|My Childhood Playground :-)|
|When I was a child, I had a very unique playground, it was the lot of a carnival named, "The King Reid Shows". My father was the Superintendant of Rides and my siblings and I had a great place to play. The owner of the show was Reid Lefevre, a very colorful person. I knew very little of him until I began searching for information on my childhood memories.The carnival traveled the New England States and into Canada, then winter-quartered in Manchester, Vermont.By the time I was 1 month old, I had been in 5 different states.
While researching The King Reid Shows I became very surprised by the information that I was able to gather on Reid Lefevre.
The information from here on is taken from newspaper articles that were sent to me without the names of the papers they were published in. As soon as I can get the names I will give them credit as due. Linda
Reid Lefevre was the son of Edwin and Martha Lefevre. Edwin served as a United States Ambassador to a number of countries including Italy, Spain, and France prior to WW1. Reid's family moved to Manchester, Vermont in 1908, and his father later started a second career writing for the Saturday Evening Post.
During Reid's college days he organized an orchestra known as the "Purple Pirates" Reid was able to book this orchestra on ocean liners making the New York to France run in the summers of 1925 and 1926.After college Reid went to work for Jack Dempsey as a press agent. It was at this time that Dempsey's trainer "Jerry the Greek" attached "King" to Reid's name, which stayed for the remainder of his life. During this time with Dempsey, Reid returned to Vermont and was asked to help promote the Manchester Fair. During the same time he also contracted a carnival for another Vermont fair. Now Reid was hooked and with the help of Dad,giving him his inheritance early, he became a new showman with a new carnival. Thus the birth of "King Reid Shows".
The King Reid Shows first playdate was in 1934 in Ludlow, Vermont.They opened with a merry-go-round,several kiddie rides, a popcorn wagon, a rhesus monkey with arthritis and an old Indian who sold medicine. Everything was transported on two trucks. The show did not venture far from home in it's early years, playing the Vermont towns of Ludlow, Springfield, Windsor, St. Johnsbury, Waterbury, Newport, Barre, and Bristol.Over the next few years rides were added, an attractive front gate in 1938 and a Loop O' Plane in 1939.
In 1939 King Reid Shows opened in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on May 15th. The show had the distinction of being the first organized carnival to appear at the Orleans County Fair in Barton, Vermont, where Govenor George D. Athens visited Reid and his midway.
Reid was very lucky in the fact that his wife, Zilda Pinsoneault Reid worked in the background and guided the shows financial business. Zilda was very intelligent and an excellent business woman. She covered up many mistakes, social blunders and other problems as they came up. Zilda was very involved in charities and philanthropic activities. She at one time served as a director of the American Cancer Foundation. In 1946 she stopped traveling with the show due to ill heath.
As the years went by Reid added to his show with the addition of a circus in 1940, all rides, shows and concessions of the Blotner Model Shows of Woodsville, New Hampshire in 1942, At the end of 1942 season Reid bought out Honest Kelly Shows, a small New England outfit owned by Charles Eute.
In the spring of 1947, King Reid decided to enter the political arena and was elected to the Vermont legislature. Reid fit the typical "old time politician". He was rather rotund and had a "gift of gab." It was not long before Lefevre was regarded as a floor leader of the Vermont Legislature. The man was always able to attract the press, get his name before the public, which was attained in 1947. Well known American illustrator, Norman Rockwell, featured the King Reid Shows on the cover of the May 3rd issue of the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell was living in Vermont at the time and had become good friends with the Reids through Zilda and her artist associates. It is interesting to note that the opening date for the King Reid Shows that year was May 3rd.
| By 1947 the show was carryiing 11 rides, 8 shows, 40 concessions and signed for 7 small fairs. The show was growing and so was the route it traveled. In 1948 the tour opened at South Glens Falls, NY., and lasted for 22 weeks, including 7 fairs. The midway was now moving on 30 trucks, inicluded 5 light towers and 4 searchlights. in 1950 the route now included Skowhegan, South Paris and Millinocket, Maine, the 4th of July celebration was in Houlton, Maine. Billing itself as the 'World's Cleanest Midway," the King Reid Shows listed its 13 rides and 10 shows for 1950.
In 1951 King Reid Shows entered Canada for the first time. 1951 is also the year that Reid has his toughest legislative battle. This happened when he introduced a bill setting safety standards for school buses.
At the time most towns were hiring farmers to bus children to school, and many of the drivers were hauling them in the back of open cattle trucks, claimed Reid. "It is outrageous," Lefevre recalled, " They were hauling those children like cattle in below-zero weather in trucks that had manure on the floor."
There was violent opposition by many legislators, who feared the bill would open the floodgates of state control over their schools. But with the flair that Reid was known for he was able to arrange a photographer from the Rutland Herald to take a picture of kids being transported in midwinter in the back of an open cattle truck. The picture with the caption " the rigors of education in the old Vermont," flashed across the nation by the Associated Press. Reid considered it a major factor in mustering support for the bus bill.
By 1953,12 Canadian dates were signed for the season, Reid was now "Big Time" and a challenge to the major shows.
Reid's wife Zilda passed away in 1954, after being in poor health for a number of years. Zilda had been heavily into the art colony in Vermont and was considered a prominent patron of the arts. She had been very close to Norman Rockwell and his son.
In 1955 Reid was named as the chairman of the powerful ways and means committee of the Vermont General Assembly.
In early 1956, the King Reid Shows were awarded the Rutland, Vt. Fair. That same year the Eastern States Exposition decided to allow games. Reid and Frank McTeague were given a trial run for games at that year's event. Four new rides , Rocket; Comet; Dodgems, owned jointly by Reid and Arthur April and a Fly O Plane, owned by April, were added for the tour.
The route now took the show into Maine, across Canada, back to Vermont and down to Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. Winterquarters were in Manchester, Vermont,
In 1957 the two biggest fairs were now a part of the route, Rutland and Essex Junction. Frank McTeague of Greenwood Amusements, added units to the King Reid lineup at both the Eastern States Expo and Rutland events.
|The original Ferris Wheel from the 1893
|This picture was taken July of 2000. It is the old office trailer that Reid had on the show.The trailer is currently traveling on the Reithoffer Shows, Orange Unit.|
|Click on photo to be taken to William Campbell's webpage. He also has information on the King Reid Shows.|
|PAGE TWO,click on arrow|
| Reid Lefevre
Thank you Bill, for the photo!!