My first memories are of Sarasota, Florida in the winter quarters of the Ringling Brothers’ Circus. I was one year old and remember it vividly. My father, an art student, was making extra income by repainting circus murals.
Spanish became my second language.
The people in the circus were my friends. I was bounced on the knee of the tallest man in the world and rocked in the arms of the fat lady who could not stand up. My first baby-sitters were a family of little people who lived in a trailer next to ours. They told me stories about the animals they worked with: Chi Chi the Chimpanzee, an elephant named Elder, and Gargantua the Gorilla.
My mother says I was a fast learner, always ahead of my age. My father taught me to swim before I could walk. I walked at seven months and climbed over a seven foot chain link fence when I was one year old. Everyone in the circus thought I was going to be a trapeze artist