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March 3, 2003

Rough childhood made Canton man a clown

From: Canton Repository, OH - 03 Mar 2003

By GARY BROWN Repository Living Section editor

CANTON -- 'Sad Sam the Clown" didn't always hear the laughter he brought to children. He was nearly deaf.

"You don't have to hear, you don't have to read lips, to tell when a shiny-faced child is laughing," said "Sad Sam," who, when he wasn't wearing greasepaint, ragged and droopy clothes, and a cherry red pasted-on nose, was Andrew Tamper, a parcel post clerk at the downtown Canton post office.

Despite his painted-on frown, Tamper was hardly sad-appearing in his clown act, which he took frequently to schools, churches, hospitals and charity events. They were unpaid performances.

"The fun I get out of helping the children is all the pay I need," said "Sad Sam" during an appearance in February 1963 at Amos McDannel School.

Perhaps the clown was remembering his own childhood. Tamper said he never had time for the usual pleasures of children. His young life was spent working.

"I sold newspapers and candy to passengers on trains which stopped in Alliance in the afternoons and nights when I was in grade school," he recalled. "During the first couple of years of high school, I was putting in 12 hours a night at the depot, starting at 7 p.m. and finishing just in time for school."

His one joy was attending circuses that came to the area.

"When a circus was in town, there's where you'd find me," he laughed in 1963. "And by one means or another, I almost always got in to the clowns' dressing room. They were a wonderful bunch of fellows and showed me a lot of tricks, taught me how to apply my makeup and how to pantomime."

Tamper perfected his "Sad Sam" routine, then he took the clown act to children.

"Like to see children laugh," "Sad Sam" explained. "When I bring smiles to children, I feel I'm making up a little for a lot of the smiles I didn't get when I was a boy."

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