"Tiny LaVonda" was born LaVonda Stapp on January 3, 1920, the youngest of three daughters of Carl and Ella Fern Stapp. She suffered from the hereditary bone disorder osteogenesis imperfecta and when fully grown measured 24 inches tall, though she could not stand and could only be measured sitting down. LaVonda was married on December 30, 1945, to Alva Evans, a dwarf circus clown nearly 30 years her senior, and the couple established a permanent home in Bowling Green, Missouri. Five years after her marriage, LaVonda became pregnant. Her body too small and fragile to give birth, she underwent a cesarian section at a Louisiana, Missouri, hospital on March 24, 1951. Her baby boy, Francis Ronald, was born a month premature and weighed but four pounds. LaVonda was "proud as a peacock" when she saw the child and begged to hold him, but her doctors forbade it. Although doctors declared the baby "perfectly normal" and gave him a good chance to survive, he died two days later of respiratory insufficiency, his lungs too immature to sustain him.

Despite her disability and the tragic loss of her son, LaVonda retained a remarkably sunny attitude, as evidenced in the poem quoted below. Those who saw her perform remember a cheerful and well-adjusted woman who elicited respect and admiration rather than pity. LaVonda passed away on September 18, 1963 from unknown causes.

Left: Printed pitch card, ca. 1955, signed by LaVonda Evans. (author's collection)

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Face Fate with a Brave Sweet Smile

It is easy to stride where the road is wide,
And the pavement is firm and fine,
It is easy to skip, with a good still clip,
Where the road in a long white line;
It is jolly good fun down the hill to run
If there isn't a chance to fall,
But a man is "true blue" if he just plugs through
where there isn't a path at all.

It is easy to grin, when the cash rolls in,
If your life is a cloudless day;
It is easy to prance, at the costless dance
If the fiddler receives his pay.
It is easy to sing, till the rafters ring
If there is joy in the heart of the song;
But give me the fellow that doesn't show yellow
When everything goes dead wrong.

So remember friends, until this world ends,
Until God should reign as King Supreme;
Until Day and Night makes its last long flight
And this world is a shattered dream
Remember your frown, pulls the next man down;
Lend a hand, make his life worth while.
Give a "bearing face", to the human race,
And face Fate with a brave sweet smile.

-LaVonda
(from reverse of pitch card)

Updated 4.14.2006.