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STANLEY UNGER – Carney Man
A Profile by Kay Davis
“Step right up, folks. That’s it, right up here.” A circus barker draws us to see the curious or challenges us to play the odds and win a prize. Remember The Music Man? A popular movie, it gave us songs like “76 Trombones” and whether we sang along or simply tapped our feet, we became part of the show. His enthusiasm had won us over.
Along came Stan, young and raring to go. It was the 1950s, and a clean cut Jewish boy from Brooklyn decided to join the circus. What did he have to offer? Well, he had been successful in sales. He had charm and a disarming style that got him invited into people’s homes, and once in, he worked hard to meet customer needs while entertaining them with his wit.
The carnival needed that charisma and quick thinking, and the carnival was a far more exciting life, after all. Quick to learn, he worked for 60 years as a “carney man.” Besides the hard slogging work of raising tents or driving all around the US, Stan could “guess” many things, for instance someone’s age or profession. There is no magic to the job, he told me. It’s hard work. You learn to read people. And there were days when a barker could rake in $500 an hour, nothing to sneeze at.
These days, Stan spends his winters in a tree house in Guatemala. There he lives close to nature with others who find the unusual lifestyle refreshing. He returns to the north shore when the weather in Central America gets too hot.
While living alongside the lake, Stan writes poetry and some short stories, which he reads at the Ajijic Writers Group. One poem was called “Ravioli.” I shook my head at that one, but the point of view wasn’t so much the pasta as it was of the one eating it and it was rather fun. His creativity and point of view are slightly off-beat, and that is one of Stan’s strengths. He is like a mirror reflecting a side of us we may not have considered.