Dr. Jan Younger to speak about Buddy Walker 2010.06.09

Written by David Green.

ginnivan.jack__buddy2.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

When Dr. Jan Younger thinks about the days of Fayette’s Ginnivan tent show, he knows there are a lot stories to be told.

In 2001, he met with the child star of the show—the late Bud Walker—and he came away thinking there were probably four doctoral dissertations that could be written about Buddy Walker.

Dr. Younger, the recently retired chair of the Heidelberg College honors program, will attend the Fayette Arts Council’s annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Opera House. The title of his talk is “Reflections on Bud Walker, the Ginnivan Tent Show and a Life Remembered.”

Bud Walker’s parents performed with the Ginnivan Dramatic Company and little Buddy grew up with the show. Eventually he became a big part of the show, thanks to Jack Sexton.

Sexton traveled with Norma Ginnivan’s company starting in 1934 and he took a liking to four-year-old Buddy, who was already finding his place as a drummer.

Working with Sexton, Buddy took on the persona of Bozo the Clown, a cigar-chomping hobo who delivered the punch lines to Sexton’s role as the straight man.

An article published in Billboard magazine that year stated, “The youngster puts his punch in lines in a manner that is remarkable for one of his age and has the poise and assurance of a veteran trooper.”

The magazine later described Buddy as “America’s youngest professional drummer,” since he played with the pit band during performances.

Jack Sexton went on to become known as Jack Sterling, a popular name in radio, and he later served as the host of “The Big Top” television show.

Buddy turned the tramp act into a one-man show before leaving in 1942 and focusing on his education, about the time the tent show business began its collapse.

Fayette Arts Council president Tom Spiess invited Dr. Younger to talk a little about himself—as a Presidential Scholar, he’s interviewed figures including Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher—about his studies of Mark Twain, and about Fayette’s Buddy Walker.

Some members of Walker’s family are expected to attend the program and guests are invited to offer recollections.

• To help with planning, Arts Council members suggest that guests make a reservation by calling 419/237-3111 or 237-3091.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016