The Kind of Man
Makes Big Men Feel Small!
Grandfather, J.W. is a huge man. The Kind of Man That Makes Big
Small. He married in to the Shields family. He recalls Shay, the
smallest of the brothers and very old at that time, as something
other than a man. Head and shoulders was not an apt metaphor. He
didn't have one. My grandfather was a paltry 6'2 and 260.
ringmaster had done his job, he would have selected 4 males who
didn't weigh much more than 150, but could pass for more. Maybe
they were ringers, I don't know. But even if they
weighed only 100 pounds each, this would put the bench pressing
in excess of 450 to 500 pounds. That is a HUGE amount of weight
for anyone, much less an untrained, unjuiced man who was the
slightest of the 4 brothers.
I recall another story dug up by Dr. June Welch (though I had
heard it in other forms at family reunions), a great old Texas
historian who taught at the University of Dallas pro bono (he
made his fortune in oil). Dr. Welch required each of his
students to do a family history as a term paper. When he read
mine and realized I was descended from the Texas Giants, he
relayed a story from his childhood that he never grew tired of,
but had yet to tell it to anyone who did little more than nod
and smile. Some years after Gus, Frank, and Jack left the
circus, Shay was still doing his act. As part of the act, the
ringmaster (Barnum?) would bring out Shay along with a large
wooden bench press, though in place of weights there was a
simple flat platform on each side. The ringmaster would then
select 4 "stout men" to stand on the platform, and Shay would
then bench press them. Assuming
illustrates the enormity of the brothers. An enormity that I
have consistently heard described with a caveat, Yeah, they were
tall, but that isn't the most striking thing. They are just flat
big. Everything about them. There aunt a man that ever lived
that wouldn't feel small just being around them.
If you sort of stop and think about that,
these men were a foot taller than Shaq. Only a few men in
history have been taller, and yet those that have met them
insist their height isn't what strikes you, it's the enormity of
them. Though to be fair, the four of them together are probably
a lot more awesome than just one.
One more thing, as I recall, Jack weighed the most at 550, Gus
and Frank weighed in at 500 and Shay at somewhere around 450.
E. Hondo Burney
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