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Hazel Marion Eaton – High Dive and Wall of Death Dare Devil

Hazel Eaton was young, and she was fearless. She was raised in South Portland, Maine and in 1910 at the age of only fifteen years old she ran away from home and joined a high dive act in Bangor, Maine. After diving and traveling with the Johnny Jones Exhibition for two years, she met Ira Watkins, who trained the young dare devil to perform in his Watkins Wall of Death Show.

The photo above courtesy of the Julia Ellsworth Collection shows Hazel (2nd from right) inside the motordrome on her circa-1912 Indian Motorcycle, with Ira Watkins, who she married in 1917 pictured on her right. In addition to her machine, two others by the Springfield manufacturer can be seen along with the crew, and a small car that looks like it may have originated from the batch of Art Smith Baby Cars. She toured with the act until divorcing Watkins in the mid-twenties and then started her own show.

In an interview with the Sunday Portland Press Herald Eaton told the good and the bad times of her life on the road: “Thrown to the floor of the motordrome after the rear brake on her Indian locked up, she suffered serious head and facial injuries along with a few broken ribs. After several weeks in the hospital, she was sent home – very much alive – in an open wooden casket. Her brother, Morris, met her at the train station and took her home to recover. As soon as she was well, though, Hazel went right back to the carnival life and the motordrome”.

“In 1927 she retired from the motordrome to manage her own carnival. Thirty years on the road took her all over the United States, Cuba, Europe and Mexico. She married Jesse Reis, a traveling show auditor in 1928 and together they continued to contract with circus troupes until 1942. Their home for years was a railroad car stateroom where they entertained the likes of Harry and Beatrice Houdini. The couple left the road before the war when she was 48-years old and retired to a farm in Yarmouth, Maine”. You can view other Wall of Death posts here on The Old Motor. Thanks to reader Rolande Anglade for leading us to the photo.

Hazel Marion Eaton Watkins Wall of Death Dare Devil

Hazel Marion Eaton Watkins Wall of Death Dare Devil

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