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She was born in 1905 in Orwin, Pa., the daughter of a Quaker father who had a traveling medicine show. Her mother sang opera and encouraged musical interests in the family's six children. While she may have studied at Juilliard School of Music in New York, and possibly in Europe, we know she performed with Barnum & Bailey Circus. Billed as "The One-Girl Band," she played seven or eight instruments simultaneously, including piano, accordion, castanets, drums, cymbals, tambourine, harmonica, harp and violin.

By 1929, she had married Charles D. Meyer, 20 years her elder and the business manager of a small circus. South Arkansas was part of the troupe's circuit, which abruptly ended following a performance in Camden. The economics of the time forced the company to disband. All she and Charles had left was a 1926-27 Ford Model-T circus wagon, which they used as a traveling home, and whatever they could salvage from the defunct circus, which included several goats.

They drove south about 20 miles, finding themselves in the middle of Smackover, a town recovering from a decade of wild and fast oil-boom growth and subsequent relapse. They found a place to park so the goats could stretch their legs — and there they remained for the next 24 years, tending the goats and giving impromptu musical performances from the vehicle's rear "performance balcony." Eventually, Charles opened a tire vulcanizing business in an adjacent building. In 1953, the town helped the couple move their setup a few miles away, on Arkansas 7, to a spot on the banks of Smackover Creek. There, they could enjoy more room and Smackover could enjoy a goat-free downtown. They continued to entertain guests with projected movies and musical performances.

After Charles' death in 1963, she performed more often and even became a regular on Channel 10 in El Dorado, sometimes with her goats joining along.

Who was this eccentric woman, whose circus-wagon home is on display in the Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover?

See Notable Arkansans — Answer

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