Both on the gymnastics squad at Clinton HS, Jack and Julia first joined a traveling circus in 1933 and were billed as the Jumping J's. They worked up an act that culminated with Jack climbing a high stack of barrels, falling down and (almost) breaking his crown, and Jill (Julia) tumbling after. Over the next five years they worked in six different circuses and three carnivals. The big break came in 1938, when traveling was getting a bit much, and they were looking to settle down. While attached to a circus that was performing just outside of Chicago, Jack saw a handbill for a $1000 dollar prize dance marathon. The money they won financed the J&J Cafe. Good food, a circus like atmosphere, and a waiter who could juggle plates.