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Friday, July 13, 2007

A Family of Showmen

An article in The Albuquerque Tribune tells of pioneer balloonist Park Van Tassel.

Van Tassel at some point married Jenny, a balloonist and parachute jumper. A planned leap in Los Angeles almost didn't take off when the police chief had a major snit, fearing she would die and make his fair city the home of a female suicide. The mayor intervened, and Jenny's jump went off without another hitch.

Van Tassel's aerial show traveled extensively. He was thought eaten by sharks in Hawaii when trouble ensued with the craft. It was only his brother, Joseph Lawrence, who succumbed to Jaws, while Van Tassel sailed on down the line.

Jenny Van Tassel's final flight, in Bangladesh for the entertainment of the Nawab (monarch), went awfully awry, and Jenny fell to her death in front of her husband and her mother. [Link]
Showmanship must run in the family. George Washington Van Tassel, of another branch, had enough sons to field a baseball team.
He assembled his 10 boys into a VT [Van Tassel] baseball team that took to the road - traveling to different towns in northeastern Ohio, northwestern Pa, and western New York in the late 19th and early 20th century. George was the coach of the team and oftentimes the umpire. A story passed down from son Jefferson is that if George was the umpire, the VT team never had a call go their way. [Link]

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