The following text is from a People magazine article published on April
ON THE ONE HAND, DALE JONES CAN juggle three balls using
a tennis racket. He also can juggle one ball and a head of lettuce while taking
messy bites of the lettuce.
On the other hand...well, he can't use the other hand. A childhood
injury left him with an atrophied right arm and hand. So Jones, bitten by the
juggling bug as a teenager, is now at 35, the only one-handed professional juggler in
America known to the International Jugglers Association.
One of four sons of a salesman and a schoolteacher, Jones grew up in the
suburbs of St. Louis. When he was 8, he broke his arm in a fall from a jungle gym.
Complications set in, resulting in infections of his muscles and tendons, and,
despite 25 operations, he lost most of the use in his arm and hand. "Some of my
other children would have been devasted by this, "says Jones's mother, Rita,
"but Dale is so confident - he handled this better than I would have."
"My arm was different," says Jones. "It was very
scarred. But when you have to constantly prove you are better than other people, it
makes you want to achieve and overachieve."
When Jones was 15, he saw another student juggling in the high school
cafeteria. "The girls were going crazy over it," he says. He
walked into the lunch line, took two oranges and, on his third try, managed to juggle them
with his left hand.
During the next year, Jones practiced endlessly, learning to compensate for
his nearly useless arm by bouncing juggled objects off his feet, knees and chin. At
21, despite his parents' qualms, he joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
Circus, where he stayed for less than a year and then launched his own career.
"I'm more of a fighter than people think," he says. "You don't get to
be a one-armed juggler by quitting."
These days, Jones, whose wife, Janet, 31, is a preschool teacher, makes what
he calls "a nice middle class living" working state fairs, trade shows, colleges
and cruise ships. Ultimately he sees himself going into another line, perhaps public
relations. Until then, though, his plans are in the air. ©
|April 13th, 1992
Vol. 37, No. 14