Farewell to a Legend – Bingo Hauser – Until we meet on the Midway Again

October 1, 2015

Joe in the Shoot Out the Star - Vintage 1985

Bingo Hauser and Joe go way back to when Joe worked at Playland in the early 70’s.  Joe started at the PNE a young kid wanting a part time job.  He worked his way up to be the Assistant Superintendent of Maintenance at Playland.  This is where Joe and Bingo’s story begins.

Bingo offered Joe a job working with West Coast Amusements taking out the Spectacular Sky Wheel Ride for them in 1983.  Joe did that for one season, but in order to stay on the road, Joe wanted more.

(Joe always wants more 😉  Rather than increase Joe’s salary Bingo offered Joe a golden opportunity to own his own equipment.

It was nothing big, nothing fancy, just a little something to subsidize his wages.  Bingo said he could have the Rope Ladders game. It’s kind of how it’s done in the Industry to keep good people around your show; you give them a little something of their own, but not too much.

I am sure that Bingo also wanted Joe to be tied in with more than just a paycheque. Bingo was a fairly good judge of character and I am sure he saw Joe as an asset in those days.

That’s when I met the Hauser’s too.  I had no idea there was such a thing as a travelling Carnival when I met Joe and the idea of working for one sounded fun, but frightening.   I worked in the Under and Over 7 Gambling game for Jackie Hauser.  Together, Eva Rennie and Jackie and I worked the booth, we had so much fun in those days.

We joined Bingo’s show in 1983.  A couple of years later he gave us another opportunity to make a little more money with his company.  He hooked us up with Bert Dalgliesh to buy the Shoot Out the Star Game from the Dalgliesh family.  We took the chance.  We got a huge loan and bought the game trailer and the truck and away we went, newly married travelling with the show as both employees and independent contractors.

I did not have a Carnival background, and was fearful of exactly what this Carnival life entailed – being on the road, away from the family and friends.  We were young – and Joe assured me if we didn’t like it, we could do something else.

Both Joe and I listened to Bingo’s wisdom intently over the years and will always continue to use his advice.  Bingo was a great teacher, a true character and a loving man.  He loved Show business – oh the stories he told….

Me working the Shoot out the Star - Vintage 1985

I worked in the Winter Quarters office for a couple of winters for $200 a week in those days.  Joe worked in Bingo’s shop for $250 a week.  Joe built many of the parish power boxes for WCA that I am sure they continue to use today.  Joe was learning about carnival electricity.  I was learning about booking spots using an electric typewriter.  I learned about spot sheets and creating manuals for how to work in the office if you were the secretary.  I developed the WCA Secretarial Bible.

I learned about Bingo’s ways and how he just set things down here or there, for a little while in small piles on the edges of the counter or shelves.  God help you if you moved his little bits of papers and notes.  He knew where everything was.

Bingo always said to us, you never tow anything down the road that doesn’t make any money.  This really stuck with me and we continue to use this advice to this day.

We dabbled in the carnival for a few years with WCA and then tried to retire, but just for one summer.  Way too soon, we missed the excitement and fun of Carnival life and we went straight back into it the following year joining up with Castle Amusements.

We had another opportunity to work with Bingo again a year or two later.  He allowed us to book a few games concessions on his show.  We hired managers to take those concessions out with Bingo and built a second set of games to travel with his show.

We bought a few rides in 2001 and our relationship with Bingo changed.  We were now competitors.  While we were cordial with one another at conventions, things were never the same again.  We were always respectful of Bingo, although I know he was not our biggest fan for the last few years. Gratefully I made peace with Bingo at last year’s BC Fairs Convention….it’s never too late.

Deep down, I like to think Bingo was somehow proud of us.  We did a very good job with our Industry and honoured what he taught us. He was one of a kind without a doubt, and he will be missed and spoken about for decades to come.   He has left a legacy for his family, his employees and contractors.

He also left a legacy for other Carnival owners to carry on in our Industry and continue the tradition of the Travelling Carnival.  He was a man of stories, colour and wisdom.  He was a hard worker, self-made, an Industry leader and a trailblazer.   He was our rival; there is no question about that, but he did change the course of our own history and our future. He provided an opportunity for Joe and I and we took it.

Owning a carnival requires you to wear so many hats.  You need to be a banker, a lawyer, a salesman, mechanic, trucker, insurer, promotor, comedian, advisor, first aid attendant, safety authority, social worker, a financial expert and so many more roles.  You are a Parent to everyone on the road, not just your own family. What I admire most about Bingo is that he built his company without a safety net just like we did.  “No guts, no glory kid”, I have heard him say.

As the owner of the Show you have to take all the risks and then hold your head high above the water at all times. You have to weather all the storms and look for the little blue hole in the sky when the rain comes pouring down.  You have to continue to be positive and hopeful.  Really, we just don’t realize our challenges today are tomorrow’s stories.

We are sincerely grateful for having had the opportunity to have known Bingo, and we are genuinely grateful for his role in our journey.

We wish the family, especially Jackie great strength going forward as you find your way to carry on in your new world, without Bingo. We hope you all find peace and laughter in the many stories from thousands of people that will live on long after we are all gone.

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