The Great Bodie (Bill Rosemeyer)

William Rosemeyer still remembers the summers of 1960 and ’61 as the wettest in his life.

The Golf Avenue entrance to the midway.

The Great Bodie’s dunk tank was located in the west end of the Olymic Midway.

It was not because of frequent thunderstorms; indeed, bad weather gave Rosemeyer a break from his work as a dunk tank subject.

Rosemeyer was “Bodie the Clown” on the west end of the Olympic Midway, which was owned by Ronnie and Patty Elwood at the time. Other games on the midway were Bumpy cars, fast-draw Charlie, Fuzzy Wuzzy, the shooting gallery, miniature golf and Fascination.

The Bodie name and clown persona were selected by Ronnie and given to Rosemeyer to develop. His job was to coax a quarter from a passerby, which would get them three baseballs to hurl toward the dunk tank’s activator arm.

“To get their attention I would say ‘The great Bodie is high and dry and looking for a ball player,'” he says. “When I got a crowd, I would pick on people saying things like ‘You must be a biker by the bugs on your teeth.”

Ronnie Elwood hired Rosemeyer for the job because he was a “talkative” teenager, 15 years old at the time. As he recalls, the pay was $5 an hour, “great pay” for that time.

The water in the tank was about 4 1/2 feet deep. Because it was constantly being splashed out from the dunking, it had to be replenished all the time and therefore never got warm.

Rosemeyer worked evenings, 6 to 10 p.m. or whenever the activity on The Strip slowed down. He wore a clown costume with a diving suit under it to stay warm.

He also wore makeup on his face. The makeup was waterproof but he put it over a base of cream so it would be easy to remove at the end of the shift.

The greatest danger Rosemeyer faced from the job was “getting beat up after work.” He played the antagonist and taunted the contestants by distracting them in the middle of the pitch or hurling an insult at them, like “be careful with that limp wrist.”

While in the tank, Brodie was protected from the contestant’s anger. But on the street, he was fair game.

“Well, being a joker and young, and after getting all the makeup off, I could not at times resist going around the front from a different direction and visiting with a few that wanted to kill me,” Rosemeyer recalls. “I would tell them I get him first. Then I’d leave soon after.”

Rosemeyer could count on being dunked several times a night.

“It was rare if the same person did it. It was always a surprise,” he recalls. “I did not stay down long as I always rehashed (the player) big time then.”

His summer job prepared him for future endeavors in the corporate world. He became a sales rep for Hughes Tool Company, a Howard Hughes business. He worked there 10 years while going to college. From 1973 to 1983, he had his own company. Rosemeyer tired retiring in Florida at the age of 36, but it didn’t work out and started a boat rental club, which he ran from 1982 to 2005. He is employed as a director of business development for Silikal America and covers the entire United States.

“I had a blast and it made me a good speaker to this day,” says Rosemeyer, who lives in Florida. “I do presentations to the board of directors for the national company that I work for to this day. I’m now 70 (2105) and work because I love what I do. A lot came from getting the nerve to do that job at that age.”

Rosemeyer has great memories of GOTL and returns when he can.

“I met my wife at the Cove Bar when helping Pete on a Fourth of July weekend in 1967. Our first date was at Eddie’s Grill. We go to Eddie’s every time we come up, for old-time’s sake,” he says.

Share a GOTL memory