1910 - 1936 (25 years)
||Susanna Alrich |
||9 Jul 1910
||Canmage, Samsra, Mexico
||killed, show business |
||7 May 1936
||Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada
|killed in trapeze performance |
|Eby ID Number
||8 May 1936
||Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada
||Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
||20 Aug 2020 |
- Fall Off Trapeze is Fatal to Girl
Succumbs to Injuries in Hospital After Mishap at Kitchener, Ont.
Kitchener, Ont., May 8 - (CP - While a crowd of more than 1,000 persons looked on in horror, Sue Alric, a young trapeze artist with the Conklin Shows, plunged 80 feet to the ground last night and died in hospital early today without regaining consciousness. An inquest has been ordered by Dr. J.E. Hett, corner, and will be held Monday.
Miss Alric was one of four girl aerialists staging a public exhibition, and was performing a "trick" fall as a final part of the act. Hanging by her knees, she was to drop eight feet, then the rope was to tighten. Miss Alric dropped the eight feet, the rope tightened, then the strands parted about four feet above the crossbar. As the crowd gasped, she clung for a moment to the bar, then plunged to the ground.
Dr. H.F. Leavine, who attended her after she was taken to the hospital, said she appeared to have suffered a fractured spine, head injuries, and lung perforations. J. W. Conkln, owner of the show, said the rope, made of linen, was new when the girls joined the show. It was inspected after every act and was never left out in the rain, he said. In private life Miss Alric was Mrs. Raymond Marian. Her father, Leon Alric, lives n Los Angeles. A new girl is flying north from that city to complete the aerialist troupe.
Montreal Gazewtte 9 May 1936
Flash from the past: Conklin Shows offered a bright spot for Depression-era audiences in Waterloo Region
Shows featured death-defying aerial acts, but tragedy struck in May 1936 when Sue Alric was killed in an 80-foot trapeze fall.
May 1936 \emdash another long, hard Great Depression winter was in the rear-view mirror. However, unemployment remained high and good-paying jobs were scarce. Was there no light at the end of the tunnel?
No light \emdash but one small bright spot did appear in the Kitchener Daily Record of May 4. An advertisement promised a few hours' distraction: as part of the Kiwanis Carnival the famous Conklin Shows were coming to Kitchener. Pennies and nickels were scraped together by young and old to bring some happiness into their lives. Conklin Shows of Hamilton featured a huge midway with dozens of attractions including rides and games of chance. Highlighting this 1936 Conklin tour was a separately-managed attraction called the Four Queens, "the world's highest aerial act \emdash 175 feet in the air."
Between Park Street and the Dominion Rubber plant on Strange Street, the Conklin midway and tents went up, dominated by the Four Queens' soaring aerial setup. Skee Gelsake, Sue Alric, Fritzie Asay and Boots Struebey (whose husband Elton managed the act) were the Four Queens. At seven matinée and evening shows Monday through Thursday afternoon, thousands of spectators gasped and cheered at the electrifying thrills provided by the four women on the soaring poles, ropes and trapezes. The eighth show, Thursday evening May 7, became etched in many people's memory.
As more than 1,000 spectators watched, 25-year-old Mexican-born Sue Alric began the highlight of the Four Queens act. Straining their eyes, the audience saw Skee, Boots and Fritzie at the top of the tower, about 100 feet up. Boots hung by her knees from a crossbar and held another trapeze from which Sue swung, also by her knees, in a wide arc. Then came the "breakaway" moment, a part of the act in which her trapeze appeared to fall. After causing audiences to shriek in horror, an eight-foot rope tied to Boots and to each end of Sue's trapeze bar had always stopped Sue's "fall."
Until that evening. One end of the rope broke. The trapeze bar tilted crazily. One of her knees slipped off the tilting bar.
Unable to grasp the bar with her hands, Sue Alric was suspended by one knee through a full pendulum swing of the trapeze. That knee too slid off. Shocked spectators watched as she plunged 80 feet to the ground, landing on her back. An ambulance rushed her to K-W Hospital just two blocks away. Dr. Stanley Leavine attended Sue and later described her in a "maniacal delirium" until she died at 3:10 a.m.
Originally from Mexico, the 10-year aerial veteran had lived in Los Angeles with her husband Ramond Marian. Efforts to contact him failed so her father, Leon Alric, also in Los Angeles, requested the body be returned to that city.
A replacement aerialist was being flown in and the Four Queens had intended to perform again Friday night but then-police chief William Hodgson advised against it until an inquest, set for the following Monday, was completed.
The largest crowd of the week was on-hand Friday as the remainder of the Conklin attractions were still up and running. After dark, all lights were extinguished while a single spotlight shone on the trapeze bar at the 80-foot height.
On the following Saturday morning, a funeral service at St. Mary's church was attended by over 300, including many Conklin Shows employees, then Ratz and Bechtel Funeral Home prepared the body for shipping.
The coroner's jury quizzed the other women in the act as well as manager Elton Struebey, owner Paddy Conklin and Dr. Leavine. Asked about why no safety net was used, Struebey said they were "all right for flying acts at heights up to 30 feet" but useless for higher-level acts. Someone falling from such a height "would have gone clear through the net."
Other questions focused on the rope, which Elton said was quite new, made of Irish linen and had always been inspected before every performance. Dr. Leavine's report on Sue's injuries made for gruesome reading.
The eight jurymen's generic recommendation suggested that some safeguard be devised for such acts.
Every day, thousands of cars pass by the huge parking lot in the Park-Dominion-Strange block beside the railway tracks but now, once in a while, someone may remember a young woman from Mexico whose life ended there on a Thursday night more than eight decades ago.
mills, r. (2019). Flash from the past: Conklin Shows offered a bright spot for Depression-era audiences in Waterloo Region . TheRecord.com. Retrieved 3 November 2019, from https://www.therecord.com/living-story/9672947-flash-from-the-past-conklin-shows-offered-a-bright-spot-for-depression-era-audiences-in-waterloo-region/
|Born - 9 Jul 1910 - Canmage, Samsra, Mexico
|Misfortune - killed in trapeze performance - 7 May 1936 - Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada
|Died - 8 May 1936 - Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada
|Buried - - Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States