Remembering Walter Gould Sr. 1947-2023
It was at the 1989 Chemung County Fair in Elmira, New York where Electrical Supervisor Walter Gould Sr. first joined Strates Shows. But he was no newcomer to show business. Walter was born on the Glad Stone Amusement Show in Plainview, Texas in 1947. He was raised on the carnival and worked the show before he was old enough to go to school. He first worked in a quarter box selling tickets and by age nine had moved into a regular job selling nickels in a nickel pitch. It is here that he received his nickname “Nickel Head” for selling more nickels than anyone in his concession.
He learned the electrical trade while on the William T. Collins Shows. Collins Shows was eventually bought out by Murphy Brothers Shows of Tulsa where Walter worked as chief electrician for over 15 years while also doubling as a ride superintendent.
On Strates Shows Walter oversaw the activities for the entire electrical department including the body work, welding, wiring, and painting of all the show’s generators. He had a never-ending responsibility for laying out and distributing junction boxes, electrical cables across the midway and troubleshooting problems on ride equipment. As rides got bigger and more complex, Walt would continue to update his skills to master whatever task was sent his way. He took great pride his maintaining computer driven spectaculars like “Top Spin.”
In a 1991 article about Gould, E. James Strates said, “He does a big job graciously, without any emotional crisis. Walter is a good family man and is a real pleasure to be around… perfect for Strates Shows.”
Gould tried other jobs over the years… factory work, long-distance trucking… but he was always bored.
When asked about being on the road, Gould once said, “I recommend that any young man of 18-19 spend a few years out here (on the road). Once you’ve done it, even if you go off the road, you’ll miss it. Life gets boring after a while.”
Gould rejoined Strates on the road in 2019 where he used his skills and love of the midway to again assist Strates Shows until last November (2022).
Strates Shows, the Strates Family and the entire team lost a good friend last week as Walter D. Gould Sr. passed at his home in Kissimmee after a battle with cancer. He was preceded in death by his wife Patricia and is survived by his four sons John, Jeffery, Walter, and Mark, their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Our deepest condolences to the Gould Family and to his hundreds of friends on the show and across the route. RIP.