of LaPorte. IN. Other members of my class. Ken Weaver and Bob Young, were instrumental in getting many of the St. Fred's Day spectators hooked and inviting them to our next juggle-in.


Soon afterwards. I got a two-day clowning and juggling job at a local car dealership. I solicited people there to join the club and it certainly didn't hurt to have Chuckles the Juggling Clown on radio spots at six different stations for a week beforehand!


Saturday, April 25, 1981 was our first official juggle-in. We decided Freimann Square was a good central location and noon Saturday was a good, easy­to-remember time. ("In the middle of Saturday in the middle of town in the middle of the park!") About 20 people showed up. and everybody got a chance to try to learn the dance of the balls with their own hands.


As more juggle-in Saturdays passed our membership roster grew. We started with about a dozen, and it has risen to over 80 members now.


Bob and I took the Amtrak train to the Cleveland convention this summer, and Steve and Julene followed in a car. We carne. We saw. We juggled! And juggled some more! We averaged four hours daily - continuous, sustained patterns and teams. No wonder those muscles were sore! And talk about props .. the four of us carne home with more than 20 new toys!


Our juggle-ins got bigger, better and more spirited. We began teaming up for ball and club patterns in groups of up to five people. Newspaper photographers and reporters carne. We ended up on the front page of the Metro section of the evening paper and on the front page of the morning paper! The mayor met with me for non-juggling business one day after the papers ran our ugly juggling mugs and asked me to teach him and his son how to juggle!


Last summer our club juggled at many meetings and picnics. including several events during the Three Rivers Festival. But our big-time appearance was a two-day stint at Indiana's largest shopping mall. Glenbrook Square. We developed a formula for group performances that I think any club can use to its benefit:             .


We start out with everyone standing in a long line, facing the crowd. One of the jugglers (or well­ versed emcee) introduces the group and briefly invites the audience to come to our weekly juggle-ins. or backstage after the show for free juggling lessons.


Then the emcee says something like. "Gentlemen, start your clubs!" and waits for the line to get juggling smoothly. Next he begins to juggle and walks to the far end of the line. As he passes each juggler. the person drops back to the rear of the stage and stops juggling.


The music begins and the first juggler in line comes out for a 30-second mini-show, doing two to four tricks, then a minor "ta-daah!" or quick bow before the next in line takes over. Teams and partners are arranged while in line, as well as warning the announcer/emcee what gags he should help talk about (invisible balls, etc.). We keep this up until we run out of time, juggling tricks. or just get tired. Then we all repeat the long-line synchronous juggle (no drops allowed!) and take a final bow.


Our recent jugglings have taken us to the Big Brothers - Big Sisters annual picnic. Senior Citizens' groups, Disabled American Veteran's banquets. and. of course, I am teaching my second semester of juggling at IU-PU, with a 40 percent increase in class size! My original students have created three generations of new students already.


At this point, six of our local members have joined the IJA, and it looks like a couple of new students plan to join also. My business is commer­cial recording and producing. Most of my customers are creative people who are fascinated with my love of juggling. Two have already learned. and the rest... well. there's still hope for them!

Jugglers Anonymous members who staged shows at Glenbrook Mall, Indian's largest, were (back l-r) Larry Thompson, (unidentified), Dan Drake, Dave Parnin (front l-r) Nick Jokay, David Dean II and Kate Ramsey.

Jugglers Anonymous members who staged shows at Glenbrook Mall, Indian's largest, were (back l-r) Larry Thompson, (unidentified), Dan Drake, Dave Parnin (front l-r) Nick Jokay, David Dean II and Kate Ramsey.

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