The vast Southern Memorial Park, on a drab stretch of the Dixie Highway north of Miami, houses large plots devoted to Catholics, Jews, Protestants, and carnies.
The sunny plot, dominated by enormous statues of elephants and lions, is the final resting place of many of south Florida’s best carnival barkers, weight guessers, merry-go-round operators, cotton candy hawkers, and all of the other assorted jobs that tend to follow the carnival from season to season around the country. A row of life-sized painted animal statues stand guard over their tombs.
David Endy, the first president of the Miami Showmen’s Association and the grandfather of carnivals in South Florida, died in 1982 after more than 50 years leading carnivals– he is buried on this plot. Others entombed beneath the elephant are Louis “Peanuts” Baker, Earl “Doc” Norman, Sol “Duke” Geffen, Bernard “Bucky” Allen, John “Whitey” Hilferty, Alfred “Rhody” Ridings and Harry “Lively” Bernstein, whose nickname is an ironic one to be inscribed on a grave marker
The noble-looking animal statues were imported from Italy, and get a fresh coat of paint every four or five years. The blanket on the elephant’s back reads “Show folks. May they always be right, but right or wrong, Show folks.” The gaudy pachyderm is visible from all over the memorial park, and has become its unofficial ambassador: even if your loved one is buried far away from the carnival plot, they have the elephant to stand guard over them.