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Harry Avalon and his pregnant wife, Anna, climbed up to the trapeze, blindfolded themselves, and swung out on the swings. While they were in midair, about to meet, lightning stuck the main pole of the tent and sizzled down the guy wires, collapsing the whole tent. and sending Harry into the crowd, killing him. When his wife did not feel her husband's hands, she tore away her blindfold, grabbed ahold of a hot wire, which burned her hands badly, and was slowly lowered to the floor. She was not hurt until an overeager rescuer broke her arm while extricating her from the wire also bringing down a portion of the tent that knocked her unconscious. This sent her to the hospital for many weeks where she met a doctor, married him, and ended the Avalon Trapeze Act.
The end to the act called the Flying Avalons is described in "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich as part of the narrator's reflections about her own history and her relationship to her mother, Anna Avalon.
The Flying Avalons were a couple, Anna and Harold Avalon, who performed a blindfolded trapeze act for a circus. Their final performance was in New Hampshire. The day started out like any ordinary performance, but just as the Avalons were coming to the finale of their act, an intense thunderstorm arose, causing lightning to strike the tent in which they were performing. As the tent started to collapse, Harry fell and died, and Anna, who was pregnant at the time, managed to survive by grabbing a guy wire. She burned her palms badly and one of her arms was broken when she was rescued.
The death of Harold ended the act. Anna, while in the hospital, met and married the narrator's father and retired from the circus.
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