Lucy Nickerson's childhood with her dad was no walk in the park - literally.
Trips to the park with dad were always a little weird for Lucy when he started practicing his juggling, then just a hobby.
"When we were growing up, it was just something Dad did," Lucy, now 35, said. "Going to the park was interesting because he'd practice in one area and we'd be on the swings and the other kids would say 'Is that your Dad?' "
"And then it would be, 'Daddy do we have to go to the park,'" said Lucy's father, Bob, with a laugh as they both reminisced while they sat on the porch of their Cresson home.
The family has come a long way since those days. For one, juggling is now a career for Bob. His claims to fame include the mastery of dribbling tricks and the ability to juggle three seven-pound kettle bells.
And the Nickersons have become a juggling family. Bob's juggling comedy routine features Lucy heavily, as the two exchange heckles and Indian clubs.
Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich
Bob Nickerson spins a hula hoop around his neck while juggling tennis balls through it near his home in Cresson.
"She has taken up the slack as my skills are eroding," Bob said. "And she has skills of her own."
The family has lived in the area for 30 years, though Bob's juggling started while he was in Guam with his wife, who was stationed there with the Navy, and he decided to take a kung fu class.
"I was the oldest and hairiest and fattest guy there," Bob said, adding that was 35 years and 100 pounds ago.
He thought about what he could do at home to practice and get faster hands, and decided on juggling - not knowing it would become an obsession he would work to perfect for the next 10 years.
"It just opened up a whole new world of 'wow, I never believed this was possible,'" he said.
Lucy also likes to point out that he started juggling the year she was born.
"He said I drove him to it," she said.
In 1979, Bob went to his first juggling convention. That's where he found that he wasn't alone in his obsession.
"Juggling is such a small world," he said. "It was as if I was a singer and I got to meet Pavarotti and Springsteen and Paul McCartney and Elvis all at the same party."
Along with finding people that shared his passion, Bob also found he was doing something that nobody else was - dribbling four basketballs at once.
And in 1990, the "Guin-ness Book of World Records" accepted Bob's dribbling trick as well as his ability to juggle three balls and shooting 20 layups in one minute. His athletic-related tricks, now the crux of his act, have given Bob the title the "Jock-ular Juggler." Both world records he earned in 1990 have since been broken.
At 67, Bob has become a little broken, too. He had a shoulder injury, and now has a hernia. He has two ar-tificial knees and also will be getting an artificial hip.
"I'm old and slow and broken down, but I can still juggle," he said.
Despite the fact that his juggling has gone "downhill in a major way," Bob said his comedy has improved over the years.
"I'm actually funnier than I was 20 years ago," he said. "It's easier to be funny when you're old and ugly than it is when you're young and handsome."
It seems Bob is at his funniest when he is making fun of himself. He has a whole list of fat jokes - "I'm not fat, I'm just retaining chocolate" or "I'm not most jugglers, but maybe two or three of them by weight" - which you would never know were at his expense if you looked at his face while he told it to you.
"A comedian cannot be too handsome because it kills the effect, you have to make fun of yourself," he said. "Comedy has pain at its route. It has to be somebody getting the short end of the stick. So yeah, I've got a whole bunch of fat jokes."
Lucy said he has to make fun of himself "or they will." But Bob also has a few lines for hecklers that seem intoxicated: "I see we have an alcoholic who no longer wishes to remain anonymous," "Hey buddy, didn't you know you shouldn't drink on an empty head" and "This guy seems to be about 12 steps short of a program."
No matter who he meets along the way, Bob said he will continue to travel and showcase his craft. He hopes to work juggling eight-pound bowling balls and seven-pound kettle bells into his routine after he has his hernia fixed this month and spends three more months recovering.
Bob said that with the Internet, he has seen so many great jugglers and juggling has progressed. Though he no longer holds any world records, he said he's never been mad at anyone for simulating or stealing his tricks.
"In juggling, there are, of course, signature tricks... my four-ball dribbling, several other people have done that now, but I think they held off for quite a while because, you know, 'That's Bob Nickerson's trick,' " he said. "It's sort of an honor to have someone else steal your trick, as long as they don't steal your routine."
Despite his and other jugglers YouTube successes, Bob said he still doesn't see too many jugglers on TV or meet many people who can name a juggler off the top of their heads.
"Jugglers are near the bottom end of the entertainment scale," he said. "Thank goodness for clowns."
Bob Nickerson can be reached at 886-4712 for booking or other information.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.
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