WELLER: Circuses and carnivals were central to your childhood growing up in Illinois. What are your memories of these traveling shows, and why do you suppose they were so important to your development?Anyone who's read Something Wicked This Way Comes--especially anyone who read it as many times as I did in my teens--will perk up at that story. And, believe it or not, it gets wilder from there; the Mr. Electrico story on its own is worth seeking out Listen to the Echoes for.
BRADBURY: Again, it's all passion. I was in love with circuses and their mystery. I suppose the most important memory is of Mr. Electrico. On Labor Day weekend, 1932, when I was twelve years old, he came to my hometown with the Dill Brothers Combined Shows--combined out of what, I wondered? He was a performer sitting in an electric chair and a stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end. I sat below, in the front row, and he reached down with a flaming sword full of electricity and he tapped me on both shoulders and then the tip of my nose and he cried, "Live, forever!" And I thought, "God, that's wonderful. How do you do that?"
I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. And so I went home and within days I began to write.As October draws in, it seems worth noting that Bradbury, 91 and counting, is still with us. Live, forever.