The Story of Hazel Eaton

Hazel Eaton Watkins, 3rd from left, sits on her indian motorcyle in 1927 at Olive Hager's Wall of Death.

 

HAZEL MARION EATON WATKINS OF SOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE WAS KNOWN AS THE FIRST "MILE-A-MINUTE GIRL" WHO RODE AN INDIAN MOTORCYCLE IN A CARNIVAL MOTORDROME - OTHERWISE KNOWN AS "THE WALL OF DEATH."

Hazel Marion Eaton was born on July 4, 1895 in West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine.  At 15 she joined the circus, despite objections from her parents who wanted her to be a hat maker. Her first acts included shallow diving from an elevated platform, hoop rolling, an Annie Oakley impressionist and working in a trained monkey act. Just two years after joining the Johnny Jones Circus, Hazel became a motorcyclist in "Watkins's Wall of Death" owned and operated by her first husband, Ira Watkins. The "Wall of Death" refers to a barrel shaped track where motorcyclists ride the walls at speeds that reach 60 miles per hour. Hazel also performed daring tricks such as riding without hands. Although injury often resulted in death in the motordrome, Hazel survived several bad falls including an incident when her back brake locked causing her to fall to the bottom of the motordrome. Even after breaking her back and suffering a serious head injury, Hazel returned to the circus the same year.

After 15 years of riding in the motordrome, Hazel purchased her own show and traveled to every state in America, including some Cuba, Canada and Europe. Hazel finally retired in 1942, returned to Maine and hosted fabulous parties with her best friend Beatrice Houdini, Harry Houdini's wife. Hazel died in Florida in 1970, leaving a wild legacy behind. 

Hazel has been an inspiration to us, which is why we named our company after her. As co-owners, Julia and Mackenzie are following their dreams. Although the risks are not as deadly as driving in the motordrome, Julia and Mackenzie still aim to live with Hazel's zest for life and her ability to follow her dreams. 

 
 

Hazel Images is a Julia Ellsworth Photography Subsidiary.