Ike Reed, a New York Bohemian, contributes several columns of slush to the Mercury every week under the signature of “Harry Hill“ and he manages to revamp about as many “back numbers” and “chestnuts” as anyone I know of. In Book Second, Part Third, Chapter XXVI, he goes on to tell a cock-and-bull story about “Old Man Adams,” the father of George H. Adams, of circus and “Humpty Dumpty” fame, running a concert saloon in company with Paul Berger called “Adams’ Eden Saloon.” (17) All this is said to have occurred in the days of the Hone House, long enough before Adams, Sr., ever came to America. Mr. Adams was first connected with French’s circus after his arrival in America, afterwards with Donnelly of Brooklyn variety fame, and later still with John H. Murray’s circus, but never did he keep a saloon, “Adams’ Eden” as related by Reed.
Rummaging among a lot of odd papers in the bottom of my trunk, I came across a memorandum in the handwriting of L. M. W. Steere, written upon a bill-head of the City Billposting Co., Cornell, Haskins & Co., 21 1/2 Washington Street, Providence, R.I. It is not dated but must refer to 1875. A footnote runs: “Above are a few of the circus agents, press agents, lithographers, etc., in advance of circuses that have been visiting ‘Pop Steere,’ who has charge of the City Billposting Co. in the absence of C. F. Haskins.” The agents mentioned are L. B. Lent, F. A. Keeler, C. W. Fuller, Ed Tinkham, George M. Tiffany, Mike Coyle, Richard Fitzgerald, William S. Irving, Charles H. Day, Claude DeHaven, C. F. Haskins, C. M. Perry, Reed Howes, and Uncle John Tryon.
Editor Corbett of the Journal was at the time publishing a Sunday paper in Providence and he will bear witness that it was a merry party gathered there. L. B. Lent is still hale and hearty and was out ahead of Frank Robbins’ last season. F. A. Keeler is billposter at Albany, N.Y., likes Lew June and hates Charles Gayler. Ed Tinkham was with Barnum last year. Tiffany is retired. Charles W. Fuller was with Forepaugh last year. Mike Coyle, ditto. Dick Fitzgerald is a dramatic agent and bulldog raiser. William S. Irving is at Booth’s Printing Office. I am -----. Claude DeHaven is editing the Indicator. Charley Haskins is still at the head of a billposting firm in the same place. Perry I have lost track of. Reed Howes and Uncle John Tryon are both no more. The names of eighteen lithographers, etc., appear in the list. Among them is J. M. Fuller, now superintendent of Fuller’s Detective Bureau, N.Y.
Quaint, genial Pop Steere passed away years ago. He was an old attaché of the New York Circus in its palmy days. Steere’s initials were L. M. W. and he received the title of “Little More Whiskey” Steere from the late Ned Kendall in one of his funny effusions, “The Pockmarked Brotherhood.” (18)
Kendall was an old time circus agent himself and a man of most extraordinary ability. There was another Steere in New England, a drummer for a manufacturer of fireworks, whom all the people and circus folks knew. To designate him, he was dubbed by Kendall, “the other Steere.”
Col. T. Allston Brown could tell many a funny story about Kendall and Steere if he saw fit, for the Colonel can write and was one of the early founders of the Clipper’s prosperity when it hid in an Ann Street garret, long before Frank Queen made a fortune and put up his newspaper palace opposite his old newsstand location in the days of his poverty-hood. Brown was with Jim Nixon and Noah just after the flood.
Jim Nixon could furnish reminiscences enough of his own career to fill a volume and a right interesting one it would be, too. Nixon did a very shrewd thing once when he set New York wild with Ella Zoyara (Omar Kingsley), who was riding a female principal act. (19) Business was tremendous at Niblo’s and Nixon was coining money, when out comes the New York Tribune and gave the whole snap away - told the truth that Ella Zoyara was not a beautiful girl at all but a real man. Did the sly James go to fighting the Tribune and contradict it and all that? No such thing. He just covered the dead-walls and billboards with posters quoting the Tribune exposure entirely, word for word. Result: no one believed the Tribune article and Nixon made more money than before.
It is amazing how professionals in every walk of show life will stick to the business, many coming to the front again after a respite from their labors. Even at this writing we have the spectacle of a Ristori again treading the boards in an endeavor to renew the triumphs of the past. But to drop from high tragedy to sawdust, Hyatt Frost is again to take the road and once more unfurl the banner of VanAmburgh to the breezes, having formed an alliance to that end with the immensely wealthy Reiches, the German animal importers of New York. Francis M. Kelsh, “the Captain,” as poor Castle, dead and gone, loved to call him, has left the “swift and sure” of Doris and will make the railroad contracts. Charles W. Kidder will make the other contracts, and H. B. Knapp will be the advertiser. E. D. Colvin will be the manager and run all the privileges and Herman Reiche, treasurer. There’s a team for you and plenty of bullion at the back of it.
John W. Hamilton has got the red wagon fever and wants to go on the road again. Jack served with Barnum and the London and was particularly successful in New York City. When he left the business to manage the Mt. Morris Theatre, his brother, Tody, took up the place left vacant by his brother’s retiring. Jack is fiery and pugnacious and never so happy as when engaged in a newspaper broil. Tody is perhaps a little more pliable, as they say Down East.
David B. Sickels, who made a donkey of himself last summer by endorsing Barnum’s white elephant, is writing a series of articles on Siam for the Current. If his accounts are as truthful as his yarns about Charles Reiche that sandpapered beast, Mr. Wakeman ought to present to every purchaser of the Current a pound of salt.
Shed LeClair died abroad a short time ago in a lunatic asylum. He was brought to America in 1873 by John H. Murray with John LeClair and three of the Leopold Brothers, who are now achieving a great success in “Frivolity.” He married one of the Stuart Sisters, who were with Sheridan, Mack & Day in 1875. (20) In 1874, Murray opened the season in Newark, N.J., and for the first performance Shed LeClair volunteered to go in and do George H. Adams’ act of the previous season - the tall stilts. Shed got along very well until he came to the finish where he drops the dress, dons the bonnet, and appears as a very grotesque giantess. Just at that moment he stumbled into a stake hole with one stilt and down he came kerslap! It took four property men with Tom Barry, the clown steering the stilts, to get the discomfited performer out of the ring and into the dressing room. Manager Murray, who was dignity personified, had to join in the explosion that followed and performers and audience laughed until they were sore.
John H. Murray first brought over Whimsical Walker in 1875. In 1880 he came over again for Forepaugh. James A. Bailey would like to see him again but I don’t think the climate agrees with Whimsical. When Whimsical was with Forepaugh, he had a quarrel with Wooda Cook over a game of billiards. So the same afternoon he came to Mr. Forepaugh, who was reading a newspaper at the circus entrance, and said, “Beg pardon, Mr. Forepaugh, but I’m going to lick Wooda Cook.”
The main guy hardly looked up from his paper but he chuckled a low, quiet laugh and said, “Oh, that’s all right. I have no objection.”
Away went Walker, full of fight, as fierce as the British lion on the rampage. To every performer and acquaintance he met about the show en route to the dressing room, he remarked, “I’m going to lick Wooda Cook. The Governor is willing.”
Everybody smiled and advised him to do it. Five minutes later Walker returned to the front door and he was a sight to behold. His mug looked as if he had been hit by a cyclone. His nose was bloody and out of shape and both eyes were in mourning. He stood a speechless figure of misery before his manager, who removed his gold-rimmed eye glasses for a moment for a better view and made the consoling remark, “Well, I see you did it.”
“Happy” Jack Lawton, I see, is down south auctioneering. I have a little bit of a story about Jack. Years ago Billy Burke and Ted Croueste were clowning with Mike Lipman, your uncle in Cincinnati at the sign of the three gilded balls. The countrymen used to call Ted, Croset; and the Joey was about as much out of humor with his name as W. C. Coup is with his. Lawton was outside orator, stentorian solicitor, in front of the sideshow but had an ambition to be a clown. Hearing that S. C. Wheeler was in want of a clown, he on the quiet put on some of Burke and Croueste’s togs and, wearing them under his street dress, turned up in Wheeler’s dressing room with the big conundrum, “Do you want to hire a clown?” They did.
“Well then, here I am,” said Lawton, and off went the outer garments and he stood before them, a clown all ready for the ring. That was the first appearance of “Happy” Jack Lawton in any arena.
Years and years ago, Van Orden, a very talented gentleman, was press agent for Spalding & Rogers. (That must have been about the time Charles Gayler was studying law. I believe he was related to Dr. Spalding but that is neither here nor there.) He was traveling down the river, bearing with him a large sum of money and, participating in a game of “draw,” he dropped every cent of his own money and Spalding & Rogers‘ to boot. How to face the Doctor he did not know but, after due deliberation, he went about it in this way. On meeting Dr. Spalding in New Orleans, he “passed the time of day” and then went on to say, “Doctor, suppose I was coming down the Mississippi on the steamboat and should dabble a little in cards, using your money, for instance, and win a good deal, would you be in with it?”
The Doctor cleared his throat and exclaimed, “Why, to be sure, Van. It was my money and it would be no more than right that I should be in with it.”
“Then you have no objections to my having risked your money?”
“Not in the slightest,” returned the Doctor, quite sure that Van had won a pile.
“Well then, you are in with it?” questioned Van Orden.
“Yes,” answered Spalding.
The answer, to Sullivanize, knocked the Doctor out, “You are in with it. I lost every dollar.”
There will be a most decided frost for those who follow Hyatt Frost next season. He is going right back to our grandfathers’ days, when all the elephants and accompaniments were to be seen for a quarter of a miser’s soul. The VanAmburgh show will be put on exhibition at twenty-five cents.
Mr. Frost has directed the destinies of this time honored institution for many a year. In its rejuvenation it will indulge in all the modern improvements. No longer will its performers eat the one o’clock breakfast and hasten along the railway over mountain and dale to make the next stand. In its own special cars, it will be steamed from place to place. Hyatt Frost will hunt up country as of yore. Captain Francis Kelsh will buzz the railroad magnets and [their] counsels. The advertisers will have no time to nap under Knapp and no kidder will kid Kidder, who is anything but a contracted contractor. E. Darwin Colvin, the Doctor, will manage the fabric and dispense lemonade (the clear juice), peanuts (meaty ones, not hollow mockeries), candies and ginger cakes to rural belles and beaux. Mr. Colvin will also control the freak tent and the grand after-show, “which will take place, etc. Price ten cents.”
When grandma and grandpa read the name VanAmburgh on billboard, they’ll become coltish and kittenish and take their grand-children to see the show that pleased them so much in their courting days.
Frost is backed by a lifetime’s experience and the ducats of the Reiche’s, who are enormously wealthy and live in good shape at Hoboken, N.J. They are the extensive bird and animal importers and have grown rich selling stuff to all the shows in existence since I can recollect, including Burr Robbins. The Reiches have had almost a monopoly on the canary bird trade and if any reader has a pet canary in his cage, it is pretty safe to wager that the Reiches made their percentage on it. One of the Reiches was associated with William C. Coup in the establishment of the New York Aquarium. Den Stone also went to Germany under their management with a party of American Indians. Frosts’ outlook is good. Yankee snap and German thrift will tell.
Ben Maginley is a “May Blossom” with the Madison Square traveling company, playing Belasco’s latest and best. When I see Ben on the stage I can see double, without going out “to see a man” between the acts. The double is Ben’s other self - the clown of the circus ring as I used to know him; and when the well dressed villain of the play walks the stage, I look in vain for the ringmaster’s whip. Wonder if Parson Mallory of the Holy Madison Square ever saw Benjamin in the fool’s motley. (21) I don’t believe he did. Well then, he missed a sight. Ben used to crack a pretty wheeze expressly for the little folks; and then he’d sing a song that would make Col. Mapleson of Her Majesty’s Marines sick with envy. In Ben’s circus days he was manager and often is the time he has been stuck in the mud in the early spring and addressed words of consolation to the tired mules. As a circus manager, he was often liable to be blown down. As an actor, he might be blown up by the critics but the scribes will take kindly to the rotund comedian. Ben is a jolly soul and it is “worth the price of admission” to hear him laugh.
Last winter Benjamin was out West “acting out,” as the natives called it, in one of those truly good milk-and-water plays of brother Mallory. Attached to the theatre was an old cully who had traveled with Ben in the days of the Maginley & Carroll show. (22) His nibs was acting as the gallery officer and was proud to greet his old employer. It is probably a fact that the gallery guardian worked up half the business of the night by sounding the praises of Ben Maginley.
The eventful night came and Ben’s most enthusiastic admirer was the best listener in the house. But as the fates would have it, an intoxicated individual created a disturbance. The officer tried to pacify the infractor. Then the intoxicated individual argued the point, interrupting one of Ben’s best scenes. The play went on. So did the drunken guy. Then Ben rung into his lines the circus war cry, “Hey rube!”
The only cully in the gallery prickled up his ears. Ben again interlarded, “Fake!”
The veteran complied with the request, to state it mildly. He knocked the noisy chap down and there was peace.
Tom Barry, who first made a hit in this country by playing Irish clowns with L. B. Lent in the old Iron Building, returns to the foolscap next season with the VanAmburgh party, having been lured thereto by Hyatt Frost. Tom used to be a great favorite in New England and the lower British provinces in the days of the Stone & Murray and the John H. Murray shows. Mr. Barry has always been both a jester and gentleman and one of the emigrants from abroad who has never boasted of his intimacy with the Queen and the royal family at ‘ome or made himself odious in the dressing room by relating how much better everything is done “over there.”
Last summer Tom was factotum for one of Dr. Heeley’s many medicine shows, Dr. Barry being located in Brooklyn. At the beginning of the season, the patrons of the great Sagwa combination were inclined to be turbulent but they soon came to understand that Mr. Thomas Barry, M.D., by brevet, meant business and that he could not only heal the flesh but bruise it, too, as their noses and eyes gave good evidence. Tom was his own bouncer and it was the best act on the program of events.
It is recorded that Johnny Patterson is to clown with Lloyd’s circus in Belfast, Ireland. Everybody knows Patterson, who made his appearance and hit in this country with the London show under Parks, Davis & Dockrill. Afterwards, he was for a long time with Doris.
Lloyd must be the James Lloyd who was engaged by Sam Watson and brought to this country for Forepaugh. Lloyd long enjoyed the reputation of being the best hurdle rider in England. His sons also rode and did the tight-rope. Lloyd had plenty of money and Watson one day in London, finding himself unexpectedly called upon for a large amount, was proffered the loan of the sum by the saving circus rider who had the money and to spare.
Lloyd’s economical ways were a constant source of amusement to the people with Forepaugh. He would call for one oyster stew for the two boys, then get an extra plate and spoon and divide the refreshments, swelling the supply by adding a glass of milk. Sunday he would retire to some shady nook and the boys would divest themselves of their shirts and underclothes while their parent washed them in the adjacent brook or stream. After the raiment had dried hanging on the bushes, the boys would redress and follow their pa back to town.
Charles Forbes advertises himself in the Clipper as a circus bill writer and twice in his own announcement commits a couple of most ridiculous grammatical errors. No one doubts that Mr. Forbes is “a close, calculating businessman, just the one to make billboard contracts, hire lots and the like ahead of a show;” but, when it comes to writing anything except his name to a check and filling out a statement of local expenses, he is as much at a loss as William W. Durand would be in writing biblical poetry. Charles Forbes is just as much of a circus bill writer as Harry Cordova and neither one could produce an original bill in six months to save their lives.
There are writers in the circus business. They are men who can make their living by their literary abilities. Charles Stow writes costic verse and is an editor. William W. Durand is an ex-city editor of the Louisville Courier Journal. Both the Hamiltons were journalists. Poor Crowley was a reporter and a good one, too. Dave Thomas has been a journalist. Charles Gayler is a journalist, dramatist, and novelist. The late William Adams was Dana’s right hand man on the Sun. Fred Hunt enjoyed a long connection with the Cincinnati press. Even William C. Crum could write more or less, especially less. Perley, Louis E. Cooke, Joel E. Warner, and Peter Sells, Jr., are writers who write - although none of them, I believe, set themselves up as literary men. Warner has written some clever letters from abroad to the papers of Jackson, Michigan, where he resides. (23) Joel E., like Stow, is a born orator and most entertaining talker.
It always makes me hot to see a man set himself up for a writer who does not know “B” from bull’s foot. Fred Lawrence is one of the “ancient and honorable” who can write right and I shall be disappointed if he does not “catch on.” Matt Leland can write a bill and pretty poetry to his girl. William H. Gardner can drive a quill if necessary. George K. Steele is perfectly honest about his bill writing. He says, “Murray and I set down in the barn and write our bills with scissors and paste-pot. We just pick out all that’s good in all of them.”
Hutchinson and Colvin could give Holland, Sanger, and Hengler points on peanuts. Doris knows more about gingercakes or “the juice” than all three together. What chance do you suppose Holland would stand swapping horses with Adam Forepaugh? Sanger will never know so much about billposting as James A. Bailey, and Hengler wouldn’t be a patch as an advertiser to P. T. Barnum. The Sangers may have jaunted around some in their days but they will never live to equal Hyatt Frost as a circus traveler.
I have spoken of P. T. Barnum as an advertiser and he is an originator and a producer and a constant suggester to his retained writers and continually supplies them with hints written down on bits of paper, old envelopes, and, for that matter, the first thing that comes handy wherever he may be - at home in his library, in the cars or the strange hotel. Every line of the stock letter press that is prepared in the winter, he sees and criticizes and he is not loath to drop a word of judicious praise. It is related that once late-in-the-winter-time the manuscript for the couriers and quartersheets was sent up to Bridgeport for his perusal and, as the scribes did not enthuse over the “Greatest Show on Earth” with any degree of uniformity of statement, the whole mass was packed up in a soap box and shipped to Madison Square Garden with the request, “Please lie with some uniformity.”
Barnum, Bailey, and Hutchinson are very appreciative employers, from the fact that they are competent judges of good work. Barnum himself is a writer. Bailey has a nose for advertising, the same as a good reporter has for news or an old maid for scandal. Hutchinson was once a compositor. He knows good writing and is a critic when it is in cold type or in proof. A great majority of the cards that appear in print during a circus war, or in the advance advertising of the Barnum show, are written by P. T. himself and he has a knack of doing them.
How some circus folks do wander. For instance, there is George Loyal and his wife Ella Zuila. They are never so content as when in the diamond regions of Africa, the old-eating land of Greasers, or some out-of-the-way end-of-the-earth place. I have been led to these remarks by looking over the route book of the Watson Family, returned to America to join the VanAmburgh & Reiche Bros.’ Shows. They opened with Chiarini’s Royal Italian Circus at San Francisco, August 7, 1879. September 29 of the same year they sailed for Aukland, New Zealand, beginning a tour of the world; returning to America after an absence of four years, five months, and seven days, having traveled 82,118 miles.
I doubt if any of the famous travelers ever made so extended a tour, visited as many strange lands, or covered as many miles in the same time or at all. Chiarini is one of the most venturesome and, at the same time, one of the greatest circus managers of the day. The sea journeys were long; San Francisco to Aukland, 3,907 miles. The next voyage made was 1,169 miles. Skimming over the record, I find figures of ocean trips: 500 miles, 800 miles, 544 miles, 420 miles, 750 miles, 1,346 miles, 550 miles, 1,411 miles, 600 miles, 800 miles, 1,182 miles, 945 miles, 1,480 miles, 1,280 miles, 3,940 miles, 1,292 miles, 963 miles, and 3,020 miles. These figures I have jotted down at random as I have turned the pages of the record.
Talk about “jumps,” that beats anything I ever heard of in the circus business. Of course, their wanderings took them hither and yon, right and left, and here and there; but Mr. Frederick Watson informs me that when he made a jump home of 3,020 miles and reached New York, he had been one and one-half times around the globe. The Watson Family visited professionally the Sandwich Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Java, India, China, Siam, Manila, Spain, England, and other parts and places too numerous to mention.
Some other of our circus people have swung about the circle quite extensively. James Robinson has rode in almost every land and before the crowned heads and block heads of every nation. Charles W. Fish has done the best of Europe. Charles Reed is now considered one of the best horseman abroad. John Worland has seen circusing pretty much the world over.
Down in James Reilly’s printing office is a picture of Frank Farwell, the founder of the house that was in the days before Bacon or Clary and Reilly. A son of Bacon’s is a job compositor at the old stand and the venerable Thad Anderson, the foreman, is an heirloom handed down to the Doctor with the good will and the plant.
Castle was also a great favorite about the printing houses but up to all sorts of tricks to gain information and, if he was not watched, would be all over the sap bush, poking his nose into every nook and cranny. Coming on to New York one time to order some printing of Farwell, he found that the boss had gone on to the Rice show to see if he could collect some money. If the truth has been told, Daniel was never any too prompt in paying at any stage of his career. Be that as it may, Farwell’s patience had become exhausted and he had gone on to the show to make a raise. Mr. Farwell made a failure. Rice did not pony up, so he telegraphed home not to ship any more printing to Rice. The dispatch was delivered at Farwell’s place of business bright and early in the morning. Castle was there and captured the dispatch. Its tenor was: “Ship no more printing to Dan Rice.”
Castle pocketed the dispatch, ordered a goodly supply of printing in great haste, saw it boxed and shipped, and then went up town to his hotel. When he was quite sure that the printing was well on the road, he sent the delayed dispatch down to Farwell’s office. Of course there was an explosion when the printer got home; and Dan Rice, politician, philanthropist, and jester, had to ante before he got any more pictorial paper.
In 1872, George F. Bailey threw a bombshell into the managerial camp by exhibiting for twenty-five cents. John H. Murray, Howes’ London show (James E. Kelley, manager), and L. B. Lent‘s show were all going East. Kelley had in his employ one Capt. Hughes, a so-called writer about the literary caliber of Harry Cordova or Charlie Whitney. He was in a great state of anxiety about the Bailey show and got his desired information by slipping into Booth’s printing office at the dinner hour. He found an electrotype plate all ready for the press, read the fat line, “Admission Twenty-Five Cents,” and sneaked out to report to his master.
When Billy Burke strikes Ohio, he draws largely. William E. fought and bled in one of the regiments of that state and it is wonderful how many boys in blue fought shoulder to shoulder with the old clown. The veterans waited on him in such numbers this winter at the United States Hotel, Columbus, that he had to conceal himself in the solitudes of Sellsville to save himself from their good natured importunities. Bill has relations in Ohio and during one of his visits they came down on him in whole families. There was a blooming cousin of the fair sex, with red hair just like Bill’s only more of it. Bill is badly bald. The clown invited the whole tribe to supper. They joined. The contracting agent had made a mistake and the show was stopping at a good hotel. That agent, let it be remarked, rarely makes a mistake. I hate to see injustice done to any man. This was a slip. “Slips don’t count.”
Bill’s cousin sat at his right hand and she chewed through the bill of fare until the waiter asked, “Miss, will you have some of the fruit, canned peaches?”
Bill‘s carrot-ty cousin simpered, “Yes, I’ll take a can, if you please.”
A late number of the Indianapolis Journal contains an alleged interview with John B. Doris and compresses about as many mis-statements as I ever saw condensed in the same amount of space. I’ve heard that Mr. Doris has been unwell of late. He must have been very sick at the time the reporter came in contact with him and almost gone. He begins by relating that Adam Forepaugh and the Sells Brothers began life by selling concert tickets and lemonade on the seats of the circus. Well, to answer temperately, they did not. Doris is made to say that circus people call each other “rubens.” The reporter will please call one of Doris’ canvasmen a “ruben” when his show opens in Indianapolis, first selecting a soft place of ground to lie down on. A “ruben” is a “jay,” a “gawk,” a “gill;” not an attaché of the circus, but a patron who has come to town to see the show without first combing the hayseed out of his hair.
Doris, in the interview, credits W. C. Coup with being the inventor of the railroad show. “Oh, me! Oh, my! Oh, me!” L. B. Lent, Spalding & Rogers, and others ran railroad shows when Coup was a sideshow talker and Doris was selling peaches in a huckster’s cart in Albany. Doris is a good fellow, if he does have the gout like thunder. Perhaps he had an extra twinge that day and talked a little reckless to the pencil pusher.
That quaint character, Bill Devere, (24) sometimes called “Big Foot,” is singing his songs in New York and reciting his ordinary poems in his own inimitable way. William is a poet that could tackle Joaquine Miller in a six-day go-as-you-please at rhyming and come up smiling at the end of the last lap of the last day without turning a hair gray. Bill is chock full of talent but hasn’t the exact faculty of applying it. A rough diamond of the first water. He has written some good things, as your readers know. Perhaps if Bill had let his hair grow and oiled his soap locks and called himself William Deverequin, he would have been more of a success. Devere could be the poet laureate of the sawdust, as Miller is the poet laureate of the plain. Burns liked the allurements of the tavern and Bill is at home surrounded by the fumes of the burning weed, the merriment of the roysterers and the oysterers, who exclaim, “The world is mine oyster,” and go out after dark hunting the shell fish. Devere rhymes with wit, sense, and pathos, but for reasons best known to himself he mounts his fancy at times to ride in pursuit of dreams. Bill is not much of a saint or much of a sinner but when his last trump is called I guess he’ll pass.
Frank Ashton does a very clever hand balance act and he found his accomplishment quite handy one day last summer while laying off at the St. Charles Hotel in New York. Ashton, it appears, had suffered an injury to one of his ankles and on that account could not walk upon his feet; but when he wished to visit the hotel office, he simply reversed the order of things and walked on his hands. One day during his stay at the St. Charles, a regiment of militia came gaily marching down Broadway with colors flying and band playing. Ashton heard the music and, throwing up his feet, he marched down stairs ahead of all the rest.
A chronic borrower struck Francis, the leaper, at the St. Charles just after supper for a loan.
“Haven’t got a cent,” answered Francis.
The loan solicitor appeared incredulous but Francis convinced him by standing on his head and remarking, “You can have all that drops out of my pockets.”
Most of the circus agents and managers know Vanderbilt of the firm of Crane & Co., the wood engravers. Van has in his day dabbled considerably in the show business. One of his latest ventures was a panorama of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The manager found that the public did not take kindly to his moral show. They expected to see a play and not a painting; and, in their anger, they made rude remarks and threw the chairs and benches at the work of art. Vanderbilt sold the panorama to Doc Healy, the patent medicine showman, [who] painted out the Negroes and changed them into Indians.
P. T. Barnum’s hobby is still his autobiography. At the opening of the show at the Madison Square Garden, William D. Hagar of the privileges showed me a letter from Barnum covering two closely written pages of note paper, giving him pointers how to work the book.
A friend of mine, on arriving in Gotham last fall, called on the bankers and made a deposit of his summer earnings. It was one of those peculiar monied institutions where the more you put down the less you take up. This winter, the man who had monkeyed with the tiger, met a professional friend, who remarked, “I think next season will be a tough one.”
“It couldn’t be any worse for me than the last one,” was the reply. “I worked all summer for a suit of clothes.”
A veteran manager was telling me the other day that he looked forward to the time when the circus managers would all meet in the winter and equitably divide up the territory. I inquired when he expected that time to come.
He answered, “At the millennium.”
Before Tom Barry came to America, as the biographers have it, “he had a large and varied experience abroad,” having roughed it with the small shows in his early days and started later on with Hengler, and the other circus lights. (25) About ‘55 or ‘56, Thomas was with a small trick called Hayes & Brothers‘, following the fairs and taking in the smaller towns. They pulled down at Redditch at night after the show, so as to reach Banbury on time for the fair next day. One of the Brothers Hayes, had a peculiar twist to his neck, caused by falling from a balloon during an exhibition ascension and was a peculiar character at the best.
As they set out on their all night journey, Tom ventured to make the inquiry, “Who knows the way? How are we going to get to Banbury?”
Hayes, with a neck awry answered, “I’ll steer you proper, Tom, or I’ll travel by the moon.”
So they set out and traveled near to morning. At last the guide called a halt. He dismounted and took a survey. Tom Barry remarked, “If I’m any judge, we are ten miles from no place on the direct road to nowhere.”
The managerial pilot took an observation and peered in the darkness all around, then looked long and anxiously at the moon.
“Well?” spoke Thomas.
Then the manager made answer, “Tom, blow my heyes hif we ain’t on the wrong bloody side of the moon.”
Tom Barry is going to try on the Irish clown again with VanAmburgh next summer. He made a success of it in England and a hit with L. B. Lent at his first appearance in America at the old Iron Building on 14th Street. When Tom was playing Hibernian clown with Hengler in 1864, he took a benefit and announced it in verse:
A maiden, spotless as the snow
And just about to marry,
Was led to take so wise a step
By list’ning to TOM BARRY.
If you but listen to his jokes,
You quickly grief may parry;
“By thunder, smoke, and jibbareens,
Here’s luck to bold TOM BARRY.”
So haste, dear Phil, and Mike, and Pat,
And you, young dancing Larry;
Be quick, wake up and patronize
Your countryman, TOM BARRY.
Den Stone tells a yarn of the early days, along among the back numbers. Rockwell’s Native American Circus and Menagerie went South from New York and in the course of its trip made Charleston. In the “city-by-the-sea” lived a livery stable keeper who had in his day and generation been a lecturer on the wild beasts in the menagerie. Many time and oft’ had he related his oratorical triumphs of the past to his newer neighbors. Upon the coming of the show, they all, with one accord, implored him to favor them with a sample of his eloquence. The Rockwell agents-in-advance favored the airing of the resident’s volumteer eloquence and zoological information and the proprietor was nothing loath. Of course the showman made known all the particulars in the local press and the Charlestonians turned out in goodly numbers to greet the show and give ear to their townsman.
The livery stable keeper and ex-animal lecturer acquitted himself with honors and got away with the peculiarities of the beasts in good order until he arrived in front of a large specimen of the tapir, an animal which he had never before seen. He got as far as, “This animal, ladies and gentlemen,” then he stopped and said, “Hem-m-m!” He cleared his throat and remarked, “Haw!” After an awkward pause, he commenced again, pitching his voice in a very high key, “This animal, ladies and gentlemen, is a hog and it is probably the Gdddst hog you ever saw!”
When Hyatt Frost, who was with the VanAmburgh & Co. Floating Palace Menagerie on the Mississippi River so long ago that it would make you tired to think of it, there was in the collection of animals a number of young panthers that were very playful and very pretty. Capt. Schote had learned them a very clever hat trick. It was a good thing for those who had hats to sell and a demand for head covering was created whenever the show exhibited. The Captain would show the gawks how the panther could be made to jump and play by moving a hat in front of the bars. The lookers-on tried it with an unvarying result. The panther never failed getting the hat and demolishing it to the immense delight of the wicked Captain and the showman. The waggish Captain kept up this practice until the show ran aground and remained there stuck fast on a sand bar in the Ohio River three months.
Hyatt Frost, still at the head of the VanAmburgh show, has a superstition about sevens. He made arrangements to run away from home in ‘37 and was well warmed for his first endeavor to embark in the show business. In ‘67 he went broke by destruction of the show in winter quarters. He thinks twenty-five is a pretty lucky number, so he is going to show for a quarter of a dollar.
Old Sport Clifford was too fluent for the Barnum show. (26) You might as well try to stop Clifford’s blab as the flow of the Niagara. Bailey invited Sport to accept two weeks’ notice and told him in a brief note that the two weeks’ salary was waiting him if he would only accept it and quit at once. The proposition delighted the leaper from Binghamton and he reported to the St. Charles Hotel to relate his good fortune.
“Why don’t you go out with Maybe?” asked Col. Charles Seeley.
“Who’s Maybe?” inquired Sport.
“Maybe!” exclaimed Seeley, “Haven’t you heard of him? Lots of the boys will go out with him this season.”
Sport has been looking for Maybe ever since. Maybe he will find him. Maybe not.
One summer Sport was out of a sit, when the Forepaugh show struck Cincinnati. To obtain a penny, he opened a beer joint in proximity to the canvas and dispensed lager to the thirsty. Trade was not rushing and one of his comrades of his other days remarked [as much] to the proprietor of the “beererey.”
“I’ve got one advantage,” responded Sport. “If I don’t sell much beer, I get what I drink myself at wholesale.”
It was a great saving.
I will wind up with a short sermon to the circus billposter. My friend, you have hired out to perform a very important duty and will receive very fair salary for the same. You will often be sent to bill country routes. Presumably, you know the importance of billing the country. With a circus, that is what tells. Let the town be filled on show day with the country people and it can well be left to take care of itself. The manager and the agents will see all that is done in the towns. You are trusted with the country, work that is the manager’s main hold. You are expected to put up all the paper you can on your route and make a truthful report of the same. I have known men to ride out to the edge of the town, burn their paper, and sleep away the day in the shade instead of faithfully putting up their bills. Don’t do that. Then be honest about your tickets. Put them where they belong. Don’t barter “comps” for “budge.” Don’t cover a rival’s paper. There is nothing in it. It only creates retaliation and both managers suffer in the end. Don’t be afraid to wear a clean shirt. I have seen billposters who were. Blacking will improve the appearance of you shoes. Don’t go in a hotel dining room without a collar. If you must chew tobacco, don’t do it about the tavern. The less rum you drink, the more money you will have next winter. I know this to be a fact. Don’t see any of the company’s property go to waste, not even a program. Avoid slang and profanity everywhere. Don’t talk loud. Don’t be fresh. If you are “strictly business,” you will be “all right in the fall.”
You will never know, reader, what comfort is until you travel ahead of a circus. Now when a circus agent has worked hard all day, he likes to get a good night’s rest.... I ran into a town the other night so close to New York that you could smell the great city. I was tired enough to lie down. The landlord’s name was Doll and a healthy doll was he, a clever Dutchman about five-feet-eight standing up.
The hose company was going to give a ball. Some of the boys in the barroom were brawling for beer already. At nine o’clock the festivities began. The fiddlers agitated the cat gut. The firemen and the girls began their grand promenade. And I went off to bed. So did Jimmerson. The fiddlers sawed and the boys and girls danced. At first the music rather pleased me; then I got tired of it and wished they were all in Harlem - both revelers and dancers. I dropped off to sleep, to dream. I dreamt that the Journal circulated one million copies a week and was printed on satin; turned over, and woke up as the dancers made the building shake. During the intermission for beer, I again departed to the land of Nod; dreamt I saw P. T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh locked in each others’ arms and exchanging the kiss of brotherly love. That made me so tired that I slept for some time. When I was awakened next, it was by a butcher-fire-boy striking the floor and turning around in the dizzy waltz with a good girl weighing two hundred pounds. Too tired to keep awake, I was again carried to the realms of slumber. Then I awoke. Then I slept. Again I awoke. And then swore, mildly. The boys and the girls were having a good time and I was having a Bob Ingersoll time. Along toward morning the program was varied. A fire was started in an adjacent building. That was done to put out the firemen who were balling. The firemen who put out, went out and put out the fire. Then they returned to Doll’s hotel, balled at the bar, resumed the ball and shook the light fantastic until it was time to read the morning papers. I felt as if I had had the gloves on with Sullivan when I arose. That’s how one Day, a circus agent, put in one night.
Jimmerson jumped ahead of the red car the other night to tell a landlord that we were coming, and to prepare breakfast for thirteen men with appetites; also to tell the livery man that some of our numbers wanted to take a sunrise ride into the country. When Jimmerson spoke about the hour for breakfast, Boniface said he couldn’t get it ready so early, adding, “I don’t keep a hotel for working men.”
The “main guy of the pecking castle” looked as if he had worked on the railroad not so long ago. Come to size up this hotel and guests during the next day, we found that he had just two guests beside ourselves. One hadn’t planted his potatoes yet on account of the late spring and the other juggles freight on a Hudson River dock when the steamers are running. How some folks put on airs.
The circus billposters are a fly lot. We stopped at the Nelson House, Poughkeepsie, over Sunday and Bain knows how to keep a hotel. I wished Yank Adams was there. From soup to ice cream, it pleased the boys. The colored gentlemen were particularly attentive to them. One of the waiters in taking Skip’s order suggested, “Roast duck.”
“Naw,” answered Skip, “I been eatin’ duck all winter.”
Skip would have eaten cold beef, rather than to have had that waiter think for a moment that he had not lived off the fat of the land all winter.
Jimmerson says that the way to recollect anything is by association. At Peekskill, he sent Skip up to the livery stable on an errand.
“What’s the name?” asked Skip.
“DeKay & Anderson, “ replied Jimmer.
“I’ll forget that before I am half-way there,” replied Skip.
“No you won’t,” replied Jim. “Associate decay with DeKay and you’ll not forget it.”
Away went Skip. As he went up the hill he began to associate things, carrying out J.’s theory.
Then he thought of “rot,” and by the time he got to the stable he was all mixed up. Walking into the livery office he asked, “Mr. Decay, is Mr. Rot in?”
Hyatt Frost relates that in ‘53 the Raymond & VanAmburgh show leased two giraffes of P. T. Barnum, paying him twenty percent of the gross receipts of the attraction. I recollect the show myself without straining my memory. They traveled Down East and I guess the giraffes were about the first of that kind of animal in that section, outside of picture books and circus posters. The giraffe-Raymond-VanAmburgh show with Hyatt Frost ran against Spalding & Rogers‘ railroad circus (Mr. John B. Doris’ attention is called to this paragraph.); and Van Orden, who was a writer from Writersville, made it unpleasant for the giraffe show. S. & R. knocked the spots out of the giraffes.
The receipts fell off and Mr. Phineas Taylor Barnum’s agent, who collected the twenty percent, thought the ticket boxes did not turn up enough, so he had printed a muslin sign which read: POSITIVELY NO MONEY TAKEN AT THE DOOR! This rag was displayed conspicuously at the main entrance, directly over the head of the ticket-taker, who happened to be Woods, of Vermont, who is now a trusted employee of the Estey Morgan Co. Woods thought it did not tell the whole story, so he added: AND D-----D LITTLE AT THE WAGON.
That is one of Hyatt Frost’s stories and he is fuller of them than a sailor’s boarding house is of bed bugs [or] a wharf-dock of rats. The New England route awakens many pleasant memories, as well as some sad ones.
L. B. Lent is enjoying retirement but has not lost interest in circus affairs. He resides in New York. George F. Bailey has all the money anyone but Jimmy Cooper needs. G. F. B. and George Francis Train both tie up with the Ashland House. (27) John Nathans has got everything, except health. Lew June is at his ease at Ridgefield, Ct. Ben Maginley is “acting out.” John H. Murray and Avery Smith are dead. Chester Clarence Moore, who used to write for Lent and Murray, crossed the ferry a long time ago. Mike Coyle, one of the whitest Irishmen that ever lived, is with Forepaugh. Claude DeHaven is editing a newspaper in Providence. Charles Gayler is writing plays, which he does not read to Shook, and telling funny stories to “Shed” and Sam Booth. Uncle John Tryon is over there. S. O. Wheeler still lives, with less diamonds. Hitchcock “went out” some time ago. (28) Gus Hatch is keeping tavern in Kansas. Joe Cushing made his last stand and closed. Kelley, once the millionaire manager (and first-class manager, too), is in retirement. Fred Couldock has no need to work. Fred Keeler is posting bills and minding other peoples’ business at Albany, N.Y. Charlie Haskins is billposting at Providence. Bill Metchear left us to “pave the way.”
How the paste brigade would kick if Kidder put them up in a beanery such as one that the Forepaugh show stopped at in Stamford, Ct., in 1879. They fed in a bakery on bean sandwiches. Fact!
A newspaper friend remarked to me at Peekskill, “Have you got a William O’Dell, circus rider, with your company?”
I answered, “Yes.”
“Well,” he answered, “he’s Tom Hadley, that’s his name. He used to polish stoves here. I thought he never would amount to much.”
“So,” I returned, “because he became a circus rider, William O’Dell, at one hundred dollars a week, has not amounted to much; but if he had remained at Peekskill polishing stoves at one dollar a day as Tom Hadley, he would have been all right. Can’t see it.”
I don’t care about polishing stoves any more than Tom Hadley did and he made “a move in the right direction” when he became a circus rider. Sometimes we miss our callings. Some lawyers ought to be sawing wood, some preachers breaking stone, and some politicians doing time. John O’Brien was truly fulfilling his mission when he was peddling porgies. The circus business would have been the better if he had never been in it.
Now there’s my friend Corbett, our worthy editor, if he had remained at Providence, R.I., he might have been taken with the cholera or the collywobbles and carried off with too much clam chowder. Now he is doing good and making money polishing the Journal. FOR SALE AT ALL NEWSSTANDS. TEN CENTS.
Fortune has also favored Yank Adams; he has never lost his appetite. Does me good to see my partner eat. The bull in the china shop cannot compare with Yank in the dining room. Now just imagine Mr. Adams, with that appetite, polishing stoves up at Peekskill at a dollar a day. It would be dreadful. He’d have to eat pig-iron to fill up.
I had occasion today to fire a man for selling complimentary tickets. It would be well if managers had photographs of all billposters and lithographers and when a man was detected in the destruction of paper or the sale of complimentary tickets, his mug could be furnished to [other managers]. As Mr. Dana of the Sun would say, “Turn the rascals out!.” The man who will buy a complimentary ticket is worse than the seller. I would not care to leave a horse tied at his hitching post. He is a “fence.” A fence is a receiver of stolen property and “the receiver is as bad as the thief,” only more so.
There is a good deal of fun with the circus. Circus folks enjoy hunting for the “sleeper” when it is a mile up the railroad track, hid behind numerous freight cars and your life is in danger every minute you are playing “needle in the haystack.” It’s fun going to the lot after dinner on a hot day, with the dust as deep as last winter’s snow. When the managers arrange to bring the lots down to the hotels, it will be different. It is funny when it rains and you don’t know whether “the bottom has fallen out” from the mud or you will have to swim for the water. Then it’s funny to hear the kickers kick. Some of them can kick over the top of the center pole and not half try. How pleasant the kicker makes it for the manager and the “layer out.” Poor devil, I pity the L. O. Ben Lusbie was a daisy; he could “lay out” a kicker in a sulfurous manner. “Top doors!” “Close up!”
Sandy Spencer is dead. Some of the newspapers spoke pretty harshly of Sandy but he was a good-hearted, charitable man, yet as rough as a bear. I could spin yarns enough about Sandy to fill an entire issue of the Journal set in agate. Sandy had a pretty rocky experience during his final managerial career at the Globe Theatre. One of the last attractions that he put in the old church was a circus, in which Jim Nixon was interested. George J. Guilford wrote the bills. Judge Hilton and A. T. Stewart, the rent collectors, were in a great state of excitement because Sandy put in the sawdust and the horses; but Sandy was stubborn and in they went in spite of all threats, protestings and arguments. The circus did not pan out well and an inquisitive reporter of the New York Sun asked the lessee, “What was your share, Mr. Spencer?”
“Two barrels of horse manure,” was the frank response of Sandy.
At Hartford on my return trip, I met Charlie Stow at Calhoun’s printing office and, as we did not put on the gloves, we spun a few yarns for Higgs. Charlie told one on Gaylord, our deaf friend who is in Frisco with a trained animal show. I believe it occurred while Gaylord was with Cole and took place in a go-as-you-please mining town in Colorado. Gaylord, Hayden (now with Keene, the tragedian), and a number of the advance agents fell to playing pool and, as they were all well healed, for the edification of the gawks they pretended to play for money. It was all make-believe but it was carried out as if in dead earnest, the greenbacks passing to and fro in bundles and the sums bet made the jays’ eyes hang out on their cheeks. After a while, having tired of the sport, Gaylord stepped up to the captain’s office to settle.
“Five games,” said Gaylord.
“Five games and the house’s percentage on winnings. One hundred and thirty-five dollars.” Gaylord looked. “Rules of the house,” said the room keeper.
Gaylord planted the money like a man, one hundred and thirty-five dollars, and has not played any make-believe billiards for money since.
Ben Snow, one of the old time Snow Brothers, of the Stone & Murray show and for a long time with Coup during the run of the Equescurriculum and William C.’s later ventures, has trained ten enormous St. Bernard dogs to give a delightful performance. Ben favored Stow and myself with a private seance. It is a dog gone good show and Mr. Snow must have incurred a good deal of labor in their education. Ben says that they are not like most actors; they never kick but they growl once in a while.
The names of Fred Lawrence and George Fox Bailey came up the other day in conversation and, of course, out came a new story about Fred and Fox which must be repeated. Fred was press agent with the Barnum show and his earliest morning duty at every stand was to pay the newspaper bills, bestow the deadhead paper, and gather up the cuts. For this purpose, Frederick of London chartered a jehu and a chariot. To this expense, George of Danbury objected. Frederick argued the point and dwelt on the weight of the coin, the weight of the cuts and the bulk of the comps to be toted. Then Fred went and chartered an express wagon, a rickety, worn-out old vehicle drawn by a plug that would have made Bergh shed tears. The harness was a combination of leather and rope, principally rope, and the driver was in as poor a plight as his steed. Bailey saw the turn out. After that, Fred rode in a carriage in his morning rounds and Bailey said not nay.
Funny thing occurred when the VanAmburgh-Reich-Frost-show was at New Brighton. Colvin had a racket of running out the big Zulu and letting him cavort on the lot in front of the sideshow painting. Whenever the barbarian appears in this way (in native costume and bearing his javelin), all hands cry aloud, “The Zulu’s escaped!” And yell at the top of their voices.
At New Brighton, the giant’s sudden appearance created an immense sensation and the crowd ran helter-skelter, while the showmen yelled, “Run for your lives.”
A policeman in full uniform started first. The Zulu selected the policeman for his victim and brandished the javelin and gave vent to his native war cry. The policeman made excellent time, with the Zulu in hot pursuit. The show folks roared with laughter and then the townspeople, seeing the point, screamed with delight. If the Zulu had been mounted on Maude S., he might have caught that copper.
Talking about sideshows, let us turn back to the early reign of Hyatt Frost and see how they used to do it “in our grandfathers’ days.” In 1849, Hyatt Frost and Charles Townsend, the famous elephant keeper, ran a six-and-a-quarter- cent side with Raymond & VanAmburgh. They traveled with a one-horse wagon and the show consisted of a seven-banded armadillo, one big snake, and four rattle snakes. As the California fever was at its height, the armadillo was known as “the big bug of California.”
In ‘51 and ‘52, Frost ran a concert in an outside tent, a sixty-five foot round-top. In the company were C. L. Wheeler (now president of the oil exchange, Titusville), Ned Davis, John Brown, Morris Edmonds, and E. M. Dickinson and wife. Ned Davis was long a popular minstrel. Afterwards he became agent for Tom Thumb under Sylvester Bleecker‘s management and toured the world. Bleecker long managed Wood’s Minstrels and was the author of many minstrel sketches. Frost paid him half the profits for the night to run this trick. The tariff was twelve and a half cents.
Frost at one time ran the bar and candy stands on the Floating Palace on the Mississippi, for which he “turned up” one hundred dollars weekly to the management. Frost says that one of the luckiest hits he ever made in the privilege business was in the purchase of two boatloads of conch shells at New Orleans at three cents each. He took them up into Tennessee and sold them for dinner horns at half a dollar apiece. I asked Frost the other day to give me a “back number” in the privilege business. He thought for a moment and answered, “In ‘47, Hank Holloway paid $600 for the candy stands with one of the VanAmburgh shows.”
Some years ago a Clipperite wanted some items. George J. Guilford favored him with some. This one created a sensation: “John O’Brien has not yet disposed of the clothesline privileges.” The bit of news escaped the argus eye of Frank Queen and created a good deal of fun among the habitués of Room No. 1 at the old St. Charles.
With the decline of the “all tent” show, we can look for the return of the circus with a clown. And, by the way, do you recollect David Seal? Wasn’t he a slick one. Just the beau ideal of the “King’s Jester.” Charlie McCarthy says he saw him in England and he is as fine as silk.
The elephant market is overstocked. The Barnum party have no less than fourteen on the shelf at Bridgeport.
George Loyal and his wife Zuila have gone to Europe and will probably appear at the Hippodrome in Paris. Loyal is both a producer and a hustler and his wife is one of the smartest and bravest little women who ever put on tights or attempted feats of skill and daring. Their engagements with Forepaugh were very successful and they filled several winters to advantage in Cuba and Mexico. The Loyals have traveled almost all over the world and speak numerous languages. They have seen life in all kinds of climates and braved epidemics and revolutions in the outlandish parts of the earth. They have acted at the theatre in times of yellow fever, cholera, and plagues; undertook long and perilous voyages; experimented in the performance of difficult and dangerous feats; and succeed where others have failed. George Loyal was one of the few to make any money out of the cannon act. As the “human cannonball,” he was a success. Farini tried to monopolize the act but his bluffs did not go and Loyal did the act “in spite of his teeth.”
Got some printing of John Stetson’s “Boston Job Print” and that reminded me it is not so many years ago that Stetson was a professional runner and a champion “ped” with a first-class record. In those days he used to run foot races in circus rings as an extra attraction. John Stetson is a man who can keep a good many irons hot at the same time. He piled up a fortune out of the Police News. He was long the successful manager of the Howard Athenaeum and put upon its stage some of the greatest combinations of talent ever massed. As for salaries, he was a perfect angel. Stetson is now best known as the proprietor of the Globe Theatre, Boston, and the Fifth Avenue, New York. He has also managed Modjeska and Salvini and runs a “Monte Cristo” company on the road.
Charles H. Duprez, who for many years was a prominent minstrel manager, is keeping a hotel at Lowell. Duprez left the road or, perhaps more correctly, the road left him. In many things Duprez reminds me of circus manager John H. Murray. Both were very attentive to business, dignified and straightforward, and both in their respective lines got to running very queer shows. I don’t believe that Duprez ever thought that he at any time in his career gave a tart show. I know that Murray never for a moment suspected that he had a quisby circus. I once asked Oscar Rahn, Duprez’ agent, a graduate from the circus advance, “Does Mr. Duprez really think that he has a good show?”
Rahn answered sadly, “He does.”
It was painfully bad and Duprez, with all his experience and successes, did not know it. He was blind to the imperfections of his own entertainment. I was talking not long ago with a life-long friend and admirer of Duprez. He said, “Duprez wrote me enthusiastically of his show and described it as the best he had ever had and pictured it in glowing colors. Why, it was the worst I ever saw and I don’t think the man ever suspected it.”
Now how would managers so shrewd, so smart, and ex-perienced as John H. Murray and Charles H. Duprez come to think their own bad shows good? Nine hundred and thirty-nine out of a thousand friends asked in regard to the merits of an enterprise will praise it to your face, mislead you, and warp your judgment. Murray played “Dick Turpin” three seasons on the New England circuit. In ‘75 he had proposed to do “Mezeppa” but at the last moment threw it up and adhered to the worn-out program. When I mildly suggested that “Dick Turpin” was worn threadbare, he said, “Why, my friends tell me that it is worth a half dollar to see Black Bess die.”
Black Bess died all the next season to poor business. It’s pretty tough to tell a man his show is rotten but if he asks my opinion he’s going to get it. It’s a good thing for a manager to get about and see other peoples’ shows. I don’t suppose Duprez ever took in Thatcher’s, Primrose & West’s, or Barlow & Wilson’s. He ran in his own groove until it ran out. Duprez keeps a good hotel. Murray is in the good place.
In route West, I stopped overnight in Boston at the old Boston Hotel, kept for so many years by landlord Pray, so well known to all circus folks who traveled the New England circuit. Pray was very popular with the arenic patrons but that is not saying that he kept a good hotel. He ran a good, clean, orderly house, and managed it with the strictest discipline but the bill of fare was none too rich and was methodically cast iron.
In the springtime, you could see in the office about meal hours, or in the evening, L. B. Lent, occupying a double space; George F. Bailey and his cane; Avery Smith, puffing a bad cigar; Col. Joe Cushing, smoking a good one and indulging in an occasional nip in the narrow, contracted, hide-away barroom; Charles W. Fuller, big with whiskers and any amount of self-esteem; Uncle John Tryon, full of good humor and the rheumatism; Mike Coyle, lathy, long and good natured; Claude DeHaven, a Dundreary in dress and poetical; S. O. Wheeler, from way down in Maine; big, handsome John H. Murray and his brother, Jim; John J. Nathans, calculating and business-like; Lew June, looking like a farmer; Chester Clarence Moore, the writer, almost a double for bluff Ben Maginley; Fred Keeler, asking questions; Matt Leland, busy quizzing, dressy and frisky and quite inclined to guy; William C. Coup, with his Indiana dialect; Richard Fitzgerald, the Irish terrier, making more noise than any man in the room; Andy Cullen, weeding Spanish and telling of marvelous adventures in Cuba and Mexico; Fred Couldock, hard-working and “h” dropping; Charlie Haskins, a walking fashion plate, just as he is today and not looking a day younger; and not by any means to be forgotten, Sgt. Curtis Trask, of the Boston police, the circus man’s best friend in Beantown.
Fred Keeler of Albany is well posted in the ancient history of the American arena. Fred says he wants someone to find him a later back number than this one: He says that in 1851 Stone & Madigan traveled in the West and Northwest by rail. Den Stone has often confirmed this statement. W. T. B. Van Orden was the writer of the concern. Fred is a great admirer of the late Dr. Spalding and cherishes his memory. Fred joined Spalding & Rogers as treasurer at $25 a month. The first week he was insulted by a rube, licked him, and was fined $22. In 1850, Spalding & Rogers opened in Boston. Fred says it was a great show with a great outfit, a 110 foot round-top, the largest used at that time, with a 17 foot extension, laced all around, 27 tiers of built seats, admission 25 cents. About ‘56, Spalding & Rogers made an experiment. They constructed crate cars with low, small wheels, such as one sees at the ferries between New York and New Jersey and Philadelphia and Camden, in which baggage is transferred. The show was advertised as the “Crystal Palace Circus, All Iron and Glass.” The truck cars were to be unloaded from flat cars drawn to the lot and loaded after the show. They proved a failure. The wheels were so small and the crates set so low that once stuck in the mud they remained there. Fred says that S. & R. used the first quarter poles he ever saw. Each had a bale ring. At first, four were used; afterwards, eight. Keeler traveled before the days of the dirt-bank ring, when they carried their sectional curb with the baggage. Sometimes it persisted in wobbling or bobbling up and bothered the riders. That was indeed a curb to proud ambition.
I never miss a number of a bright, gossipy paper called The Journalist. I began to read it under the regime of Byrne & Richardson, who are always readable. In a late article about “press agents,” it refers casually to the circus scribe and mentions the two Hamilton’s as if they were the only successful ones and then winds up by referring to the “mere circus agent, who has to work eighteen hours of the day and live very much like a dog and who, on top of it all, receives usually a poor salary.” Now, as it goes in most of the newspaper offices, the New York press believe that all the literary work of the Barnum & London shows was from the pens of Tody and Jack Hamilton. All the country editors thought that Dave Thomas wrote all the bills and advertisements. The truth is, for years they were written by Charles Stow and W. W. Durand and, as each received $6,000 a year, I doubt that either “lived like a dog.”
The success of Jack Hamilton in New York with the Barnum and the London was great. Tody proved equally popular. I don’t want to detract one iota from the reputation of good fellows, deservedly belonging to both the Hamiltons; but the highest salaried men in the circus-writing profession are not the men who make it pleasant for visitors to the show but the men who write up the show and its attractions. All tolled, they are but a handful. They not only can write, but they are showmen. They understand how to write to bring out the people. They scheme, they originate, they boom, they write to draw money. P. T. Barnum himself understands the art. He is a practical writing advertiser. I know an A-one, first-class journalist who tried it last season. Honestly, he did not in all the summer write a line that drew ten cents. Press agents, Mr. Journalist, for the circus or the theatre, are not made, they are born.
It is no secret that last winter James A. Bailey (of Barnum, Bailey & Huchinson) and Stow were out. Fred Lawrence was solicited to write up the season’s bills. He declined. A virtue was made of necessity and they were written by Charles Stow. Why? Because there was no one disengaged considered competent for the task. If the editor of The Journal would go out of New York and see the vast amount of circus literature put in circulation, and its infinite variety, he will come to the conclusion that circus bill writing, together with the illumination thereof, is a specialty that no tyro need try his hand at.
George M. Clark, the Vermont clown, is dead. He was a minstrel manager and ran a grist mill with equal success. He was also a song writer and composer. As a clown he was not possessed of any humor but he sang with sentiment that caught on in the ring and he was a favorite in New England. For many years he traveled with “the Flatfoots.” Being thrifty, he got along in the world. Whitmore & Clark’s Minstrels were for many seasons a Down East success. Mr. Clark successfully conducted a grist mill and by a business transaction one winter appeared in a court of justice as a witness. It is an old story long current in the Green Mountain state but it will bear repeating. The lawyer, as most lawyer’s will, began to belabor Clark on his being a minstrel and circus clown and wanted to know in thundering tones that made the justice’s wig dance on his bald pate, “Are you not ashamed of your disreputable calling?”
“My father was engaged in a worse one,” quietly responded the clown, minstrel and miller.
“What was your father?” screamed the attorney.
“A lawyer,” replied Clark.
The browbeater sat down, the justice laughed his spectacles off, and his wig turned halfway ‘round and back again. The audience yelled and the justice entirely forgot to preserve the dignity of the court. Clark won his case. The lawyer has not heard the last of it to this day. Hiram Atkins published it in the Montpelier Patriot and the story is a Vermont classic and is related at every session of the legislature.
I ran across a small show the other day struggling with fate. There was no management. The show was in eminent danger any day of passing the agent. An attaché told me that they actually ran into one town where no arrangements whatever had been made. The last I heard, the boss agent was three days ahead of the show with a five dollar note. If the show comes to grief, it will probably be claimed that they were on the wrong route or had bad luck. Bad luck is called to account for the asinine stupidity of some people. I always feel sorry for people with such a handled trick. They are bound to be brought up standing when they are stranded and the fabric goes to pieces. The performers are out for the season, lose their salaries, and are liable to find their trunks in hock with the landlord. It is a remarkable fact that several would-be managers take the road every year. Balloon! Oh, everybody. Stick the printer; leave performers, working people, all in a lurch; let the agents and billposters walk home; and the very next season they again take the road and rope in more victims. With gall as their only capital, they assume to manage and drag out a brief and miserable existence. Result: “Same as last season.” Chief mourner: the printer. First assistant mourner: the agents, the performers, the musicians, the working people. Undertaker: the sheriff. Let her R.I.P.
I’m sorry to hear that both Sells Bros. and Forepaugh paid an extravagant license at Minneapolis. It would do no good to state the amount here. It would be a good day’s receipts for a small show. It would have been better to have let Minneapolis go without a circus. Cedar Rapids has an attack of the high license fever. They wanted the earth and two or three comets. Forepaugh arranged to show in a nearby town and they fell to a sum of six times too much. I only hope that he sticks and refuses to show in Cedar Rapids at all. The town is not worth the powder. Forepaugh showed there last year to no great business (a moderate day’s work), paying a $100 fine for parading the burgh and exhibiting without the city limits. Since then they have extended the limits. Merchants and the local authorities of towns and cities will often appropriate large sums to subsidize horse trots, balloon ascensions, displays of fireworks, agricultural exhibitions, and the like, to make business. But when a showman comes along and assumes all risks, some of these same parties will put an obstacle in the way, in the way of a robbing license. Skip the high license towns, Mr. Managers, and let the councils of those burghs encourage the cultivation and growth of grass on the highways.
One season when I was with Forepaugh, a committee of citizens from Three Rivers, Michigan, came on to see the showman to induce him to come to their town. They guaranteed him free license, free lot, free billboards. They were live businessmen, full of snap, life, energy, business. They were “up to snuff.” Forepaugh went. Business was immense, both for the showman and the trades people. Both were more than well paid.
Waterloo, Iowa, is a fine town. Its merchants are “red hot and still a heating.” They have a piece of ground in the heart of the city for public use. They have purchased it and set it aside for that purpose. They seek the showman, they want him, and they must and will have him. And it is a fact that last season they wanted to entertain Forepaugh’s company at a hotel at their own expense. They couldn’t do too much for the show and the showman. Forepaugh took pains to pay off at Waterloo and everybody connected with the show felt like buying of the wide-awake, public spirited, goahead merchants of Waterloo. Keep away from your Minneapolis, Cedar Rapids, and skin towns until they feel better. The railroads, the newspapers, the billposters, the lot owners, hotel keepers, and merchants will remedy the matter in due time if you only give them the go-by.
Levi J. North is in the “cold, cold ground.” In paying his last respects to the memory of Frank Pastor, he hastened his own demise. Mr. North will ever be remembered as the first to ever accomplish a somersault on horseback and one of the most finished equestrians the world ever knew. The old gentleman’s latter days were saddened by bitter poverty. Some years since, I wrote for the New York Clipper an extended account of his most brilliant career at home and abroad. It was with much difficulty and only after the most persistent persuasion that I succeeded in securing from his lips the necessary data. He was morbidly sensitive about his reverses and cited the instance of a representative of the Chicago Daily News, who wheedled him out of an interview on the ground that “Chicago readers would be interested in an old residenter.” The Chicago scribler enlarged in detail on Mr. North’s poverty and he was wroth thereafter. Howard or Fontaine of the Herald afterward tried to get from the veteran’s lips the events of his professional career and, although his warm friend, William J. Florence, interceded, the ex-equestrian’s consent could not be obtained.
Mr. North’s recollections of his apprentice days were vivid and complete and he rattled off anecdotes and facts as fast as I could note them down. Of his extraordinary successes in Europe and on his return to New York, he related in glowing and enthusiastic language; but when it came to his more recent days, his memory faltered and he said, “There is not much worth recollecting.” The dates of some of his most recent ventures and his last appearance in New York I had to obtain from others. I read him the manuscript as I completed it and he seemed well pleased with my treatment of the triumphs of his better days.
Frank Queen had long desired a biography of North and I left the manuscript in the charge of Evans (who was then the manager of the Clipper) in the morning on my way down town to attend a meeting of the “Turn Over Club” at the counting room of Dr. James Reilly. On my return to the hotel about three o’clock, I found a note from Evans, saying that Mr. Queen had accepted the biography and the price was waiting for me at the office. It is needless to say that I immediately chartered a Bleecker Street car and rode to Centre and Leonard Streets, returning by the same route with the cash in my pocket. There’s many a pen driver misses Frank Queen. He was a great friend to writers, paid promptly and liberally, and was both friend and patron. Many a time he has paid me money when I was indebted to him. Alas! Queen, the editor, and North, the rider, are numbered with the dead.
I have just received a letter from George Loyal in London. His wife, Ella Zuila, is appearing at the Crystal Palace there. She performs but once a day and then in the “centre transept” at five-thirty p.m. I think Loyal’s idea was to do a trapeze act when he went abroad. He writes: “I found that the trapeze was played out here, as there are millions here, good and bad, and some very bad.” Zuila’s opening on the 8th of July was well received and complimented by the management. The daring lady exhibits on a wire 300 feet long, stretched 90 feet above her audience, which is out-Blondining Blondin in his own field. The Loyals will take in some of the other European capitols ere their return.
One of the press associations reports the new deal of the Barnum show, hinted at by us in a late issue of the Journal. As stated and probably with official sanction, James A. Bailey retires and henceforth the title of the show will be Barnum, Cole & Hutchinson. (29) The telegram referred to credits Bailey with the possession of two million dollars. There can be no doubt that Bailey is “well fixed,” as the saying goes; but one million dollars, except in a circus bill, is a good deal of money. Of course, the report says that the Cole show will be merged with the present Barnum show and it is quite certain that it will be in the bills.
The Barnum party have long been courting Cole and the present wedding will not surprise some folks so very much. W. W. Cole possesses many of the qualities that made James A. Bailey a success. Mr. Cole is both a router and an advertiser.
What will become of the high-hired men of both shows is now a question that will interest the present incumbents. Some may be chosen and some may be left. Or will the Cole show continue in the field, sailing under another name?
If the Barnum show extends its next season to California, Cole has been there before, knows all about it, and his experience will be invaluable. There is no doubt the Barnum name would draw largely in Australia and Cole knows all about the Antipodes.
Should the printer “carry” lame duck shows? Successful managers who pay the printer promptly argue that the printer should not keep alive the struggler.... Jones has capital and cash, Smith has gall and no cash. His show is mortgaged and he is in debt up to his eyes. But for the printer, Smith would not be on the road to eat up country, stick agents and performers, and finally “climb the golden stairs.” Smith invariably runs a faking show, leaves the country burned up, the people raw, and is a positive injury to the good name of all reputable showmen.
One Western manager has retrenched in his billing expenditures, having hauled off his second car and put a couple of program men ahead in lieu thereof. Perhaps if he’d keep his only advertising car nearer to the show than when he ran two, he may get along quite well, provided he is running in territory free from opposition. It is a fact that in many instances the country patronage does not pay for the double and often treble livery hire in addition to wages of the bill posters and the paper they put up. Country billing pays less every year. The return grows smaller and smaller. Take, for instance, the billing out of Kokomo today: five livery teams, 1st brigade, $20; five billposters, wages and board, $10; 1,200 sheets of paper, programs and couriers, $80; liveries, 2nd brigade, $20; billposters, wages and board, $10; paper, pictorial and small bills, $50; paste for both brigades, $10. In summation, billing country out of Kokomo, $200. The privileges save many a manager from bankruptcy and there is not one of them but would be glad to rid himself of the peddler of the peanut, the server of the lemonade, and the dispenser of the barber-pole candy and the cornucopia. The “annex” and the “grand after concert” are indispensable adjuncts in this country and earn many a penny that helps pay the printer and the lithographer.
Billy Burke broke “Sid,” the clown elephant without the use of a hook, a club, or any manner of cruelty or punishment whatever.
As I sit in the office of the red advertising car and look out of the window at the reddening woods, I am made aware that “the autumn days am here.” (30) The streamer date reads “October.” The time is not far distant when we will turn in the last expense account and begin to pay our own board bill. When the show closes it breaks up many a pleasant association. With the advertising car sidetracked, we are scattered from Kalamazoo to Kalamazac and another season we may meet under other banners. Skip, when he leaves for Michigan, will not ride home in a side-door pullman or a flat car, but first-class all the way without missing a meal. Townsend, the paste-maker and chambermaid, the man-who-shaves-himself, is of an economical turn of mind and with his accumulated capital and talents could put out the three balls of the pawnbroker and the barber’s pole and conduct a brisk trade in Putnam county, this state. Cohen will have a smaller postage stamp bill after the season is over and the postmaster at Albion will have much less to do.
The death of Jumbo is an irreparable loss to the Barnum show. (31) P. T. has received no greater setback since the burning of his two museums. I was amused to hear a gentleman remark at Towanda, N.Y., “Barnum had him killed purposely for an advertisement.” And the New York World remarks in an editorial paragraph, “Sweet are the uses of adversity in advertising.”
It appears that the railroad officials at St. Thomas were at fault in informing Byron Rose, the careful and able manager of transportation, that there was “nothing in the way;” neither did the train make any signal by whistle or bell of its approach and came within an ace of wiping out the entire herd of elephants.
The Barnum show has a racket on the lithograph comps that works to a charm. The certificates when the lithographs are first displayed in the windows do not grant an admission to the show but are exchanged for a ticket that does if the lithographs are kept up until the day of the circus. Manager Hutchinson has the list in hand at the main entrance and the “elected” enter while the “foolish virgins” are referred to the ticket wagon, which is painted red.
Henry Barnum, of the Barnum show, takes the world philosophically. When he was one of the proprietors of the London show, he thought himself worth at least $80,000. Alas! Kelley, his partner, failed and carried his partner down with him. Mr. Barnum has always had both the sympathy and respect of the entire profession.
The Barnum advance for 1886 will be engaged by W. W. Cole, who will manage the route and advertising matters in advance of the big show. Mr. Cole is also particularly happy in combining an entertainment, as his present exhibition gives good evidence. Cole’s own policy always has been an aggressive one and he has made many a magnificent fight in opposition. He is a peculiarly closed-mouth man, not at all given to wind, brag, or bunkum. Heretofore he has declined to permit the publication of his portrait but with the Barnum, under the new regime, we shall, of course, see his phiz as the middleman of the new firm.
I met a manager the other day who complained that he was doing no business. He had a neat little trick but how could he do any business? He promised fifty cages of animals in the menagerie and a “half-mile track” under his canvas. He did not have a dozen cages of animals and as soon as his parade appeared on the street everyone knew that his big promise in the way of animals was false and the sight of his canvas proved that the “half-mile track” must have been left in the last town.
Over-advertising was not the only thing he suffered from. He harbored an army of fakirs who commenced their pilfering early and continued late, ruining the business of the show and driving the country people out of town. This would-be manager says there is no harm in “doing up a countryman.” Indeed, then, it is just as honorable to rob a hen roost or clothesline. A thief is a thief and such a manager should be tied to a whipping post and be given a couple of dozen lashes on the bare back, the medicine to be repeated until a perfect cure is affected. It is strange that such outlaws should be permitted to roam while there is such a quantity of tar and feathers handy in the land and stone piles that need recruits.
In Buffalo I met Mike Coyle, my old side-partner and employer with the Murray show. Mike “put me in the business” and for four years we meandered through New England, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Canada. Mike had acted as treasurer of the show and ‘72 was his first year in advance. He made it a point to leave no complimentary tickets and was continually using mine, until I discovered a way of circumventing him. I had a lot printed, signed “M. Coyle,” and when he asked for tickets he got his own and it was weeks before he discovered the dodge and when he did he laughed heartily thereat. Then, when Mike would make a particularly bad contract, he would say, “Charlie, please give the gentleman a contract and check.” I did, but I signed each check, “M. Coyle, per day” and it was months before he got onto it.
In those days I wintered in New York and Mike and I used to take in all the sights and scenes of the great city by gaslight. We went to bed early (in the morning), usually taking breakfast with the milkmen in a Bleecker Street restaurant. John Murray used to call on us on his way downtown to Booth’s Printing Office and several times he found us “just getting up.” We said so and he believed us, until one morning he “dropped” and remarked dryly, “Go on and undress. I see you are just going to bed.” We’d forgotten to muss the bed.
Did you ever know that Mike was a sailor? Yes, sir, a sailor and a captain at that. I have no doubt that he could have commanded the “Pinafore” and the whole navy. Mike was the captain of a canal boat and a terror of the tow path. If you don’t believe it, sing out “Low bridge!” the first time you see him. You can bet Mike has had many a stormy passage on the “raging” before he dropped anchor in Buffalo or Syracuse. Uncle Charlie Castle was also a canalman before he “joined out” with old Dan Rice.
The paint brigade were readying the papers in the advertising car and one sitting in the office was forced to hear their converse and comments. At last Cochran’s eye ran onto the heading of a patent medicine advertisement and he read and remarked, “‘Distress after eating,’ did any of you fellows ever have it?”
“I have had distress before eating,” spoke up Skip, “because I didn’t know where the grub was coming from.”
Clever souls, the billposters. We were at Weedsport, New York. It was a cold, solemn morning and the boys gathered about the fire under the boiler, by the aid of which Townsend, old, slow-and-easy, makes paste. Several [town] boys boarded the car out of curiosity and drew near the fire. The smallest of the lot was barefooted and his feet were blue from the cold. The boys questioned the little fellow and found out that he was an orphan and, as one of the larger boys of the town exclaimed, “The poor-master pays his board.”
Then up spoke “scar-faced Charlie,” with the beak so red, and said, “Say, boys, let’s chip in and get the little fellow some shoes and stockings. I’ll give a quarter.”
“And so I and I and I,” cried all hands.
At noon they formed themselves into a committee of the whole and took the orphan boy to a shoe shop and shod him in good shape. The good-hearted charity caught the storekeeper, too, and he opened his heart and said, “Boys, you’ll have to count me in on that.”
So he reduced the price on a good quality of shoes and became a contributor to the fund. It was a free-will offering on the part of the boys but it was the biggest advertisement the VanAmburgh show had at Weedsport.
At Kingston I attended Pat Rooney‘s show upon the invitation of manager Fred Wilson. Hi Tom Ward, who was once a circus leaper, is doing a McNish-like act called “Fun In The Kitchen.” Tom Ward was an apprentice of Wally Ward, who once on a time ran a variety theatre in Newark; before that a hotel and afterwards ran the privileges of the Murray show. Ward in those days was a slob of a boy, did a song and dance or a clog in the concert and leaped and tumbled in the circus. Tom was a cyclone of wind and the top of the canvas used to flap when he talked. He blew a perfect gale with his mouth.
Bob Stickney was a great leaper in those days. There’s no disputing that. And he had some sort of a challenge in the Clipper, daring all creation to contest on the battoute board. The gang in Murray’s dressing room got up a counter-challenge in Ward’s behalf and inserted it in the Clipper. It began, “I, Tom Ward,” and went on to throw down the gauntlet to all creation. So Tom Ward became “I, Tom Ward,” until the English performers corrupted it into “Hi Tom Ward;” and now it’s Hi Tom Ward with the Rooney show on the lithographs, big bills, little bills, and programs.
According to the “new dispensation,” I’m informed P. T. Barnum will own one-half of the “Greatest Show on Earth,” W. W. Cole one-quarter, James L. Hutchinson and James E. Cooper each one-eighth. Ever since Cooper was crowded out at the London-Barnum wedding, he has sighed for a piece of the Barnum show and now he has got it. Cooper’s admission to the firm makes one change. James E. will himself attend to the “doing up” of the show in winter quarters and Frank Hyatt will have a lay-off at Connersville, Ind., until the robins come again. Cooper is a good deal of a horseman and a very close figurer. In fact, in a deal he can skin a flint; and his partners may rest assured that the “litter” on the lot will always find the highest market price.
Poor Charlie Noyes has gone over to the other shore. (32) He had been to the height of prosperity and in the depths of dispair. Mr. Noyes had many good qualities and was a well-meaning but unfortunate man. It is well enough for those who never met with reverses to carp but a dose of his experience will take the starch out of any man. Besides financial difficulties, Charlie Noyes had another sorrow that bore him down. It’s all over now!
William E. Burke of Ohio is about to blossom forth as a stage clown under the management of Allen Sells (son of E. Sells) and Harry Amlar, himself an actor as well as for many seasons manager of the candy stands of the big Sells’ show. Burke wanted R. B. Hayes to join as Pantaloon but Mrs. H. wouldn’t let him. Besides, he couldn’t leave his chickens. They would be lonesome.
A characteristic story is told of Jimmy Cooper of the Barnum show. He discovered that the roof of the winter quarters at Bridgeport leaked a bit. And off he rushed to Barnum.
“Mr. Barnum,” said Cooper, “the roof of the building leaks in several places. I wish you would get it fixed at once.”
Barnum looked at the new partner a moment and then answered, “Mr. Cooper, my managers attend to such small matters. I never bother about anything except where thousands of dollars are involved.”
In 1876, the “Flatfoots“ were running the Barnum show. My employer was sore on them for billing him everywhere and wanted a pill for their stuffed giraffe. I prepared the following and sent it on its travels around the press:
17. The reference is to Charles H. Adams. See Circus Personnel Reference Roster.
18. This Kendall is not to be confused with Ned Kendall (1808-1861), “The Magic Bugler” and band leader for many circuses.
19. This occurred in 1860 while Kingsley was performing with Cooke’s Circus at Niblo’s Garden, NY. On the question of sex, the Spirit of the Times editorialized, “If the person is a man, the humbug is a very dishonest one; if a woman, for the sake of all parties, the point should be settled.”
20. Day’s memory has failed him. LeClair came to America with Howes & Cushing, 1870, as one of the LeClair Brothers. See Circus Personnel Reference Roster.
21. The Mallory Brothers, G. S. and Marshall, were financial backers of the Madison Square Theatre. G. S. Mallory was a clergyman and editor of The Churchman.
22. Maginley teamed with Barney Carroll in a circus venture, Maginley, Carroll & Co., in 1867-68. Maginley had married Carroll’s daughter, Marie, in 1864.
23. Day may mean Lansing, MI.
24. William Devere was a banjoist and singer in variety halls.
25. Barry made his professional debut with Pablo Franque at Free Trade Hall, Manchester, in a pony race, 1847. He then apprenticed to Ned Briarly to learn clowning. Subsequently, he performed alternately with Bell’s, Pablo’s, Hengler’s, and Newcomb’s circuses. He also had his own show out for a short time in 1865 but inevitably went back with his former managers.
26. Day is referring to Thomas Clifford.
27. Train, a treasurer, was killed in the 1893 Walter L. Main Circus railroad accident at Tyrone, PA.
28. This would be Lyman A. Hitchcock. See Circus Personnel Reference Roster.
29. W. W. Cole closed and sold his circus at auction on the Canal Street lot in New Orleans to become part owner with the Barnum & Bailey show and to look out for James A. Bailey‘s interest. He sold his share of the Barnum & London show to Bailey in October of 1887 and retired. However, in 1898 he purchased a quarter interest in the Forepaugh-Sells Bros.‘ Circus and the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and acted as governing head of these organizations while the Barnum & Bailey Circus was touring Great Britain and the Continent. With Bailey’s death, the governing board of B. & B. elected Cole managing director for one year. At its expiration, Cole permanently retired.
30. The car in which Day traveled had a stateroom on one end which also served as an office. Behind this was a section where advertising paper was stored and prepared for posting. Bunks were arranged in that part of the car at night. The space could accommodate as many as thirteen men.
31. Jumbo‘s death is well recorded. The tragedy occurred in 1885 at St. Thomas, Canada, where the Barnum & Bailey show had performed. Byron V. Rose, master of transportation, had been given assurance by the Grand Trunk Railway that the tracks would be clear for loading the circus. Relying on this, Jumbo and a dwarf elephant were walked down the tracks in the direction of their rail cars. However, suddenly out of the night’s blackness the blinding lights of a locomotive signaled the sudden and unexpected approach of a freight train. A collision was unavoidable. The dwarf elephant was thrown down an embankment and sustained a broken leg. Jumbo took the full impact, derailing the locomotive and rail cars.
32. Noyes died October 20, 1885.
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Last modified December 2005.