Parade & Side Show Tickets, Menagerie Program, Staff & Performers Day-by-Day Details
Ringling Brothers History
From: Beneath White Tents. Offical Route Book of Ringling Bros. World’s Greatest Railroad Shows, Season of 1894, Buffalo, NY: Courier Co., 1894. Compiled by S. Alexander. Lists of staff in all departments, performers, program, and detailed day-by-day route. Permission to place the information from this route book on the Circus Historical Society website has been provided by Feld Entertainment, Inc., Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Circus World Museum's Parkinson Library provided the photocopy of this route book. All information should be checked with additional sources. There will be spelling and typographical errors.
To the army of people who constituted the great family that lived for seven merry months under the white tents of the Ringling Brothers’ World’s Greatest Shows, this volume is respectfully dedicated, with the hope that it may, in a measure, fulfill the sentiments of the poet, who said:
“There are moments in life that are never forgot,
Which brighten and brighten, as time steals away;
They give a new charm to the happiest lot,
And they shine on the gloom of the loneliest day.”
It has in late years become a custom with every show of importance to have published at the end of each tour an account of the happenings and leading events of the season. The great number of people employed by a modern circus might well be compared to a good-sized village. It is not unnatural that the people of an aggregation comprising in the neighborhood of a thousand souls, all practically living under the same roof, with common interests, and, at least temporarily, common ends, living together for seven months almost as one great family, experiencing mutually pleasures and hardships, all deriving the means of a livelihood and profit from the same source, forming friendships and witnessing the same daily sights, should desire a memento of their experiences. To those uninitiated in the mysteries of the “white tents,” such a volume would be regarded as a book of travels, but to the profession it is known as a “Route Book,” under which modest title this little volume presents itself to the reader.
Usually, the author of such a publication does not essay to deviate materially from the routine characteristic of such a chronicle. In this instance, however, I have included, in addition to such matter as has heretofore appeared in books of this class, such general information concerning the wintering, handling and general composition of a big show, which it seems will be found of interest to the reading public. The work is profusely illustrated by a series of pictures apropos to the subject matter. Many, in fact the majority of these pictures, are actual photographs taken from life by that well-known artist and photographer, Mr. F. K. Hart, of Watertown, N. Y., who accompanied the show with his photographic apparatus for several weeks. As the work is throughout of a purely Ringling nature, so to speak, I have undertaken to give a brief sketch of the Ringling Brothers’ professional career.
There have been added to the illustrations and other matter portraits of the leading agents, heads of departments, performers, musicians, etc., and it is hoped that this feature of the book may be the means of recalling many pleasant and happy personal recollections of the season of 1894, and may form a portrait gallery of interest and pleasure.
The work is presented more pretentious in size, binding, paper and general make-up than any of its kind heretofore published, and in this it is in keeping with the standing and magnitude of the big show.
It would be impossible to conclude this preface without a few words of appreciation for assistance rendered in its compilation by Messrs. Barry Gray, Clate Alexander, Oscar Puckett and others, for a number of illustrations by Mr. Chas. W. Fish, and for the several contributions of that famous writer, Mr. M. J. O’Neill. - Alf T. Ringling
With many a grin he “sprung” his jokes
On Bill and Bob and Jasper,
Then tried a few that he thought new,
To court the tent men’s laughter,
“The Village Clown!”
With a scornful smile and haughty frown
A sledge-hand viewed the village clown,
And seeing he wished to make a hit,
With these words paid him for his wit:
A son from Ireland’s Emerald Isle
Next came, the time beguiling;
Below his chin, from ear to ear,
A fringe that set the gang all smiling -
Next came a quaint old man, with beard
Not Van Dyke or Imperial,
But one of those a zephyr blows
In realms of soft ethereal -
And then the happy winds did ply
Upon the hirsute of a jay;
It flowed from neck and face and chin -
A canvasman said with a grin:
The dinner bell gave forth its peal,
And on soft planks reclining
Were “Frenchy,” “Curly,” “Dutch” and “Bill,”
O leg of mutton dining.
There was “Hungry Pete” and “Never-sweat,”
And “Slippery Slim” and “Shorty,”
And “Baraboo” and “Limpy” too,
And the one whose wheel runs “forte,”
Two native-born, of curious bent,
Eschewed to see the dining tent,
But uninviting, angry sneers,
And these words smote their startled ears:
A crowd of six, with sly intent,
And entrance checks for five supplied,
Thus tried to get beneath the tent -
The ticket-taker quickly cried:
“Cop the Ringer!”
Strange though to you it may appear,
A youth and maid, from districts rural,
Sat on a seat in embrace sweet,
With arms describing circles plural -
“Do el’phants eat meat cooked, or raw?
D’ye feed hyenas hay or straw?”
The animal man “Roast quail!” replied,
Then faintly said, in an aside:
With instruments of various kinds,
The band was softly playing,
And homeward flew Bohemian minds,
But “razor-backs” were softly saying:
The actors - ladied and gallants -
All finely fixed and primped and fluted,
And bright arrayed for street parade,
Were with this compliment saluted:
Two managers from out a tent
Came quickly, upon business bent -
“You’re being piped,” and “nix s’raw,”
Was heard from one who quickly saw
“The Main Guys!”
“How long do actors live, as a rule?
How much is limber grease a pound?
And where did you get your throwing mule?”
Are questions asked the whole year round by
At night, conspiring, “Bill” and “Dick,”
And a score of other fellers
From the “forty that jest jines the crick,”
A reg’lar pack of yellers -
Just cut a rope, that held a pole,
And in the side-wall cut a hole;
They’ll never do that trick again -
Hard were the stakes of the canvasmen -
Did you ever stop to think how a large circus is run? Did you ever think of the innumerable details that need the careful management and attention of an incredible number of department chiefs? Did you ever consider the thought, energy, labor and persistent action that is required to bring a great amusement institution like that of the Ringling Brothers to over 175 cities in a season? If you ever have, your cogitations have been akin to an attempt at finding the boundary line of eternity or the last mile-stone of space. You may be “sharper than tacks,” quicker than “greased lightning,” and brighter than the glint of a bright, sun-kissed crystal, smarter than a mustard plaster, and withal you may think thoughts as swift as the lightning express, either in “sacred silence” or under the stimulant of witty companionship, but if you don’t get tangled without the use of “tangle-foot,” and if the gray matter in your cranium don’t do triple somersaults and flip-flaps, and if you don’t end up with a head-stand, send your address and 25 cents in stamps, to cover postage, to the author (coupon department) and receive absolutely free a recipe telling how to make the moustache grow, and fifteen other useful recipes.
A big show is a show all the year round. It does not go into a comatose state in the winter, like the frog, and sleep until the warm breath of spring thaws it out, neither does it, as a rule, fly southward with the migratory birds in the fall to more sunny climes - it goes into plain work-a-day winter-quarters, which means, in the case of the Ringling Brothers, seven large barns, capable of housing 350 horses, great, commodious and heated animal-houses, with massive dens for the menagerie animals, car shops, 4,800 feet of railroad tracks, machinery building and planing mill, practicing-ring building, heated elephant-house, giraffe building, paint shops, wagon shops, training barn, blacksmith shops, wardrobe rooms, large hotel, harness shop, carpenter shop, and storage building for canvas, paraphernalia, etc., hay sheds, chariot and wagon sheds, office rooms, and what not in the way of buildings, in all covering over twelve acres of ground.
After the season is over it usually takes from two to three weeks to get everything back into the different buildings. As soon as the show is safely ensconced within its winter home, preparations for the coming season are begun. In some departments this preparation has begun even before the season is concluded. For instance, the Ringling Brothers’ wagon, blacksmith and carving shops have, during the latter half of the season of 1894, been in busy operation for the building of new chariots and cages for the coming year.
The list of occupations that are necessarily embraced in the winter forces alone makes an astonishing exhibit. There are the painters, who apply the bright colors to the numerous wagons, chariots, etc.; landscape and figure-piece artists, who attend to the decorative work; gilders, who give the massive carvings their gold-burnished surfaces; carvers, who produce in wood the sculptured figures and grotesque effects; wagon wood-workers, who make the vehicles; blacksmiths, who forge the heavy iron parts; saddlers, who manufacture the accoutrements for the mounted horses; harness makers, who make the heavy chariot and other harness; costumers, who design and create the beautiful wardrobes; sign-writers, who lay on in gold the lettering on hundreds of wagons, railroad cars, etc.; car builders and car repairers, who get the rolling stock in condition for the coming season; carpenters, who make seats, poles and other paraphernalia; machinists, who run the lathes and other machinery in the planing mill; the engineer, with his station in the boiler-room; his assistant, the fireman; metal workers, who fashion the solid armors, and so on. Then there are the office forces, bookkeepers, typewriters, stenographers, and writers who originate and design the printed matter that is to advertise the show for the ensuing year.
Still, this does not by any means embrace all of the working forces of the big show in winter-quarters, for there are the superintendents of the different departments, with their forces, looking after the elephants, camels, wild animals, horses, canvases, seats, hotel, etc. There are animal trainers teaching horses, elephants, dogs, pigs, wild beasts new tricks and exercising them in the old ones. Above all the managers are busily calculating on features for the coming season, watching the work in the different departments; in short, directing the organization of the show for the spring-time opening.
This, in brief, is a picture of the circus in winter-quarters, and disproves the old joke about circus men sleeping during the winter to make up for lost sleep in the summer. The fact is they never sleep. They nap occasionally.
Every true artist conceals his art. It is so with the sententious circus manager. The interest his patrons have in the circus is not in the labor it has cost him, but in the amusement, recreation and instruction it can furnish. So the circus manager contents himself with giving to the public an insight of what it is most interested in. namely the show, and wisely refrains from burdening the public with his troubles. As this book circulates principally among the profession, however, it may not be without interest to describe briefly the manner in which the World’s Greatest Show is run. This we do in the next chapter.
Naturally the first thing to be considered in the operation of a show is the advance. This is composed of numerous departments. One of the first and most important of these is the one to which the preparation of the many different kinds of pictured and printed advertisements falls. We will, however, omit this feature of the advance work and take the advance from the time it marks the advent of the show itself.
The first and most important of the advance work - if there can be a most important part to a system of which any part left undone would throw the entire machinery out of gear - is the railroad contracting and routing. While in a general way the plans as to the general routes are matured in winter-quarters, there must be individual judgment and discretion used in the choice of each stand. This often entails a score of considerations, each one of the utmost importance.
The questions that weigh the heaviest in this connection are such as relate to the general prosperity of the towns. If it is an agricultural bailiwick, the products of the surrounding country and other towns must be taken into careful consideration. Last year’s crops and the market for the same must be taken cognizance of as well as the crop prospect. If it is a manufacturing city, the condition of the factories must be observed, and so on. It sometime occurs that in making a line of cities on some certain road some one or more cities in the list will be suffering a depression due to local causes, such as a failure of crops confined to a certain locality, the closing of particular mills or industries, and the routing agent must inform himself thoroughly on the condition of each town and guard against putting the show in a stand where conditions are unfavorable; so that, whether it be manufacturing, agriculture, mining or commerce, the routing agent must keep thoroughly posted on local, as well as general conditions, for although the circus manager has often heard about people selling the cook stove to raise money to buy circus tickets, he knows there must be comparatively better prosperity or else his tents will lack the coveted fullness of good business. But there are other and equally important matters to be considered before railroad contracts are made and orders given to the agents to go ahead and contract and bill a town. There may be no suitable show grounds. It is frequently necessary with a show, the tents of which cover so many acres as those of the Ringling Brothers, to pitch them several miles from the center of a city. In such cases the street car facilities for reaching the grounds must be taken account of. Then, again, the number of circuses of all kinds a town has had within the year must be reckoned on. These are, perhaps, the principal matters that must engage the attention of the routing agent. There are many others for which it would be hard to prescribe rules and that can only be met with careful judgment and experience.
The route must be so laid out that the long runs follow Saturday stands, otherwise the show might often be late in arriving at its exhibition places. For this reason shows usually come into Monday stands late in the afternoon of the preceding Sunday.
One of the things that engage the circus manager’s attention to a surprising extent is the weather. It would hardly seem as though one could form any estimate on the elements, yet it is done. Certain localities are noted for heavy and prolonged rains during certain seasons of the year, others have heavy wind-storms during a particular month. Most of the states on our northern border are too cold to admit of successful business during the month of May or late in the fall, and so the circus manager must try to outwit the weather. To be sure the weather sometimes fools him, but he expects this, and grins and bears it when rain, hail, sleet, snow, cyclones or lightning smite him, but he does not go out looking for them.
The routing is indispensably connected with the railroad contracting. To be properly done this department requires experience, rare good judgment, an acquaintance with railroad officials, and, above all, the ability to close bargains, entailing the expenditure of thousands of dollars, with the transportation managers.
We are now arriving at the point where the regular advance is about to begin its work. We will take it for granted that the routing and railroad contracting have been completed for a number of stands and the contracting agents can begin their work.
Dick Hunter, Contracting Agent
The first agents who make the towns regularly ahead of the show itself are the contractors. They need to make all provisions for the entertainment of the show when it arrives. The exhibition grounds must be contracted for, meat for the cooking department and for the animals must be engaged, the license must be contracted for with the officials, contracts must be made for hay, corn, oats, bran and straw for the horses and for the elephants and other herbivorous animals of the menagerie; arrangements must be made with the waterworks companies for water, ice contracted for, groceries and provisions engaged, eggs, butter and milk, sawdust, shavings, many barrels of gasoline, oil, etc., arranged for, and a world of other supplies contracted for that would make a list too long for enumeration. Besides, arrangements must be made with hotels for accommodating the agents and bill-posters who follow later, and for the performers, musicians, etc., of the show.
For each one of the contracts the agents carry printed forms, and no town or city is left until all of these contracts have been properly filled out by responsible parties in the different lines of business that the various requirements of the show necessarily need to call to their aid. It will thus be seen that the show must spend hundreds of dollars in each city visited, and that the impression which prevails in some localities regarding the amount of money a show carries “out of town ”is in reality absurd. In fact the great bulk of the money is merely turned over a number of times, thus giving an impetus to local trade, and more money is spent in the town than is taken out of the town proper, for usually over one-half of the business a large show does comes from out of town.
It will be readily seen that there are other contracts than those for supplies to be made. Among them are those calling for teams and drivers to carry the billposters through the country to put up on barns, sheds and buildings in the country and in the smaller towns the gaily colored announcements of the show’s coming, and which bill the show within a radius of over fifty miles surrounding the main exhibition stand.
Here the work of the excursion agent, to which more attention will be paid hereafter, also becomes evident.
The chief contracting agent must “lay out” the routes for each one of these teams - no inconsiderable piece of work when it is considered that many of these teams make routes over forty miles in distance. There are from twelve to fifteen routes to be “laid out,” and each one must cover a number of towns and crossroads, besides the entire number must bill the country thoroughly for many miles around the exhibition stand.
There are also bill-board contracts to be made and contracts for eligible positions for placing the hundreds of feet of advertising space these boards embrace.
Then there are the press agents who do the newspaper advertising. These important officials are usually ex-newspapermen whose familiarity with the business enables them to reach the readers of all the principal papers with the announcements of the show’s coming. They are called press agents and make all newspaper contracts. The position of press agent is one requiring rare skill, judgment, discretion and business capacity, as well as an able command of the powers of descriptive writing. The press agents not only contract for space in the papers of the exhibition stands, but also in all papers tributary to the towns the show will visit.
M. J. O’Neill, Press Agent
An immense force of contractors is required, for all of the contracts must be made in one day, except in the larger cities where the show exhibits for a longer period, as the advance must keep moving without loss of time or else the show would be climbing upon its heels. The contracting agents travel on regular passenger trains with transportation, which is usually a part of the railroad contracts. Having seen how the daily march of the contracting forces is kept up, our next step will be to note the work which will now be done by the different advertising cars. All the contracts having been made, they are placed in large envelopes, and, with reports of the work done, are addressed to the different car agents and to the show. All contracts for billing spaces, bill-boards and contracts relating to the advertising are directed to the agent of Car No. 1, who, after billing a town, addresses them to Car No. 2, by whom they are again forwarded to the car following, and so on to the last car. From the last advertising car they are sent to the show.
The work of Car No. 1 is very important, as it completely bills the show in a general way, leaving, however, many necessary details to the cars that follow. Car No. 1 is usually about twenty-four days ahead of the show.
The different advertising cars are looked after by the general advertising agent, and their work directed by him. One of the most important branches of this most important work is to keep the cars supplied with paper. This is received each week in car-load lots by each car. Car No. 1, of the Ringling Bros. World’s Greatest Shows, is 72 feet in length. It is provided with upper berths for twenty-six men, the agent’s office, a paste-room, and a great number of lockers, in which the week’s supply of paper is stored. In the paste-room are a large steam boiler, some thirty large iron paste-cans, barrels of flour, several scores of long-handled paste-brushes, and other tools of the bill-poster’s trade. On an average ten barrels of flour are used daily for making the twenty cans of paste that the bill-posters plaster upon bill-boards and dead walls between each rising and setting of the sun. Each of these paste-cans contains about 300 pounds of paste, making a total of 6,000 pounds of the sticky matter that is used in a day. When the car arrives in a city it is to bill, the landlord of the hotel, the liverymen who furnish the teams, and the people who have contracted to furnish bill-boards, have been notified by telegraph twenty-four hours in advance by the manager of the car, so that everything is prepared for the work to proceed with the least possible delay. The first and easiest part of the entire day’s work is eating breakfast. The entire force of the car is called to the morning meal at five o’clock. Immediately after breakfast all hands return to the car and prepare for the day’s work. By this time the teams that carry the men into the country have arrived, also the teams that are to work in the city. Under the direction of the boss bill-poster, the teams in waiting are loaded with paste, paper and distributing bills, and the different men are assigned to their day’s work. The boss bill-poster gives each man who goes into the country a memorandum, furnished him by the car agent, of the towns on the route he is to make, together with contracts made by the advance agents for billing spaces, and blanks with which to contract for additional places he may discover on his route.
Before sending these men into the country, the manager of the car must have a thorough knowledge of all trains running over the lines and connections over which he is to pass, and must furnish each country-route man with explicit instructions when and where to join the car, providing it has left the point from which they are billing, before his return from billing his route. It is almost invariably necessary for the car to depart prior to the return of these country routes, so the necessity of a systematic method for rejoining the car is obvious.
We will accompany one of these routes. The town the show is to be advertised for we will call by the ideal name Caledonia, and on the bill-poster’s printed instructions are the following : Podunk, Witch Hollow, Plum Hill, Blue Springs, Hoptown, North Bloomfield, South Hopkins, Home. Car leaves for Germania (next stand) 4:30 P. M. Take train No. 6. on C. & D. M. Ry. at 8.30 P. M., and connect with P. & R. Ry. at Blue River Junction for Germania. With these instructions, the contract blanks and contracts made in advance of us, a democrat wagon loaded with paste, a big paste-brush, all kinds of colored lithographs, posters and distributing bills, a team and a driver, we start out. The first town we are to bill is Podunk. It is six miles away, but in the meantime the bill-poster is not idle. He is looking for billing places along the country road, and at every conspicuous barn or shed he dismounts, interviews the farmer, and, if possible, secures the space for billing, quickly daubs paste upon the most desirable side, or perhaps both sides of the building, and presto! in a few moments has covered the dark, weather-beaten boards with bright colors, which tell in all the eloquence of printer’s ink of the coming of the big show. In less time than it takes to tell about it, he vaults up beside the driver and away we go. At every farm-house bills are thrown out. They are thrown against the fence-gate, or tossed over to the bare-footed maids busy with their milking, hurled to a crowd of threshers, thrown into the plowman’s furrow trudging behind his plodding team across the field, and who, on his return to this side, will wonder “who in thunder put the gol-durn things down there.” Between farm-houses, the driver has a chance to ply the bill-poster with questions.
It is the first time this particular driver has ever gone out with a circus bill-poster. He has been ambitious to learn all about the circus ever since the agent made the contract for the teams with the proprietor of his stable, and he had made several efforts to ascertain whether he would be fortunate enough to get to drive one of the routes. He drove up to the bill car this morning with his spanking bays, and a proud feeling internally of an important epoch in his career. The bill-poster has had many such drivers before, and he knows of a heavy paste-can to lift, and of divers things the driver can do for him if he is good-natured and willing, so he answers his questions as interestingly as possible, and thus propitiates him. Well, as I have said, between farms the bill-poster answers the driver’s questions. Here are a few and their answers:
The driver reflectively says: “You must see a heap of the country?”
“Yes, a whole heap,” says the bill-poster.
“A whole h__l of a heap,” with added emphasis, says the driver.
“Like me, like my dog,” is a saying the bill-poster has learned to apply to me and my horses, and as he must flatter the driver through his team in order to induce him to make the route as quickly as possible, he compliments the speed, the color, the gait and the breeding of this particular team, sententiously adding that “getting over the road, and making good time, depends mostly on a good driver,” to all of which the latter, highly flattered, answers, “Git ep!” and slaps them on the back, and away they speed over stock und stein.
“How long have you been posting?” asks the driver, venturing to use the word “posting,” as though it were to him a familiar phrase in circus parlance. “Where did you come from? Where are you going from here? When do you sleep? Ain’t it an awful hard life? Where do you winter? Ain’t that pretty far north? Where do you ride? What do you do when it rains? Did the snake really swallow the Norwegian boy? Do the Ringling Brothers travel with the show themselves? How is the elephant that had his tooth filled?”
To all of these queries the bill-poster replies, gauging his answers to suit the credulous and wondering driver. The next question is:
“ How long have you follered this business?”
“Forty years,” is the answer.
“Whew!” whistles the driver in amazement, “you don’t look older than that.”
“Ah!” answers the bill-poster with proud distinction, “bill-posters, like poets, are born not made, so I commenced very young.”
“How much do you get a week?” asks the driver.
“ Only sixty dollars,” replies the knight of the paste-brush, and this makes a profound impression.
We have arrived at Podunk. The bill-poster surveys the village. There is only a store, a few dwellings and a blacksmith shop. The latter offers inducements to the bill-poster’s art. He jumps off the wagon and in a moment is busily engaged in conversation with the blacksmith.
“ I’d like to post some circus bills on your blacksmith shop,” says the bill-poster.
“Nope, won’t have no more bills posted on there. What circus is it?” interrogates the blacksmith.
“What! Ringling Brothers comin’ to ___?”
“Well, you just go ahead and paste on all the bills you want to. I know them boys. They’re all right.”
In a moment articles of agreement are signed stipulating that “for and in consideration of,” etc., Mr. Blacksmith is to receive tickets for two, “not transferable, good for this day and date only ” and “not good for two children.”
In a few minutes the paste has been liberally daubed upon the entire front of the blacksmith shop. Meantime the blacksmith has not been idle, for he has besieged the bill-poster with a flood of reminiscences of the Ringling Brothers’ early career, all of which, added up and divested of considerable superfluity of speech, is to the effect that once upon a time, about ten years ago, when the Ringling Brothers had a small wagon show and came to the inland town where he lived then, he shod their horses, and they only had about twenty all together and one interfered badly, and he shod him “so he didn’t interfere nor nuthin’ no more,” and at night it rained and was cold, and they had one elephant and they borrowed his shop to put it in, and the elephant eat up all his leather aprons, and the next day after the aprons had been paid for and the show had left he missed a heavy log-chain, and wasn’t the elephant that died some years later with a log-chain in his stomach the same elephant that was “there that time,” and wasn’t it just possible - in fact, could it have been any other log-chain than his log-chain that was found inside the elephant’s stomach? To all of which the bill-poster said he guessed it happened that way. And having by this time completed his task of covering the blacksmith shop, and leaving a package of bills in the shop and leaving a lot more scattered over the counter of the “general store” of the bailiwick, we are soon on our way towards Witch Hollow, which is the next town on our route.
As we get under way again the driver resumes his questions and wants to know when the show will be at Caledonia - this in spite of the fact that every time the bill-poster puts up paper or throws out the programmes and different kinds of distributing matter the announcements of day, date and place of exhibition are printed upon them in big, bold letters. The next opportunity for posting up large bills is offered by a farmer’s barn. The farmer is busy doing chores. He is a red-whiskered, red-headed, red-faced man, and the bill-poster, who has descended from the wagon and approached the lord of the manor, has some difficulty in interesting him in the matter of having bills pasted upon his barn.
“Want to paste bills on my barn, eh ? Well, I don’t know. What’s it worth ?”
“ What’ll you take?” asks the bill-poster.
“ What’ll you give?”
“Three tickets to the circus.”
“ Thunder’n lightnin’! Is it a circus? Whosen? When? Where?” Excitedly, “ Ma, do you want some bills pasted on the barn fur sum tickets to Ringling Brothers Circus?”
The farmer’s wife emerges from the kitchen. Clinging to her apron two little urchins come to see what unusual thing is about to happen, and look upon the bill-poster, with his brush and white-paste suit, as some rara avis. The housewife gives him a withering glance, and turning to her husband says, with ungrammatical emphasis:
“Jeremiah Simson! Jeremiah, I say! If you are going to be durned fool enough to let another circus bill go up agin that barn you ought to be licked. Young man,” this sharply to the bill-poster, “is there salt in your paste? SALT was what that slick dude that put bills up on that barn last year said he had in his paste and he told us it would wash off easy. We never could get it off, and now,” - transferring her wrath from the bill-poster to her husband, - “and now you want to have more bills out here, do you - you! Oh, if I had only married a man of some sense!”
“A house divided against itself must fall,” mentally says the bill-poster, and therefore he wisely waits for the storm to spend itself, and as the excited housewife retreats into the kitchen and slams the door shut in their faces the farmer says, “Th’ old ’oman is a bit riled this morning, but long as we can’t get the old bills off I guess you can just as well put on some new ones,” and on to the barn they go.
We are soon off again and on our way to Witch Hollow, scattering bills right and left at every house, throwing them along the road for farmers to pick up as they pass with their teams, pasting up hundreds of square feet where locations can be found, placing small lithographs and dates where the space is too limited for larger ones, and leaving a path roseate with brightly colored promises of the World’s Greatest Shows.
Arrived at Witch Hollow, we find many opportunities for billing the show. There are contracts here made by the agents ahead of us, some for regular bill-boards and some for “daubs,” which is the technical name for dead walls. Witch Hollow has several hundred inhabitants. Almost all of them come out to see the bills go up, and the operations of the bill-posters are watched with marked interest by old and young.
As we start for Blue Springs, and while driving through the newly - billed town, showing every conceivable kind of beast and bird, the driver innocently asks the bill-poster, “Have you got any animals?”
The drive to Blue Springs is in many respects a repetition of the scenes already enacted. The road takes a direction almost at right angles with the route we have traveled up to this time, while Hoptown, North Bloomfield and South Hopkins take us back towards Caledonia, our starting-point. It is 8:30 P. M. when we return. The driver has handled paste-buckets, carried water to thin the paste with when required, driven his team, become splattered with paste, asked questions, and has made up his mind that it is indeed a “hard life, even if you do see heaps of the country,” while the bill-poster has distributed hundreds of bills, and placed upon dead walls and bill-boards all the way from 300 to 600 sheets of paper, and a sheet of paper is 28 x 42 inches in size, so he has covered from about 2,500 to 7,000 square feet of space with paste and paper. The bill-poster’s last duty for the day is to make out a full report of all the paper he has posted, stating every location, the owner’s name and the number of sheets posted.
Leaving our country bill-poster, together with others who have been on similar trips during the day, to take the train for the next stand, to which the car has gone, we will see what has been done in town in the meantime. When the country routes were being started in the morning, there were also city teams, large dray-wagons, on hand to haul the paper and paste for the city billing. The billing forces have been busy, as can be seen by hundreds upon hundreds of feet of boards, all covered with the advertisements of the show. The lithographers have done their work well, for almost every store window is aglow with the brightly colored lithographs. The programmers have been no less active, for in every house of the city has been placed some form or another of distributive matter. All in all there have been distributed some 25,000 to 30,000 bills, ranging in size from 14x28 inches to 32x44 inches, and if a wall ten feet high and a mile to a mile and a half in length were erected, it would hardly hold the paper that has been pasted on bill-boards and dead walls during the day from Car No. 1.
The car left at 5:30, but before leaving, paste had to be made for to-morrow. This is done under the supervision of the boss bill-poster. While steam is being made in the boiler-room, the large barrel-like cans are filled with flour and water until a milky looking mixture is formed. All of the cans are placed in a row on the ground outside of the car, and when everything is in readiness a steam hose is attached to the boiler and brought through beneath the car and the open end placed into the mixture in the cans. The word is given to turn on the steam and in a moment there is a cracking and sputtering and sizzling that sounds like a Fourth of July celebration confined in a barrel. In a few moments the mixture of flour and water, which first resembled milk in color and consistency, has been converted into a heavy, creamy paste. The steam is turned off, the hose placed into another paste-can, again turned on, and so each can of paste is cooked. To keep the paste from souring a small amount of sulphate of copper is placed in each can before the boiling process is begun. There were other duties to perform before the car could leave for the next stand. Paper has had to be “laid out” for the next day’s work. This the boss bill-poster has been enabled to do by copies of contracts for billing spaces, country routes, etc., furnished him by the car agent.
The car manager has in the meantime sent telegrams to the next town, notifying livery, bill-board, hotel men, etc., and has ordered everything necessary for the next day’s work. The car has been attached to the rear of a passenger train and is speeding on toward Germania. At every town the car passes through bills are thrown out upon the depot platforms. Programmers are stationed at the rear and front platforms of the car and at every place where a wagon road crosses the railroad tracks loose bundles of bills are thrown out. Farmhouses beside the tracks, wagon roads running parallel with the railroad, every sight of human being, or human habitation, or possibility of human presence, past or future, receives a shower of bills.
The work of Car No. 2, which in the billing of the show follows No. 1 about a week later, in many respects resembles that of the first car. There are country routes to be made, and in this respect the work of Car No. 1 is entirely gone over, and the weather-beaten paper, often made ragged or washed away by rain, is recovered with new paper and new locations and billing spaces are secured. Throughout this work of Car No. 2 an entirely different lot of distributing bills are put out, and both the city at which the show is to exhibit and all the surrounding towns and country are gone over after the manner of Car No. 1. In addition to this, all of the cloth advertising is done by this car. This branch of the advertising consists of putting long cloth banners on street cars, omnibuses, drays, ice and water-wagons, and cloth dates and banners on awnings, store fronts, telegraph, telephone and electric light poles, and, in fact, all places where the white cloth advertisements, with their brightly colored announcements, can be tacked, tied, pinned, sewed, pasted, flagged, flown, nailed or attached to anything and everything movable or immovable, capable of receiving the words and syllables telling of the coming of the World’s Greatest Shows.
Car No. 3 is run in the interest of the railroad excursion work. There are no country routes from this car, but instead of these there are what are termed railroad routes. These are made on every line of railroad centering into the city for which the show is being billed. All of the paper used by this car is in the main different from that used on the other cars, and deals exclusively with the excursion rates, time cards and other information concerning the trains that are to carry people to the show. The excursions and rates, time of departure and arrival of the special trains are arranged by the excursion agent, not by the manager of the excursion car, but by an agent whose special work it is to arrange with the railroad officials for the running of special trams, and for the reduced rates. The excursion agent keeps the car manager supplied with lists of excursions and with the different kinds of advertising matter relating to the excursions specifically; but, in addition to this, there are many kinds of bills, both pictorial and others, which are ordered on to his car by the general agent in the same way as for the other cars.
Billing Brigade No. 4 has no particular place on the programme of advertising cars, but is almost entirely employed in opposition work. When there is any opposition, this brigade devotes its time to special efforts in the matter of billing the show, often spending several days in one town, and seeing that no opportunity for convincing the public that the World’s Greatest Show is in fact as well as in name the World’s Greatest, a task that has become quite easy in the past few years, and has now entirely ceased to be a necessity. But the opposition car goes on billing just the same as if it was the show’s first season and it had still its reputation to make.
An important functionary of the advance is the route rider. Supplied with a list of the work done by each car, and with copies of each bill-poster’s report, he rides over some bill poster’s route each day to see if the work has been done exactly as reported. In this way no bill-poster can tell what day his work is liable to be inspected. If everything does not tally precisely with the bill-poster’s route that has been inspected, the facts, with details, are reported by letter to the manager of the car to which the bill-poster belongs. It is only fair to say, however, in justice to the bill-posters of all the different cars, that the interest they have shown in their work for the entire season, and the manner in which they have performed their duties, go to show that the thought of a route rider to follow them had little to do with their motives in doing the excellent billing for which the season has been noted, and that their own pride in their occupation, and the ambition to see the show billed as no other show was ever billed before, has been the propelling motive in all that they have done.
A day ahead of the show is another agent connected with the advance, whose duty it is to inspect all of the windows in which lithographs have been hung by the lithographers of the different cars, with a written report made out by the lithographers, and designating the store or building, its street number and the number of lithographs there placed, and the compensation for the same. This agent makes the rounds of each city and fulfills all contracts made by the lithographers.
Another agent, traveling one day ahead of the show, is known as the “layer-out.” The business of this agent is to see that everything contracted for will be forthcoming on the arrival of the show; that the show grounds are in fit condition for the purposes of the show, or to engage other grounds than those contracted for, in case heavy rains or other causes have made them unfit for occupancy. And this, in brief, is the advance work of the Ringling Brothers’ Circus.
Having noted some of the leading duties of the advance, we will next bring the circus “to town” and spend a day with the show proper and within its environments. The show itself is the really interesting part of an amusement institution, and particularly is this true of the circus.
From the time when the virgin hand of Spring fills the land with the fragrance of the first peeping flowers of the youthful year, and clothes the “gray old earth” in a mantle of green, until these bright harbingers of nature’s happiest time attain the odorous mellow and the red and gold of autumn maturity, an indescribable but inherent trait in the nature of man impels him to quit for a time his usual staid habitation and to seek some “airy, fairy” covering, transitory, fleeting, filling his mind with vague whisperings of the Arabian Nights’ Fairy Tales and shadowing habits that have clung to him since the times of Abraham and Moses.
To the circus with its waving domes belongs the realm of regaling mankind with a rejuvenating sense of the time when the earth was young and man was not so permanently fixed to his surroundings.
The Grecian shepherd, tending his flocks, saw with no more wonder the passing of the Athenian hordes during the time of Pericles than that with which the boy of to-day watches the coming and going of the Ringling Brothers’ Shows, nor is the ardor of paterfamilias materially lessened by time and association, for the brightness of his youthful pleasures, though somewhat dulled by frequent repetition, is again and again brightened by happy recollections of the glittering elf-land into which he was transplanted by the circus of long ago. To be sure he will tell you, on the way to the grounds, that he is just going to take the children, that he has seen circuses so often they fail to amuse him. In fact he will give you to understand that his amusement appetite has been so satiated by all he has seen in his time that the circus has become a bore to him, and that the ennui he suffers while under the tent is the sacrifice of his parental heart. If you have any confidence in his veracity, please do not follow him into the tent, for if you do the ideal you have formed of him in your mind as a deep, intellectual man, only caring for entertainments that partake of the form of long lectures on scientific subjects, abstract speculations in psychology and other subjects for solemn and laborious thought, will be shattered by the undignified laughter he bestows upon the antics of the clowns and the open-mouthed wonder with which he views the performance. And then you will smile at him for his silly attempt to make those about him think that he merely laughs because the children are so much amused. Do not watch him too closely or you will see that, for half hours at a time, he becomes so engrossed in the show that he forgets to look down at the children and point at the clown, but just sits there, unmindful of children and everything else, and laughs - naturally laughs.
But we are getting ahead of our story, and will first have to bring the circus “to town.” We will therefore start from the last stand where the show exhibited, and accompany it to the town we have seen contracted, advertised and prepared for its coming. At twelve o’clock at night the show is loaded on its several trains of long cars, the hundreds of people comprising its population are asleep in the cars,and section after section, at half-hour intervals, pull out of the railroad yards, and speed on toward Caledonia, as we have ideally called the city billed by the advance. We are on the last section. Our train is composed of the elephant cars, camel and led animal cars, the cars loaded with animal cages, and the performers, musicians and managers’ sleeping coaches in the rear. The train is usually known as the cage section, but the working people who ride in sleepers on preceding trains call us the “monkey section” - not directly to our faces, but if you listen sharply on the grounds during the more idle hours of the day you will hear the expression. It is not a misnomer, for are we not composed of a great variety of animals, both human and otherwise? Well, we pass along over bridges, culverts, railroad and wagon-road crossings, over prairies, on hillsides, through tunnels, past towns and hamlets, and all that breaks the stillness of the dead night hours is the occasional shriek of the engine-whistle, the rumble of the train and the working of the air-brakes. Thus we speed on in the darkness. Occasionally, like some grim sentry, we see a silent policeman or night-watch standing on a depot platform as we are gliding by, and rubbing his sleepy eyes to see the passing show train. But as Aurora mounts above the hills which greet us in the east, the scene becomes more animated, and as the light of dawn begins to break upon us, we see little knots of people gathered round the depots to see the show pass. Especially is this the case in the smaller towns, for here people rise early. Occasionally we pass dwellings in which the occupants have hurried out of bed to see the show train. They seem unmindful of the fact that eyes may be looking at them from the coaches, for many appear at windows attired in robes de chambre, and the sun casts his first rays of morning light in through the windows, and they light up their white-gowned figures like mischievous glances from the old fellow’s laughing eyes, and we laugh a little too, and the train passes on, and by six o’clock we are in Caledonia.
We find that the other trains are unloaded of their heavy wagons, chariots, horses and paraphernalia. Our train is soon switched into position, the long gang-planks known as “runs” are placed at the end of the last flat car, and the unloading of the train is begun. Crowded about the scene are hundreds of people, among them the omnipresent small boy and many of his elder relatives, from his big brother up to grandpa. Then there are the early arrivals from the rural districts, who started from their homes before daylight in order to see the “whole thing.” They are dressed in holiday attire. Let us join the throng and watch the unloading of the train. We readily notice that there is the system and preciseness of a military nature, in the way orders are given by the master of transportation to his assistants. The “razor-backs,” as the employees who load and unload the cars are known in the lexicon of circus literature, accomplish their duties quickly, and without undue noise or bluster. The term razor-back is of peculiar origin and significance. When shows first began to travel by rail, the wagon-show cages used with the overland shows were so short that they could be loaded crosswise of the cars. After they were run on the cars, it was necessary to turn them half-way round in order to bring them into the crosswise position. To do this several employees would put their shoulders to the hind wheel of a cage, and thus shove it into position. While this shoving process was going on an overseer would be saying, “Raise her back,” and the men from their position, not being able to see when the cage was at right angles with the car, the overseer would continue to say “ Raise her back,” until in proper position. The words so often repeated and frequently contracted to “raise’er back,” were taken up by other show employees as a name for the trainmen, until they developed into the present word of razor-back. But if we stop to tell stories we will not get the cage-train unloaded in time, so we will begin work at once.
The first thing done is the unloading of the elephants and camels. This is quickly accomplished by the animal men. The long, heavy runway is taken from beneath a car and placed at the bottom of the side of one of the elephant cars. The door is opened and in a few more moments the hobbles have been taken from the feet of the big pachyderms, and one by one they come down the runway. The latter is made safe by having wooden horses placed beneath it. The next elephant car is unloaded of its burden in the same manner and then the car containing the camels, water buffalo, curious cattle and other animals.
While this has been going on, the “razor-backs” have been removing the barbed blocks of wood that fasten the wheels of the cages to the flat cars and have also placed large, flat, iron slabs from car to car, thus making a continuous roadway across the long line of flat cars. A rope is now attached to the rear of the cage next to the end of the train from which the unloading is to be done, the pole is inserted, and, taking hold of it, two men known as “ polers ” guide it down the runway, while a third, with the rope at the rear wound about an iron bar attached to the car, prevents the cage from running down too fast, yet controls the force of its descent in such a way that, as it reaches the ground, there is impetus enough left to carry it out of the way, where harnessed teams in waiting are hitched to it and away it rumbles to the show grounds.
In this manner the entire array of cages is unloaded. All of the heavy baggage wagons, chariots, tableaux and other vehicles that came in on the preceding trains were unloaded in like manner. The horses, which we missed seeing unloaded, are the first to be taken from the trains. Large runs are carried on the tops of the stock cars and the grooms place them in position as soon as the train is “placed,” and in a very short time the horses are led down the runway to terra firma.
The first wagons unloaded from the first train of the show are the wagons of the cooking department. They are also the first to be hitched to and taken to the grounds. They comprise refrigerator, kitchen, canvas and paraphernalia and water wagons, the latter always filled the night before that there shall be no delay in this respect. The cooks and employees of this department accompany the wagons to the grounds, and the superintendent of canvas, having preceded them to the grounds, designates what part of the lot the cooking department is to occupy. In less time than it takes to say “Jack Robinson ” the large iron ranges are placed in position. Simultaneously the cooking tent has been erected above the ranges. The refrigerator and store wagons have been opened, and by the time the fires are started stakes and chops, cut the night before, are ready for the cuisine and in another minute they are broiling, while on other ranges potatoes, eggs, etc., are being cooked. While this has been going on water has been drawn from the tank wagon into the large iron caldrons on the outside, under which camp-fires are blazing and from which the enticing odor of boiling coffee salutes the nostrils.
At the same time the dining-tents have been erected, long tables placed under them, the cloths spread, the dishes placed in position and the waiters have attired themselves in natty white suits ready to serve breakfast, which, in the space of fifty minutes from the time the first cook-house wagon was unloaded, is ready for the hungry employees, the latter appearing as promptly as the breakfast itself.
While the breakfast has been prepared, the boss canvasman and his assistants have been busy “laying out” the lot. With the lot contract in his possession - the back of it showing a diagram of the grounds and their location - the Superintendent of Canvas and his assistants have, with tape lines, measured the distance where each tent is to be erected and placed iron pins where each stake is to be driven. The pole wagons have arrived and the center poles have been unloaded at the places they are to be raised. The stable wagons have also arrived and the cloth stables have been placed by a gang known as the “stablemen.” The heavy duck mangers have been placed inside, and as soon as the horses have cooled off sufficiently, after their work of pulling the heavy wagons, etc., to the grounds, they will be fed.
Breakfast now being ready for the men and the men ready for breakfast, we will leave them to the enjoyment of the morning meal and take a hurried run back to the cars and accompany the performers, musicians and others to the hotels, leaving the managers to breakfast in their private car. Each person stopping at hotels receives every Sunday morning a ticket composed of twenty-one coupons, each coupon dated for one of the twenty-one meals served in a week.
Leaving the people stopping at hotels at breakfast, and hoping they will not have to wait too long to be served, we will return to the show grounds. Here we find breakfast over and everybody busy getting the show into shape; poles are being erected, stakes driven, canvas unloaded and spread out on the ground, animals cared for, horses curried, their tails and manes washed, and, in fact, everywhere hustling, bustling life and activity. Vegetable wagons, grocery wagons, meat wagons, ice wagons, water wagons, provision wagons, milk wagons and wagons of all descriptions and kinds, are delivering their various supplies. We are attracted by the sight of the different sledge gangs. Six men driving one stake at one time make quite a hit with us, also with the stake - in fact, several hits with the latter. Rap, biff, bang, tick, chuck, the sledges play their merry tattoo in rapid succession, and it hardly seems as though one sledge could be withdrawn before another descends upon the head of the defenseless stake. In a short time the tents are being raised and the great sea of canvas is rearing its mighty white surface high into the air. Performers, musicians, side-show people and others are now arriving on the grounds and preparing for their several duties. Everywhere there is an air of life, activity and busy preparation.
The parade adds greatly to a show’s popularity. It arouses the enthusiasm of the populace to a circus-hungry pitch. The show without it would be like a Fourth of July celebration sans fire-crackers or a glass of soda water minus the effervescence. The parade is the life, the sparkle, in fact the cannonading that ushers in circus-day. We find every one preparing for this first great exhibition of the day. Grooms are busy trapping horses, actors are donning their costumes, the elephants are being decorated in colors of gold and red, clowns are preparing their funny wrinkles and attiring themselves in the “motley garb,” for the droll and ludicrous must have its place in the procession as well as the grand, the beautiful and the imposing. There is a trait in human nature that under most circumstances, and always on a holiday of this kind, requires that its sense of humor must be brought to the surface.
“The gray old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has troubles enough of its own.”
So the clowns go out in line to make human beings laugh; to brighten up the faces drawn with the cares of life; to chase away, if even for a moment, the lines that tell of the struggle for bread, the disappointments of ambition, and the thousands of cares that oppress humanity.
The order is now given, and the procession starts to leave the show grounds for its triumphal tour of the city. Thousands have massed themselves along the intended route of the bright cavalcade. Every window, every doorway, every awning, porch and point of vantage is filled with eager, anticipating, excited people. They line the streets because the sidewalks overflow with the turbulent stream of human beings, sometimes hindering the march of the gaily prancing horses. Policemen rush hither and thither, making a passage through the tangle of sight-seers at crossings and other places for the procession.
Before we view the parade we must look at the people. They are among all the sights the most interesting. Where is the artist that could paint such a scene as we have before us? What painter could produce a picture portraying the expressions on the different faces in the crowd, each one telling the story of habit and association as it is impressed according to the light within by the scene without? Let us take a place among the multitude and view the parade.
The first that reaches our senses is the mellifluous tones of the first military band, which heads the procession. They have not yet turned the corner that conceals them from our sight, but as the glad sounds of the music strike our tympanums, and thrill us with a sense of expectancy, we see a craning of necks, and notice a rush forward of the crowd that tells us that we are as calm as the thousands who surround us. From a feeling of expectancy we suddenly experience an emotion of admiration for the plumed and decorated horses of the first chariot passing the corner, on which our eager eyes are bent. They appear two by two, proudly prancing to the time of the band, until eight large, fine, dapple grays have come into view. How nobly they shake their waving feather plumes! Almost like Grecian heroes on Trojan fields! Can it be that they realize what creatures of superior mould are admiring their sleek and glossy coats, beneath which the play of strong muscles and nerves, full of animation, can be seen? The massive chariot next appears. On the first seat are the driver and his two assistants, attired in uniforms. It is a sight to see the driver handle the eight ribbons that guide his team. One would almost think that he would run out of fingers in his task of keeping all the ribbons taut, but deftly he keeps his team in line, now tightening on one rein, now loosening on another, and simultaneously guiding his “string” of horses as easily as a pianist would strike eight harmonious notes of his instrument. The chariot weighs over six tons, so that the ordinary brake is insufficient, and a helper at the driver’s side controls the wagon with an appliance similar to the brake on a freight car.
All this our eyes take in at a moment’s glance, and in another moment the entire chariot and its load of musicians in scarlet and gold uniforms come into view. The chariot is ablaze with gold and color. Huge carved lions, dragons, statues of savage people, mythological figures of the ancients, hounds, foxes, life-size groups of savage beasts devouring their prey, hobgoblins and griffins are chiseled out in wood amid a scroll-work of such intricate design and rare beauty that with eager eyes we drink in the magnificence of this massive vehicle and almost forget the band, seated high enough on its top to look into second-story windows and discoursing sweet strains of music.
With precision the driver guides his team until the chariot, or rather the palace on wheels, has reached the intersection of the streets. Suddenly he reins his leaders, and these, turning and followed by the other horses, swing around in such a manner that the turn is made and they are now moving at right angles to the course pursued when first they came into sight.
Up the street they come - the prancing horses, the dancing plumes, the glistening golden chariot, the sounding drums, the tinkling cymbals, the blaring trumpets, the deep tones of the basses, the high notes of the cornets, the harmonious alto and tenor horns, the shrill fifes, the mellow bassoons, the sweet-toned clarionets - all gladdening eye and ear with the poetry of sight and sound.
The band wagon is followed by many open dens of wild beasts. Now a den of lions hungrily surveying the crowds and greedily licking their chops for food which we will hope may never gratify their blood-thirsty appetites; and again a den of leopards stealthily treading about their enforced habitation and wistfully looking out beyond the iron bars into a world of unrestraint and freedom - who knows, perhaps longing for their native jungle from which the hands of savages, almost as savage as themselves, snatched their little baby forms - while mamma leopard left them in their lair to search for food - and sold them to the foreign agent of the circus. How gladly they would change their spots (which the good book says they cannot change) for a spot in a milder clime, where the warm blood of the antelope and its still quivering flesh would take the place of the domestic beef their keeper throws to them each day but one in the week.
Smooth, long-bodied tigers pace nervously to and fro before the multitude in another large open den. How they glare and growl and gnash at the curious and happy sight-seers! Then come cages of hyenas, those ghouls with the dull leaden eyes and restless motion, and an appetite for anything in the way of putrid flesh. Revolting, uncanny brutes! The sight finds nothing pleasing either in their form or actions. As other open dens, containing bears, panthers and other ferocious animals, come into sight we pay a hurried respect to the carved figures of Grecian soldiers, jugglers, huntsmen, etc., that ornament the corners of the heavily ironed vans, and also to the spangled and gold-embroidered banners that wave above them. There are four of these to each cage, and as a score or more of these have already passed our view we look down the street and see the silken banners waving by the hundred, all ornamented with rich designs of ancient coats-of-arms, rare birds and beasts and reptiles, and glistening in the morning sun.
As the music of the first band is beginning to sound indistinct another one approaches. Seated upon a massive chariot of white and gold, all aglow in warm sunlight and bright, burnished figures and glistening mirrors, the second band appears clad in uniforms of white. The eight coal-black horses that pull the chariot are trapped in white, and white plumes ornament their proudly nodding heads. The band plays a merry tune and the throng is again enthused with the sonorous martial sounds. Following this wagon come cavalcades of richly costumed ladies and their knightly escorts. The horses they ride are proudly-stepping aristocrats of the equine family, and one is carried back by the sight to the “days of old, when knights were bold, and barons held their sway.” The rich costumes, bright trappings, the devices of heraldry and of the war and chase, are remindful of the ancient tilt and tournament, and we are for the moment living in the days of feudalism. But we are recalled from this reflection to a sense of admiration for the magnificent chariot cages that now come into view. Such massive animal dens have never been seen before. They are decorated in white, green and red and ornamented in gold. They extend along the line of parade in an almost endless array. Their heavy chariot wheels, with the sunlight reflecting circles of gilt, rumble over the pavement. They are all carved in designs of bass-relief figures of attractive subjects.
Another band follows this part of the parade, and then more heavily ornamented cages are followed by a corps of fife and drum players in uniforms of Continental days. Then follow the heavy, carved and mirrored tableau cars. Upon one of these are seated the troupe of twelve Japanese performers, all dressed in garments and robes such as are worn in the Flowery Kingdom. Among these tableaux and chariots is one of St. George and the Dragon, representing the famous story in heavily carved figures of St. George mounted upon his horse and in the act of slaying the monster.
Chas. Clark, Russian Chimes Performer
But the sound of church chimes now reaches our ears, and, almost before we realize it, the most famous and magnificent musical feature ever introduced in a street parade is moving by. It is the Ringling Bros.’ monster Chime of Bells. Two performers of music are seated at the large key-board of the chimes and together they pull the heavy handle-keys that connect with the bells. “The Old Kentucky Home,” “Nearer My God To Thee,” anthems and hymns, popular airs and beautifully varied chords are played upon the massive chimes. The air is filled with music such as was never heard upon a public street before this feature was added to the Ringling Brothers’ parade. The mosque-like chariot in which the bells are ensconced receives almost as much admiration as the bells themselves. The carved figures are massive and in keeping with the idea and immensity of the bells, and the horses that pull the tons of sweet-toned metal through the streets are the heaviest of heavy Normans.
From the dominion of the despotic Czar to which the chimes have drawn our imagination we are now recalled to ancient and heroic Rome. The chariots and racing vehicles are coming into sight, together with the other reminders of the events that transpired within the Colosseum walls over two thousand years ago. These are followed by lady and gentlemen jockey riders, hurdle riders and other exponents of the modern race track. Hundreds of boys, all laughing and scrambling, and talking at once, next come into sight. It is not hard to guess the cause. They are following and surrounding the many clowns, who, in the comic carts and funny wagons, create such an uproar of hilarity with all the crowd. The giant giraffe next appears with his long neck stretched high above the hood of his tall cage, coquettishly, daintily looking down upon the multitudes that look upon him with wonder. Then comes the heavy, groveling hippopotamus in his huge tank, the zebras, horned gnus and other wild Animals, then more chariots, and finally, the herds of elephants and droves of camels with Nubian keepers attired in Oriental garb.
Finally comes the loud-toned Calliope in its heavy chariot wagon. What would the parade be without the Calliope? Surely it would seem incomplete, no matter how magnificent in other respects, if this steam-screeching creature (for it seems like a thing of life) did not bring up the rear!
As the last of the parade passes along, the words of the announcers, who have been telling us of the free exhibitions, have their effect, and, together with thousands of others, we wend our way towards the show grounds, following the parade as we go.
Arrived at the grounds we are treated to the free exhibitions and are told that tickets can be secured without extra charge in the morning, thus giving us a chance to avoid the rush at the wagon after dinner. We gladly avail ourselves of the opportunity and then listen to the announcements of the side show orators. “Did you ever hear a rooster play a fiddle?” This is the question we hear. Also the announcements of the fat man and giant and dwarf and living skeleton and snakes and mind-reading and Albinos and marionettes and magician, and - well - and the band plays and we go in. We see Punch and Judy and the large den of large snakes that Betra, the serpent queen, so nicely handles. Then comes the lecture. Prof. Frank Hubin tells us all about the Albinos - Robert Roy and Annie Roy - with the pink eyes, white skin and snow-white hair. We also see Major Winner, famous as the smallest man in the world. We see “Me and Him,” the living skeleton and the fat man, give a boxing exhibition. Then Prof. Harrison and wife, Mrs. Edith Harrison, give us a clever exhibition of mind-reading. Mr. Frank Hubin performs astonishing feats of magic, and then the Grays introduce upon the theatre stage their famous and funny marionette exhibition, concluding with the clown’s famous ride on the Texas steer.
Leaving the side show we wander out among the crowds waiting for the ticket wagon to open. They stand a hundred deep “in cubic phalanx firm” and patiently wait for the doors of the wagon to swing upward. The advertised hour for the wagon to open is one o’clock, but the crowd clamors so for tickets that the sale of the little red pieces of pasteboard begins at 12:30 P. M. What a rush there is! What a crowding and jamming and mad, excited pushing forward of the eager populace! Every one among the thousands wants his tickets at the same time. No one can wait. Hats are knocked off, canes and umbrellas are dropped in the excitement, and for a time it seems as if every one of the struggling multitude were stark mad; but the ticket-sellers keep their heads and deal out the tickets so rapidly that the first rush is soon over, and instead of confusion the crowds are in a steady stream leaving the wagon for the big show door. Here a scene of equal interest greets us. Four large passageways are needed to keep the crowd from blocking up the entrance. Here four ticket-takers, assisted by as many attendants in police uniforms, are busy accepting the tickets. What an outpouring of humanity! A steady stream - a river of human beings passing through the main entrance for over one hour. There are old and young, the gay and light-hearted, the sad-looking and the sorrow-laden; and yet even these latter have a brighter look than they are wont to wear and the gay and happy are even gayer than usual. What a sight! What a study! What food for reflection one can gather from seeing the constant passing of human beings! How, at times, the sense of humor is aroused by some rustic lad and lass, as, with peanut or pop-corn bags, they munch and gape and stare and look dumfounded and pass in and are lost in the multitude! And how pathos is blended with the humor that surrounds us as we see some old man and woman, bent with age, but wearing the smile they wore on a circus-day many years ago, when life was young and the world was fair and opened up a dream of happiness to them! Many of those dreams have been shattered perhaps. The lines of care in their old faces say so, at least, but there is a light in the dear old eyes as they pass under the tent that tells us circus-day brings with it a magic vehicle that transports the old couple back to the happy days of yore.
And the children, how happy they are! Dear little things! The world is all pleasure to them still. Some of them have never seen a circus before. To those of the little tots this day will never be forgotten. Who is it that does not remember his first circus? How delighted every one is to tell you of that circus - that first one - so many years ago and to describe to you the minutest details of the day. It was the best of all circuses. You have seen good shows since, but never one where the elephants were so large, or the lions so fierce, or the tent so big, and the leapers turned their somersaults so much higher and quicker, and the riders rode with such grace and skill. But what cared you for grace or skill then - to be under the tent was happiness, beyond which there could be no brighter joy. It was a fairyland which you reluctantly left at the conclusion of the performance. Well, your thoughts and electrified spirits are duplicated to-day by hundreds of little ones who will live through the same happiness. You can see it in their faces. We will join the crowd and view the animals.
The first idea impressed upon the mind on entering the menagerie of the World’s Greatest Shows is one of magnitude. Admiration for the unbounded resources of its zoological wealth soon gives way, however, to an enchanting sense of being surrounded by the most curious and wonderful in the animal life of every country on the globe. It makes no difference whether we are interested in the animals of the forest and jungle, or in those that frequent the hot desert sands or lave in the stagnant waters of tropical streams, in reptilia, or in those that poise upon the ambient air - all, everything here, is spread before us, a feast for the eyes and a study for the mind. It matters not whether the visitor be a student of natural history or merely a casual observer of zoological subjects; whether adult or child; a grand universal lesson of his Creator’s wisdom and goodness is before him, and fills him with indescribable admiration for the wonderful and diversely patterned creatures with which the Infinite has populated the earth.
What a wonderful disseminator of moral ideas the philosopher finds here! and such an eloquent sermon on Divine goodness from dumb, savage beasts! opening to the child Nature’s “rare and-radiant” book; implanting in the youthful mind the first germs of knowledge; stimulating the untutored for the acquirement of learning; broadening the ideas of every one, and giving the student the practical association his scientific researches so much require.
But our time for abstract speculation is cut short by the fact that the printed programme, which the management so kindly furnishes us, gives but one hour previous to the beginning of the delightful entertainment that awaits us in the Monster Hippodrome and Circus tent, the entrance of which greets us at the distant farther end of the Menagerie. We therefore avail ourselves for the present hour of the tour of inspection afforded us by the greatest collection of animals ever brought together, and postpone closer observation for the unlimited time which one of the uniformed attendants politely informs us we will have at the conclusion of the performance, and when, he also suggests, we will be treated to the sight of seeing the wild beasts fed.
Before us is a broad, public promenade, surrounded on the outside by tiers of massive dens, cages and tanks of amphibia, beautiful in decoration of gold and color, and teeming with animal life; through the center long rows and groups of massive elephants, camels, dromedaries, curious cattle, such as we never saw before, elk reindeer, llamas, bisons, and animals too large for or unsuited to the cages, in infinite variety; the broad promenade forming a continuous, elongated circle between and opening out to us a tour of the world.
The first thing we notice, after joining the thousands of wondering humanity who are thronging the main aisles, is the admirable classification and grouping of the animals. In all menageries heretofore exhibited there has been no arrangement of the different species, a circumstance, in all probability, due to the fact that the collections have been too meager to admit of such a system. The Ringling Bros.’ Menagerie is so complete and exhaustive that this defect is nowhere apparent. Even Ringling Bros. have never until this year presented so perfect and complete a variety for classification, and they can justly pride themselves on its universal character and splendid, systematic arrangement.
The first group we come to is the “Ornithological or Bird Display.” To the display of gaily plumaged birds are devoted a number of cages, in coloring and design beautifully suited to the subjects.
The flutter of many pinions, the twitter and warble of divers songs, and the varicolored reflections of the ensemble, is a simultaneous picture of the sunrise hour of every land and clime. Leaving the bird display, before which hundreds are admiring - the ladies in the majority, and these with exclamations of delight at natural costumes before which the efforts of Worth are insignificant - we pass on to the exhibit of Monkeys.
Here we find happy childhood most conspicuous, laughing as only children can laugh at each new antic of the apes and monkeys, which outrival in number and variety any collection of these ludicrous creatures ever exhibited before, and fill a whole row of cages grotesque in gold-in-laid carvings and bright coloring. The families of the Old and of the New World are grouped separately, and among the chattering labyrinth are seen every variety from the huge ape, known to the African natives as the “Man of the Woods,” to the midget marmosets, including the intermediate grades, such as the chimpanzee, the mandrill, baboon, lemur, and so on throughout the category. One pair of large apes draw special attention, as they eat their meal at a neatly set table, using knives, forks, spoons and napkins.
But we have already spent too much time with this collection and must hurry on to the department of Carnivora or the beasts of prey. This collection necessarily occupies more cages than any of the others, the lions alone requiring three monster dens in which to house the dozen or more specimens. The “King of the Forest” is the first in order of the group, as displayed in the World’s Greatest Menagerie. The first of the lion cages contains a magnificent male specimen, whose shaggy mane and noble mien, together with physical outlines of strength and courage, bespeak the right to his lordly title. In the same den several sleek lionesses are pacing to and fro. All of this group are forest-bred. The next den contains a family of two male and two female lions, all brothers and sisters, full grown, and reared in the Ringling Bros.’ Winter Menagerie. The next contains a lioness and her family of young babes, the three dens displaying the forest animal, the developed captive-bred, and the condition of rearing, an interesting sight to everyone, and a splendid object lesson for the naturalist. Lining the right side of the promenade and stretching out into distance are den after den and cage after cage of magnificent Royal Bengal tigers, fierce African jaguars, stealthy leopards, panthers, civets, pumas, and numerous others of the feline tribe. At the end of this line we branch off into the family embracing the uncanny spotted and striped hyenas, different varieties of wolves, two fiery-eyed jackals, cape dogs, etc. There is little to admire here except the completeness of the collection, for well-fed and sleek as the specimens are the character of the animals in this group is such that we find nothing in them, as in the lion, to admire, but much to shudder at. But they are needed to make the vast collection complete, and we find that the Ringling Bros. have spared nothing in accomplishing this end. The next family of the Carnivora we come to is the bears. Here we see huge grizzly, cinnamon, polar, brown, black, and long-lipped bears restlessly pacing the floors of their large dens.
The next family we come to are the marsupials, and most noteworthy among these the Australian kangaroos. From these we pass on to the ruminants. They are exhibited in seven distinct families, and the variety is profuse. The first division of the ruminants is the deer family. Here we see behind the bars of many ornate cages the huge swaying horns and antlers of the axis, fallow deer, caricon, muntjac, snow-white Russian deer, and directly opposite, among the led animals, different varieties of the elk and moose. Next are the musk family, followed by a superb group of the different varieties of the antelope. In this collection we find the pallah, the African eland, with its broad muzzle, the Alpine chamois, the gazelle, the oryx, nyl-ghau, etc. The most wonderful of this group is the horned horse or gnu. It is the nondescript of all animals, having the body and tail of the horse, the head and shoulders of the buffalo, and the legs of the antelope. The next family we come to are the bovines. Among them Egyptian white cattle, buffalo, bison, sacred cattle of India, and the yak, for the most part exhibited in the inner spaces lining the broad promenade, all tabulated with gilded signs hung to the cages and suspended from the cord nettings that form the compartments of the led animals. Among the latter are shown the camel family, embracing large herds of the Bactrian or double-humped species, as well as the Arabian camel or dromedary, a varicolored display of llamas and alpacas, etc.
But our attention, so long absorbed in viewing groups and families, is suddenly drawn to one single feature. It is the giant giraffe, the tallest animal in the world. It is a beautiful specimen, and one of the only two in captivity, but to see the other we would have to journey to London, England. What a wonderful animal it is! And what a splendid opportunity is afforded for its inspection! The Ringling Bros. evidently realize the importance to visitors of this great zoological treat, for an immense netting, forming a large inclosure, is used during the exhibition hours, so that we can study the animal thoroughly, see its gait while walking, and get a comprehensive idea of its eighteen feet of height. With all this, however, we can hardly realize that before us is an animal that can readily poke his head into the second-story window of a house and have several feet to spare.
Genuine African zebras next attract our attention. To the same family belongs the horse, but the more than 350 head of these are exhibited in an immense separate tent, and only Prince Chaldean, the long-maned Percheron, with a mane over nine feet long and dragging on the ground, besides the hairless horse and some twenty-five or thirty pretty Shetland and Icelandic ponies, are exhibited here.
The thick-skinned, ugly rhinoceros and long-nosed tapir are next viewed, following which we find the Amphibia and water-living animals, sea lions, etc., displayed.
The feature of this department is the tremendous, blood-sweating hippopotamus, from the River Nile. What an enormous beast it is! vying with the elephant for supremacy in size and presenting a picture of animal life as it existed in prehistoric times. The huge beast splashes about in its watery bed, now diving beneath and again coming above the surface and exhibiting its stupendous proportions, ever and anon opening its giant mouth and displaying a huge cavern, ominous as the “jaws of death” were we not protected from it by the strong iron bars between.
But we have already spent more time in the menagerie than we can spare, if we wish to hear a portion of the musical programme preceding the performance and rendered by Prof. Weldon’s Great Military Band. Hastily viewing the herds of elephants and other animals occupying the center spaces, and which busy attendants are decorating in robes and coverings of the returning conquerors, we wend our way with the thousands into the huge hippodrome and circus tent.
The sight that greets us here is a magnificent one. From the entrance to the extreme end is a distance of at least 600 feet. The width of the tent is 200 feet. The circle is completely filled with seats, and the seats are filled with people. There is a hushed murmur of admiration as the baton of the musical director ascends, and with its downward stroke is accompanied by the outpouring of the sweet tones of the big band. The overture is a descriptive one, and many effects of a striking and novel nature are introduced. Solos by individual members of the band intersperse the beautiful piece of music. The band members are grouped on a large stage in the center of the canvas, so that all can see the musicians as well as hear the music.
The grand descriptive fantasie begins with a fanfare of the trumpets, announcing the arrival of a king and his court. The movement is maestoso, and the sonorous sounds of the martial bugles fill the immense canvas with their sharp intonations. Beginning forte, and with increasing volume, as the rising tones almost speak of regal presence, rounding out into full double forte, the climax is reached, and the other instruments of the band chime in and add their melodious fullness to the military metre of the fanfare. As the majestic tones rise and swell we hear the stately tread of a royal train passing through huge pillared halls, and as the fanfare again breaks upon our ears, the splendor of an ancient royal court bursting into view, is conjured up by the magic of the masterly music. And now it takes a lively turn, and reminds us of groups of bright-eyed maidens dancing before the royal throng, and singing songs of praise to the crown. But the voices of gaiety and merriment which the music carries to us are hushed, and give place to the round, deep sounds of the euphonium. The full, rich tones are like the warning of some wise counselor of the king, who, with the rising and sinking and swelling of its dulcet tones, tells of the menaced invasion of the kingdom. There are pleadings and threatenings, and the call to arms in the music, and as the eloquent passage closes, it breaks out into a wild refrain that sounds like the applause extended to some fiery Cicero.
There is next a tremble of flutes and other wood instruments like the wailing of women and children parting from those who must go to battle, mingled with the hoarse basses and trombones foreboding the din of war. This is followed by an allegro movement, depicting the departure of the soldiery, and this by the heroic sounds of a majestic war song.
The music next brings us on board a man-of-war. The ship’s bell rings, the cannons fire parting salutes, and as the music merges into a brisk six-eight time we imagine the anchor to have weighed, and the warriors sailing on to victory or death. And so the music varies, depicting life on the vast waters, the merriment of the sailors, man overboard, etc.
The storm scene is next pictured by sound. The clarionets and piccolos imitate the whistling of the fierce winds through the ship’s masts and rigging. This movement is what a musician would call allegro furioso. Beginning with the lowest tones of the wood instruments, the sounds, with a rapid, slurred movement, increase in height of pitch and in loudness, until they reach the highest tones, reproducing the effect of wind striking sharp obstructions while moving with terrific velocity. As the howling of the wind reaches the climax through these instruments, the cornets and other brass horns chime in with syncopated movement, and the trombones convey an idea of the dashing of the fierce waves, while the basses and drums burst out into the thunder of Old Ocean, and guns signalling distress are fired. Small cannons are used to produce the last effect. With the changing music we hear the storm abating, the prayer of thanksgiving and finally the quietness following the storm.
There are songs of love in soulful melodies next and then the weird sounds of melancholy, of discontent, and at last the rumbling murmur of mutiny on board; then the baritone solo, depicting the commander quelling the discordant throng. There is the clash of a naval engagement and the sounds of victory, the burial of the dead and the return homeward of the victorious hosts, and finally, amid the sounds of triumph, the entry into port. The audience bursts into thunders of applause at the masterly manner in which Prof. Weldon’s Band has rendered the music.
Since the opening of the doors and during intervals between the music the audience has been kept in a state of hilarity by an innocent-looking German countryman and a typical city dude. The German, with a small string of “ sisages” and a loaf of bread for a lunch and a tin pail containing an amber-colored fluid resembling beer, seems to have taken a dislike to the dude. The latter, with eye-glass and cane, high collar and general extravagance of dress, is apparently bent on making an impression on the fair sex. One dignified old lady remarks to another that it is Judge So-and-So’s son and that he is a worthless, vain and useless kind of fellow. Every time the dude is looking his sweetest or has assumed his most charming pose, the German steals up behind him and knocks off his hat or purloins his cane or annoys him in some other way until the exasperated dude, losing his temper, strikes at him “real hard.” This infuriates the German and he assaults the dude in return, and as the latter starts to run away he is bombarded with chunks of bread, links of sausage and the pail of beer - pursuer and pursued chasing around the hippodrome track. Thus for a time and while the people are taking seats these two keep the audience in roars of laughter. When the performance is about to commence they take to the dressing-room and the audience thereby learns that they were “in the play.”
At last the trumpets sound and the grand tournament begins. It is a sight of true magnificence. Clad in robes of richest hues, the hundreds of people, the glittering chariots, the richly-trapped horses, the shining armors, the waving banners, the led wild animals in their entirety, unfold a panoramic review of the glories of Ancient Rome, delighting, bewildering, overwhelming and astounding the thousands. As the arenic and spectacular splendor increases with every moment, it fills the triple rings and stages and the immense hippodrome track. There are huge sights of joy and victory, the blare of trumpets and the sounds of music. There is a tremendous outpouring and outspreading of a vast bannered army and motley throng of travelers, wayfarers, embassadors, mailed marching warriors, gladiators, charioteers, steel-clad knights, royal grandees, mounted cavaliers and ladies, helmeted spearsmen, civilians, squires, high priests and wandering Jews, actors, Moors and Mamelukes, Bedouins of the desert, outlaws booted and spurred, Grand Turks, nobles, vestals, senators, gray-beards, orators, barbarians and captives. Photo: W. W. Reese, Superintendent of Wardrobe.
During the entire picture of “Ye Ancient Day,” the Asbeys, on an elevation in the very center of the big tent, are presenting on a revolving apparatus living statuary of the classic, sculptured sights that greeted the Roman hosts in their famous entry through the Eternal City. At the conclusion of the tournament, representations of the Farewell and Return of the Soldier are given. It is a story from the late civil war. The first picture represents the wife reading a letter of her husband's enlistment. The white female figure thrown out by the black background of the revolving pedestal is a tribute to noble American womanhood, which was many times exemplified during the stirring times the picture represents. The music is patriotic and the sympathies of the audience are with the act from the start. The trumpets sound a bugle call and we see the sad parting of the new recruit from wife and home. We next see the young soldier on picket duty before the battle. The band plays “O, My Comrades, See the Signal,” and the glitter of tears is in the eyes of many a veteran who himself has lived the scene before him. The music plays the plaintive melody of “The Vacant Chair,” while the scene is changed to a familiar picture of war, the husband writing a letter home after the battle. The din of battle is over, the war is ended and we see the happy home-coming of the soldier, the tender embrace of loved ones, and as the band plays a national air the audience, enthused by the beauty and patriotism of the scene, breaks into prolonged cheers.
The circus now begins in real earnest. The first number is rendered by the troupe of twelve Japanese, who are among the features of the show. The band plays an air remindful of Oriental scenes and the deft and dexterous Japs begin their work. In the center stage Yamota, on a pedestal, balances with his feet a double perch. This is an act of itself, but two little Japs, Kickmato and Koyashi, climb up the two perches, that start from a given point like a two-pronged fork and extend some twenty feet into the air, and a wonderful act of balancing ensues. A rope reaching from the ground to the very top of the center-pole in another ring is walked upon by clever Ando Lakula. When he reaches the top he is seen to fasten his toes to the rope, and with wonderful powers of equilibrium, he slides down the entire inclined rope to the ground retaining his standing position. The same movements are repeated backwards and in a sitting posture. Still in another ring Kimmora Katora and Fugo Akimota are performing with a ladder, which, being balanced on the shoulder of Katora and mounted by Fugo, breaks into many pieces at the climax of the act and leaves the little Japanese girl high on the top of a swaying perch.
The next number consists of contortion acts. Joe Lewis, on the center stage and upon a stairway leading up to a platform, executes the most difficult feats of contortion, hand stands, leaps to the hands, serpentine twistings up and down the stairway and close bending that could be imagined. In another ring Sankichi is bending and turning his lithe Oriental form into the most fantastic shapes, while in a farther ring Eddie Dell is performing another style of contortion work.
Arthur Dacoma, Aerialist
The next number is by the Dacomas, aerialists. The wonderful work of the famous brother and sister merits a description. The apparatus used for the act is com-
posed of six uprights, about thirty feet in height. At one end a suspended platform furnishes a standing place from which the young lady swings on the trapeze bar a trifle forward of a point directly overhead. At the other end,
a distance of fifty feet away, Arthur Dacoma is suspended by another trapeze bar. Mounting the pedestal the young lady grasps the trapeze and swings out into the air. Suddenly she loosens her hold upon the bar and dashes through space; bird-like she dives forward, and in a twinkling is safely caught by her brother, and again leaving his hold, she flies back to the still swinging empty bar, swings back to the pedestal, mounts it, and with a graceful movement smiles at the audience, which bursts forth into thunders of applause.
Mlle. Dacoma, Aerialist
She again swings out, this time placing both feet and hands against the bar, her body forming a graceful curve, and turns a half somersault in the air, again dives into her brother’s arms, and returning, pirouettes and grasps the swinging bar, again mounting to the pedestal. The next feat is that of swinging out with the head raised the length of the arms above the trapeze, and leaping over the bar into her brother’s arms. From this position she leaps through space back to the starting-point and to the pedestal.
These different flights through space are performed with such precision that the ensuing feats arouse the audience to a fever heat of anticipation, each flight being more difficult than the preceding one up to the concluding double somersault, in which the young lady is caught by the feet instead of the hands. The act closes with a dive from the very apex of the canvas into her brother’s arms, and the applause that greets the finish is terrific.
The leaping of the entire company is next presented, single, twisting and double somersaults forming the programme, and being performed over objects, banners, elephants and camels. Those doing double somersaults are William De Van, Ernest Melville, Woody Gillette and Johnny Rooney. Eight clowns intersperse the enthusiastic event with many ludicrous mishaps, funny falls and laughter-provoking antics.
The next embraces strong acts by trained horses in the several rings.
In one ring the handsome cream-colored horses on pedestals show a wonderful degree of training. Sultan, the beautiful stallion, is introduced in the act and dances, marches, trots in Spanish fashion and performs all kinds of difficult figures. In another ring sixteen spotted horses go through a military drill and kneel, untie handkerchiefs from their feet, choose colors from a closed box, ring bells, roll barrels, teeter, form pyramids and many other clever tricks, In the center ring a troupe of Shetland ponies exhibit their marvelous training. As the whistle of the equestrian director is sounded, the thirty horses and ponies, galloping towards the dressing-room at one time, form a picture almost as pretty as the acts they have performed.
A series of Japanese posturing next delights the audience. Kickmato and Katora in one ring, Yamato and Koyashi in another and Itchmatch Sankichi in a third, form a picture of swiftly revolving and radiantly costumed Orientals never equalled in circus rings, and one which delights the audience with its artistic and comical effect.
Miss Josie Ashton and Miss Lottie Aymar next exploit in wonderful female equestrianism. Their remarkable riding of principal acts is interspersed with the funniest of funny clowning, introduced by Lew Sunlin, William West, Jules Turnour, Albert Gaston and others.
A magnificent display of statuesque acrobatics is next presented by the Leondor Brothers, an act of much posturing, expert and artistic attitudinizing, and graceful as well as difficult groupings. Throughout the display, a design in action becomes apparent. The performers are draped a la marble statues, and as such, apparently chiseled from the virgin stone and inanimate, they first appear. Suddenly the apparently lifeless stone becomes animated. Surprise is clearly depicted in face, form and action, and the erstwhile seemingly stony forms glow with artistic grace and poetic motion. Thereafter follow quickly changing statues, throughout which some superb acrobatic work is done, in a manner which marks its exponents as premier performers. Greece-Roman wrestlers, gladiatorial combatants and modern athletic exercises follow, in which great acrobatic feats in purely classic style are portrayed; the whole concludes with low and lofty tumbling and gymnic exercises, surprising and delighting the beholders.
While the foregoing is in operation, Ring No. 1 is occupied by the ambidextrous Herr Drayton, who picturesquely juggles heavy cannon-balls with an ease and grace of execution which is charming and astonishing. Ando Lakulo, another son of the Enchanted Isle, as though in sheer contrast to the herculean jugglery of Drayton, toys with surprising deftness and an ease and dexterity surprisingly accurate with the very lightest objects, and virtually fills the air with flying and revolving objects, seemingly intangible, yet strictly under the commanding dexterity of the hands of the finished juggler.
A comical juggling display is seen in the work of M. Jules Turnour, who, with dinner-plates, heavy umbrellas, ungainly tubs and other uncouth objects, does a funny series of juggling acts, as well as highly amusing the audience with a number of clownish pranks and antics, for throughout the exhibition he is arrayed in a suit of motley.
Miss West next entertains with feats on the high tight-wire. This young lady, who seems to be all but winged, slides, glides, runs, walks, dances, swings and sways in a most startling manner upon the thread-like support in mid-air in a very delightful way indeed.
Mrs. Annie West, High Wire Artiste.
Miss Jessie Leon, in Ring No. 2, also performs in a wonderfully dexterous manner upon a similarly arranged and frail support, with an equal precision and artistic
grace of movement. Simultaneous with these acts is seen a marvelous display of high-wire walking by that toe thaumaturgist, Matumato, which for excellent action probably stands without an equal.
Jessie Leon, High Wire Artiste.
In a space between Ring No. 3 and the elevated stage, Master Johnnie Rooney gives an aerial display of terpsichorean feats upon the high tight-rope, doing jig-steps, hornpipes and waltzes to the music of the band and wonderment of the audience.
The Gillett Family on bicycles and unicycles hold the elevated stage and give the audience wheels to their heart’s content. These masters of the art of expert velocipede exploiting do many wonderful things. They are five in number and acquit themselves on the single as well as the double wheel excellently, M. Gillett himself actually doing a skipping-rope dance, perfect in time and motion to the music of the band.
Doc Miller next, in Ring No. 1, is seen on the high single trapeze, doing an expert balancing act, while directly over the stage, high in the air, Mr. John Alton does a similar one. Miss Josie Ashton is right in the ring at this stage of the programme, by entertaining on the flying rings, between Rings Nos. 1 and 2, also high in the circumambient.
Doc Miller, High Pyramid Performer
Miss Lottie Aymar is at this time also nearing the empyrean, confronting danger and assaulting the top of the canvas while she fearlessly swings in a balancing feat on the trapeze bar. A most difficult act has all this time been in operation by Mr. James Irwin [William?], who, contrary to all natural laws, balances himself on his head on the trapeze bar, and swinging from side to side in a whirling and death-defying manner, which is always rewarded by outbursts of applause.
William Irwin, Head-balancing Trapezist
Again the gong sounds and instantly the rings are repeopled, this time by Akimoto and Kotoro, on the break-away ladder; the Tybells on a ladder at once perpendicular and horizontal, and Duval upon the unsupported ladder. The first two acts consist of gymnic work on 24-foot ladders, which break away at the finish, leaving the performers standing upon their heads on perches fastened to the side of the ladder which remains after the other side and rungs have fallen. Mr. Duval’s act consists of climbing and performing upon an unsupported ladder, and humorously divesting himself of a suit of sailor clothes, in a manner which is quite entertaining, after which he does head-balancing and other wonderful feats upon the ladder.
While these exploits are being given, the hippodrome track has been occupied by a number of clowns, who in various ways provoke the risibilities of the audience. They do numerous antics, and cause considerable fun in the most unexpected manner, varying the programme by introducing new lines of work at almost every performance, something, by the way, unexampled in clown history.
The gong no sooner sounds at the termination of the foregoing, than a pair of Arabian steeds enter, beautifully ridden by Mike Rooney and Allie Jackson, who occupy Rings 1 and 2, in a magnificent manege act, horses and riders acquitting themselves creditably; while on the stage in the center a bevy of clowns are keeping the audience amused by various antics, by burlesquing the very artistic equestrianism.
The next number consists of Japanese umbrella kicking by Jamato, a son of the Land of Flowers. A most difficult and dangerous feat of walking on a ladder of swords on her bare feet, by Miss Okeo Akimota, follows.
Prof. Drayton is at this time seen in Ring No. 1 doing a Roman barrel-dancing act, handling his feet with the characteristic expertness with which jugglers ordinarily use their hands.
On the elevated stage the Gillett Family do an acrobatic turn, which is novel and extraordinary, defying accurate description in this limited space, and can best be described as a succession of remarkably executed somersaults and aerial pirouetting, extremely pleasing, together with superior posturing displays.
The Gardner Brothers, in Ring No. 2, are at the same time displaying their wonderful perch act, which consists of one brother holding in an upright position an immense perch thirty feet high, while the other ascends and performs a number of perilous feats upon it, remarkable for dexterity and finish.
The rings and stage are next occupied as follows: Ring No. 1, the performing donkeys and Sunlin, the humorist; Sunlin is Nature’s clown, and his pair of donkeys are quadrupedal imitations of their amusing master. The old “trick mule,” that belligerent acquaintance of our boyhood days, still keeping up his tricks and throwing everybody, is keeping the audience in roars of laughter, and his amateurish riders in a state of fear and dexterity, by the manner in which he dispossesses himself of unprofessional incumbrances, and allows none to ride him. A burlesque donkey act is at this time being exploited upon the stage, clown and donkeys doing very funny work, the donkeys being as expert at laugh-creating as their master, the comical animal educator.
Following the next sound of the gong, two rushing horses emerge from the dressing-rooms, and with their agile riders occupy Rings Nos. 1 and 2, when commences a series of hurdle acts of break-neck riding and leaping cross-country by Wm. DeVan and handsome Dan Leon, with high and long leaps, and riding of such remarkable skill, by this duo of amazing horsemen, as invariably brings down the house.
“Doc” Miller, the equilibrist far excellence, is seen in Ring No. 1, in a unique and picturesque act on a pyramid of chairs and bottles, building the pyramid as he proceeds with his feat, and balancing in various attitudes on each section of it as it mounts, until it has attained the height of the canvas, when he concludes with gymnastic work of a nature that permits of no parallel.
Miss Irwin, known as the iron-jawed lady, is next drawn to the high dome of the immense tent, while her agile form is suspended from a strap held in her pearly teeth. Having attained the apex of the dome, her attendant swings her with great force and almost increditable swiftness through the air, and then doubling up her handsome body she whirls with the rapidity of thought, while still holding by her teeth, in a most bloodcurdling manner high above the heads of the audience.
Millie Irwin, Iron-Jawed Lady
Rose and Arthur, on the double trapeze, next perform some hazardous feats, consisting of flying leaps, dangerous drops, and startling evolutions in mid-air, toe-to-toe swings and balances, somersaults from bar to bar, and harnessed swinging of a most surprising nature, the whole being the personification of grace, and highly artistic aerial work.
Lundin, the strongest man on earth, now proceeds to handle extremely heavy weights with an ease remarkable and entertaining, and finishes his herculean tasks by supporting upon his naked breast a bridge containing a number of persons, who weigh in the aggregate 3,500 pounds.
The next is a remarkable display of bareback somersault riding by the greatest riders of the arena, Mr. Charles Fish and Mr. Michael Rooney. The riding of these gentlemen is a most remarkable display of daring and artistic equestrianism. Back and front somersaults, extraordinary leaping and statuesque posing unrivalled in its peculiar and hazardous nature.
Clowns on the stage are pleasing young and old by many peculiar and funny antics, which they keep up continuously during the riding performance, finishing with a funny climax, entitled “The Rooster,” which convulses the people with laughter.
This finishes the circus performance proper, and the great Roman Hippodrome is at once introduced These races have never been equalled on any hippodrome course in this country, and seldom beaten on the race tracks of the country. The picturesque and classic Roman standing and chariot races are unequalled for dash, spirit and expertness. The following is the order in which the races are run:
Display No. 20: The dash, vim, fire, spirit of all riding. Unexampled acts of hurricane hurdle riding. The most fearless, dashing, hero hurdle rider of two continents, William De Van. Object holders - Messrs. Asbey, Block, Aymar. Masters of the Rings, Messrs. Rooney, Melville. Object holders - Messrs. Lewis, Irwin, Bliss. The great American exponent of rapid riding over gates and hurdles, Dan Leon. The audience is requested to retain their seats during the races.
Dan Leon, Hurdle Rider
1. Master Johnnie Rooney, riding and driving eighteen ponies twice around the track.
2. Gents’ Flat Race. Rider, Colors, Horse: Frank Jones, Red and Yellow, Gray Eagle; Thomas Foley, Blue and White, Dynamite; John Engle, White and Black, Fire Fly; Ed. Fry, Green and White, Excelsior.
3. Three Four-Horse Tandem Team, ridden and reined by John Scott.
4. Novelty Race. Thoroughbred running horse against small pony. Rider, horse: John Coyle, Thoroughbred, Fire Fly; Johnnie Rooney, Pony, Spider.
5. Ladies’ Flat Race. Rider, color, horse: Allie Jackson, Red, Bazal; Annie West, Blue, Rover; Jessie Leon, White, Flyer.
6. Roman Standing Race. Rider, color, horse: Dan Leon, Red, Eager and Frank; William De Van, Blue, Orlando and Belshazzar; Frank Jones, White, Snipper and Jackson.
7. Pony Chariot Race, once around the track. Driver, Color, Horses: John Rooney, Red, Chub and Nugent; Frank Emmett, White, Frank and Midget.
8. Napoleon, the leaping horse, ridden by Frank Jones.
9. Comical Sulkey Race, clown drivers. Driver, horse: Lew Sunlin, Africa; Al. Gaston, Seely.
10. Man against horse, man running once around the track, the horse once and one-quarter around. Rider, Tom Foley; Horse, Excelsion; Sprinter, Clate Alexander.
11. Terrific Four-Horse Roman Chariot Race. Driver, Horses: Rhoda Royal - Topsy, Charley, Fred and Spit-Fire; Thomas Foley - Satan, Orlando, Rubin and Dexter.
Note. - The author is indebted to Mr. Harry Gray for many of the following notes, also to Messrs. Clate Alexander, Oscar Puckett and others, who daily jotted down the events as they occurred.
Opening Day. Baraboo, Wis. Saturday, April 28th. A beautiful day. Hright sunshine covers the immense spread of new snow-white canvas with a glimmer of gold, emblematic of the less sentimental but more sought-for gold that is to accrue to the big show’s profit during the season. The parade, contrary to opening-day experience of the past, is out on time and many sight-seers who have in previous years waited an hour or two after the regular time and tell themselves that “they’re always late here,” miss seeing the bright, new, novel and artistic procession. Afternoon house big. Night house big. Hotels, Warren. Wisconsin House, Brewer House and C. & N. W. Hotel. Everything works as smoothly as though the show had been out for weeks.
Freeport, Ill. Monday, April 30th. C. & N. W. Ry.. 139 miles. Hotel Clifton. Heavy rains hurt business somewhat, but they come in immense numbers and are loud in their praise of the show. Bad lot. Chris La Role was hurt during his act here. While preparing for his double high-air somersault the pedestal upon which he stood gave way, precipitating him to the ground, a distance of about 25 feet. In his descent his hand struck a wire and was quite badly cut. The fall was not a serious one, and Chris escaped this part of his accident with nothing worse than a severe shaking up. Oscar Puckett and Charles DeWitt, members of the big band, had a pleasant visit with Col. M. B. Miller, a jovial gentleman and one of the leading men of Winchester, Ind., the home of Messrs. Puckett and Dewitt.
Mt. Carroll, Ill. Tuesday, May 1st. C., M. & St. P. Ry., 27 miles. Hotel Park. Lot near depot. Town is situated among the hills a mile and a half from the grounds, so everyone has a chance to practice pedestrianism. Heavy rain and wind-storm comes up at 5 P. M., causing considerable damage. Owing to continued rain and wind and a long run ahead of us no night performance is given here.
Davenport, Iowa. Wednesday, May 2d. C., M. & St. Paul Ry., 69 miles. Hotel Downs. Good lot. Fine weather. Enormous crowds witness parade. Afternoon house packed to its utmost. Night house overflowing. One of the canvasmen, Will Leahy, is accidentally wounded by a layout-pin being driven into the calf of the leg and is taken to hospital. Spooner Comedy Company visit at night, also friends from the Washburn Show.
Muscatine, Iowa. Thursday, May 3d. C., R. I. & P. Ry., 22 miles. Hotel Commercial. Good lot. Weather fine. Afternoon house good. Night house good. Citizens say that they never saw such an orderly lot of circus employees before and the show receives the very highest praise in the local papers.
Burlington, Iowa. Friday, May 4th. B., C. R. & N. Ry., 76 miles. Hotel Prospect. Good lot. Fine weather. Good business afternoon and night. Show receives most flattering praise from the Burlington Hawkeye, an excellent journal but noted for its extreme conservativeness and unshod criticism of amusements that do not come up to the proper standard.
Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Saturday, May 5th. C., B. & Q. Ry., 27 miles. Hotel Harlan. Fine weather during day. Our big parade completely covers the town. A friendly farmer with a wicked eye objects to our wagons crossing a corner of his land and the side show paintings have to be taken down to let the parade out. Afternoon house big. Night house good. A heavy shower badly mixed with wind stopped show about 8:45 P. M. Okeo, the little Japanese lady, was seriously hurt by falling from the foot ladder, a distance of some 18 or 20 feet. Miss Josie Ashton sustained injuries while riding her principal act, incapacitating her for work for a number of days
Ottumwa, Iowa. Monday, May 7th. C., B. & Q. Ry., 48 miles. Hotel Laclede. Light rains in the morning but clear weather at noon. Afternoon house big. Night house big. Rubber, a jockey rider, was hurt in the races. Dick Hunter left for the advance.
Kirksville, Mo. Tuesday, May 8th. Wabash Ry., 74 miles. Hotels Ives and Willard. Good lot on Fair Grounds. Weather fine. Afternoon house good. Night house fair. Our side show manager, Mr. Hugh Harrison, departs for Leavenworth, Kan., and Mr. J. W. Beattie. assistant, has charge for a few days. Coxey’s soldiers are numerous here but none apply for work.
Salisbury, Mo. Wednesday, May 9th. Wabash Ry., 78 miles. A rainy, disagreeable day. Rain begins before seven, but does not quit before eleven. On the contrary, it continues to rain all day. At 5 P. M. a heavy wind-storm adds its strength to the elements, and lowers the side show tent to the ground. The rooster orchestra was almost demolished, and Victor, the Italian trainer of the musical fowls, is heart-broken and frantically cries, “Iz bruck! Iz gone! Iz too bod.” The rooster orchestra seems indeed a hopeless wreck, but is repaired the next day and the Shanghais play as lively as ever again. The show people during the storm are mostly on their way to the hotel and reach the hostelry well drenched, but no one in the circus business ever dares to complain of the rain or else he will become known as a “dry weather showman,” a reputation no true follower of the red wagons courts. The long and heavy rain of the day produced very muddy lot and streets and the hauling of the heavy wagons and chariots back to the cars was accomplished with difficulty. No night show was given.
Chillicothe, Mo. Thursday, May 10th. Wabash Ry., 56 miles. Hotel Henrietta. Strong winds with fair weather. Heavy rain of yesterday causes some delay in the parade, and the side show, after its recent blow-down, is just got ready by a scratch. Afternoon house good. Night house good.
Hamilton, Mo. Friday, May 11th. C., B. &. Q. Ry., 26 miles. Hotel Hughes. Weather fine. Afternoon house big. Night house good. Lot close to town and railroad.
Leavenworth, Kan. Saturday, May 12th. C., B. & Q. Ry., 95 miles. Hotel Continental. Fine weather. Long haul to lot, which is U. S. Government land. Mr. Harrison, manager of Annex, is again with us. Mrs. West and Mrs. Leon are visited here by their father. Mr. Albert Parsons, manager of the refreshment stands, wears a midsummer smile, due to a combination of dust and heat that conspire with him to make big sales of lemonade. Packed afternoon and night houses, and many uniforms of both the U. S. Regulars and the G. A. R. Camps near here are seen in the audience. An ambitious farmer wants to purchase some of the eggs that will hatch out some of the chickens that “plays them ’ere fiddles and things.” J. S. Kritchfield, first cornet in the side show band, closed here. Matt Marshall taking his place. Elmer Pitts, tuba, paid a flying visit to his parents in Olathe, Kan., Chas. DeWitt taking his place temporarily. Mr. Hughes, one of the oldest circus men in the country, visits the show, and brings with him a show-bill printed on cloth which, on account of its age, is here given in full:
Hatty’s Circus Royal.
Royal Leamington Spa.
Monday next, August 26, 1839, is appointed for the benefit of Mr. Hughes, Manager. Under the following most distinguished patronage:
Lord Carnworth, Lord Churchill, Sir Margan Crofton, Admiral Christian, General Hodson, Major Hopkins, K. H., Major General Stewart, Captain Martin, Captain Maxwell, Henry Bradley, Esq., John Wingfield, Esq., N. Smith, Esq., J. Bicknell, Esq., J. Meridith, Esq., L. Middleton, Esq., J. Eaton, Esq., A. P. Middleton, Esq., J. S. Kirk, Esq., ----Powell. Esq., J. Franey, Esq., Dr. Jephson, Dr. Middleton, Dr. Lloyd, Dr. Luard, Dr. Williams, Dr. Franklin, Wm. Middleton, Esq., J. Hitchman, Esq., J. M. Cottle, Esq., J. Ewing, Esq., R. Jones, Esq., R. Robbins. Esq., D’Arcy Boulton, Esq., J. Prichard, Esq., J. Chapman, Esq., W. Watson, Esq., R. A. Bushy. Esq., J. Ebbage, Esq., Wm. Russell, Esq., Thos. Smallbone, Esq., A. Hames. Esq., and his Masonic brethren of Guy’s Lodge No. 556.
The Only Dress Box Night of the Season.
Mr. Hughes, with feelings of the highest gratitude for the many liberal and kind attentions conferred on his endeavors to please, as a caterer for the amusement of an enlightened public, such as Leamington can so proudly boast, assures his patrons, the nobility, gentry, and inhabitants generally, that he is preparing for this his benefit (and he owes a deep debt of gratitude to his friends for making the benefit of his previous visit the most productive of any since his last departure) a great treat for the above-mentioned evening, when every effort that ingenuity can devise, or industry accomplish, will be displayed for the gratification of those ladies and gentlemen who will honor him with their presence.
Mr. Hughes begs to remind the public that the confidential situation he holds as manager of the above Establishment guarantees the certainty of the performances being of a first-rate description, and he trusts that, as a benefit night, his friends, admirers, well-wishers and those who approve of the general character of the Establishment, will come forward to testify their approbation, and enable themselves to judge the rank he holds in public estimation; and, as the period now rapidly approaches for the commencement of the magnificent sports of Eglinton Castle, the interest excited by that approaching fete greatly enhances the curiosity of all parties to become acquainted with the secrets of equestrian equation, and as so much has been said in the public prints of the day with regards to the rehearsals of the Tournament, Mr. Hughes knows of no better way calculated to gratify his patrons on his benefit night than to produce the whole scene of
The Tournament, which will be brought forward so splendidly on that occasion, forming a grand chivalric equestrian spectacle, replete with Daring Feats of Arms, Sports oj the Olden Time, Ancient Tilt and Tournament. Together with every other incidental accompaniment connected with the above sports.
All the ladies of the Establishment will sustain characters in the above splendid spectacle. Several new acts will be introduced, for the particulars of which and all other detail see the bills of the day. G. C. Leibenrood, Printer, Courier Office, Leamington.
Topeka, Kan. Monday, May 14th. U. P. Ry., 62 miles. Hotel Commercial. Capital of State. Fine lot on Fair Grounds. Long haul and fine weather. The sun shines hot on Ringling Day. Sells & Rentfrow showed here two weeks ago. Their winter-quarters are located here. Afternoon house big, night house packed. Prof. Weldon’s band was tendered an invitation to the Sunday afternoon concert of Marshall’s Military Band at Lincoln Park. The boys all accepted, and were highly entertained, both musically and socially, by the members of this splendid musical organization. Matt and Wm. Marshall visited their uncle, who resides here.
Holton, Kan. Tuesday, May 15th. U. P. Ry., 128 miles. Hotel Teers. Good Fair Ground lot. Arrived late owing to long run. Wind is very strong to-day, even for Kansas. Enormous crowds come to visit the show, and it seems as if the winds blew them in. At the afternoon performance the audience filled the seats, and overflowed into the hippodrome track. A great many Indians are in the audience, and pronounce the verdict of “a heap big show.” Night house good.
Seneca, Kan. Wednesday, May 16th. K. C. W. & N. W. Ky., 35 miles. Hotels Cannon and Gilford. Fine lot, near town and railroad. Still they come. We certainly can not complain of our reception in Kansas, for the afternoon house was a “rouser,” and tested the capacity of our big tents to the utmost. Weather fine, night house good. First salary day of the season, and money circulates actively. Last stand in Kansas, and we leave the State with regret.
Beatrice, Neb. Thursday, May 17th. K. C. W. & N. W. Ry., 58 miles. Hotel Grand Central. Weather cooler, with heavy winds. Afternoon house good. Night house good. Evening performance was slightly hurried, and concert omitted, on account of very strong wind.
Tecumseh, Neb. Friday, May 18th. C. B. & Q. Ry., 35 miles. Hotel Bradley. Wind still blowing a gale. Afternoon and night houses good. One of the finest show lots ever used by a circus. Magnificent trees and running stream. Overcoats necessary to-day.
Falls City, Neb. Saturday, May 19th. C. B. & Q. Ry., 43 miles. Hotel Storns. Fine weather. New big top, menagerie and other tents are erected to-day. Packed afternoon house, big night house. Earl Way, band man, closed, Guy Guyman joining in his place.
Lincoln, Neb. Monday, May 21st. C. B. & Q. Ry., 92 miles. Capital of State. The show is a prime favorite here. Leman Bros, showed here ahead of us. Afternoon and night house packed. Chas. DeWitt visited by his uncle and aunt. Sid Lantz receives a pleasant visit from friends. A large body of Mystic Shriners attend the evening performance. They are attired in evening dress suits, and wear the emblematic fez, adorned with star, crescent and scimetar. The demonstration is in honor of the Ringling Bros., who are members of the Order. The Nobles are met at the entrance to the grounds by a drove of camels and a body of trumpeters, and escorted into the main tent, where they pass in review around the hippodrome track, to the deafening cheers of the multitude, and take seats in a space reserved for them. After the night performance a banquet is tendered to the Ringling Bros. by the Shriners of Sesostris Temple, at the Capitol Hotel. The following is the happy style of the menu card:
Sardines, Sphinx Shaped.
Desert Olives, Hot Stuff.
Rope Sandwiches, Slide Attachment.
Camel’s Liver, all American.
Dead Turkey, Carved Cimeter Style.
Crescent Chicken, Allah’s Best.
The Moslem Test.
Bow String Cake, Assorted, Twisted, Sculptured and Voluted.
Strawberries, Pomegranates and Ice Cream, fresh from Mecca.
Single Hump Fruit, Sesostris Brand.
Es Selamu Aleikum, with Fuz on it.
Nemesis Coffee, Double Strength.
A Few Blank Cartridges.
There was much speech-making. Mr. Bixby, Poet-Editor of the State Journal, read the following poem:
When first I knew the Ringling boys
I added something to their joys,
By putting up a modest sum
To hear them play the flute and drum,
And roll round plates on magic sticks
And do a lot of other tricks.
Long years have passed away since then,
I saw the Bengal tiger there,
O, well do I remember when,
By being blind I could not see
Again I rode the desert beast
Up half a mile - straight up - at least,
And that time when he let me drop
I thought, my soul. I’d never stop,
But wear my clothes out on the stones
And then start in on flesh and bones,
And at the bottom of the slope
Have nothing left except the rope.
But, laying to one side all jokes.
Now if some friend will fill my cup
Fremont, Neb. Tuesday, May 22d. F. E. & M. V. Ry., 52 miles. Hotels New York and Ruwe. Weather cloudy and light rain during the day. Town crowded with people to see our rain-or-shine parade. Afternoon house packed, night house big.
Norfolk, Neb. Wednesday, May 23d. F. E. & M. V. Ry., 80 miles. Hotel Reno. Winter quarters of the Hurlburt & Leftwich Show. Weather cloudy. Afternoon house big, night house good.
Blair, Neb. Thursday, May 24th. F. E. & M. V. Ry., 105 miles. Light rain in the morning, threatening wind. Afternoon house big, night house good. Lot near town and railroad. Last stand in Nebraska.
Avoca, Iowa. Friday, May 25th. F. E. & M. V. and C. St. P. M. & O. and C. R. I. & P. Rys., 63 miles. Hotel Mecanless. Small town on hillside, short haul to lot. Fine weather. Millard Neff, of the big band, visited by his brother.
Guthrie Centre, Iowa. Iowa. Saturday, May 26th. C. R. I. & P. Ry., 71 miles. Hotels Biggs and Hub. Weather hot. Lot on Fair Grounds. Afternoon house big, night house fair. Considered a “tough town,” and owing to previous altercations between circus employees and local toughs the respectable element, to some extent, shunned the night performance. We had no trouble of any kind, however, and arrived and departed as quietly as an Irishman at a colored cake-walk. The band boys met J. N. Shreves here, a member of Mr. Weldon’s band in ’91.
Des Moines, Iowa. Monday, May 28th. C. R. I. & P. Ry., 60 miles. Hotels Savary and Logan. First opposition of the season with the Sells Bros. Great 25-Cent Circus, but the “wait for low prices” seems to have no effect on the public. Show arrived early Sunday morning and thousands visited the grounds to see the big show in Sunday quarters. On Monday morning the streets were one mass of humanity, all waiting for the parade. The great procession appeared promptly on time and fairly dazzled the citizens and visitors of Iowa’s State capital. The hippopotamus smiled his best and the giant giraffe seemed to stretch his neck an additional foot. In spite of the fact that the big top had been enlarged for the occasion by the addition of an extra center-pole and many extra seats, it was utterly impossible, both at the afternoon and night performances, to furnish seats for all of the thousands, and many occupied standing room. The verdict of press and public was, “The best show ever in Des Moines.” New side show paintings arrived here and form an elegant front to the Annex. Fifteen exhibitions in the side show to superb crowds. Weather fine.
Grinnell, Iowa. Tuesday, May29th. C. R. I. & P. Ry., 55 miles. Hotels Pringhle and Grinnell. Weather line. Afternoon house good, night fair. The side show front has a brilliant effect and Col. Harrison smiles serenely at the brand-new paintings. “Did you ever hear a rooster play a fiddle?”
Marengo, Iowa. Wednesday, May 30th. C. R. I. & P. Ry., 35 miles. Hotels Clifton and Ketchem. Evidently Beach and Bowers own Marengo - at least they own a man who addressed the following to Mr. Barry Gray: “Be Beach and Bowers with ye?” Answer, “No. sir.” “Wall, then I don’t reckon yer’ll do much business.” His prediction was a poor one, for both performances were given to full houses.
Monroe, Iowa. Thursday, May 31st. C. R I & P. Ry., 73 miles. Hotel Miller. Weather hot. Long walk to hotel. Lot near railroad. Afternoon house good, night fair. Frank York purchased a new Diston cornet.
Indianola, Iowa. Friday, June 1st. C. R. I. & P Ry., 62 miles. Hotels Cottage and Vienna. Weather hot. Lot a mile and a half from railroad. Afternoon house packed, night house big.
Winterset, Iowa. Saturday, June 2d. C. R. I. & P. Ry., 35 miles. Hotel St. Nicholas. A crowd of towns-people and visitors who came down early to see the show come to town witnessed a rough-and-tumble fight between some of their number. This was at 4 A. M., pretty early for an impromptu settling of differences. Weather fine. Afternoon and night houses big.
Perry, Iowa. Monday, June 4th. C. R. I. & P. Ry., 76 miles. Hotel St. James. Weather very hot. Afternoon house big, night house good. Betra, Serpent Queen, taken sick, unable to work for to-day. The side show band took a backward fall from the elevated band stand, a distance of about six feet. Luckily no one was hurt. Some of the instruments were badly jammed.
Ford Dodge, Iowa. Tuesday, June 5th. C. R. I. & P. Ry., 54 miles. Hotel Park. Weather cool and pleasant. Afternoon house packed; night house big. Dobbins downs a pickpocket and turns him over to the city police. Side show does a big business.
Eagle Grove, Iowa. Wednesday, June 6th. M. C. & F. D. Ry., 19 miles. Hotels Revere and Clark’s Bakery. Fine weather. Railroad lot. Business both shows big.
Boone, Iowa. Thursday, June 7th. C. & N. W. Ry., 65 miles. Hotel Columbian. Weather fine. Afternoon and night business big. Dance pavilion adjoining show lot collapses and all the dancers do a “breakdown.”
Jefferson, Iowa. Friday, June 8th. C. & N. W. Ry., 29 miles. Hotels Davis and Stake. Weather fine. Afternoon house big; night house good. While en route to this place last night one of the property wagons caught fire and was almost totally destroyed. The fire was discovered in time to prevent its spreading and the fortunate nearness of a water-tank enabled employees and trainmen to extinguish the flames. Many of the performers lost valuable properties. It was a novel sight to see our train speeding along at the rate of twenty miles an hour while the large wagon was in flames. The band, under the direction of Prof. Wm. Weldon, visited the grave of our departed friend and brother showman, Yankee Robinson. Appropriate remarks were made and selections fitting to the occasion were rendered by the band.
Ida Grove, Iowa. Saturday, June 9th. C. & N. W. Ry., 69 miles. Hotel Farmers’ Home Weather fair, with heavy winds. Afternoon house big; night house good. Town situated in the famous corn belt of Iowa.
Onawa, Iowa. Monday, June 11th. C. & N. W. Ry., 43 miles. Hotels Onawa and Monona. After a quiet Sunday at this beautiful little town we resume our labors of another week. Afternoon attendance big; night fair. Quite a number of the band boys went to a small lake near here to fish yesterday. They returned in the evening, not with the usual fisherman’s luck, but with an abundance of the finny bass, pickerel and pike. The old adage, “there is no rose without a thorn,” was exemplified in this case by sun-burned faces and blistered hands. It was here that an organization that afterwards became famous was born. It was called the “Phosphate Club,” and no member was to be allowed to drink anything stronger than phosphate. Its officers were the following: President, Oscar Puckett; Vice-President, Grant Nichols; Secretary and Treasurer, Thomas Marshall. It had a membership of three. Its friends were legion, but its bitterest enemy was one Elmer E. Pitts.
Storm Lake, Iowa. Tuesday, June 12th. Ill. Cen. Ry., 61 miles. Hotel Park. This town is well deserving of its name. Every show that has been here for the past ten years has been blown down, and beyond that time history sayeth not. Although the wind was strong it failed to “shiver our timbers,” and Boss Canvasman Snellen smilingly remarked, “It never touched us.” Afternoon and night business good. Lot adjoining railroad and on bank of lake.
Sheldon, Iowa. Wednesday, June 13th. Ill. Cen. Ry., 52 miles. Hotels Ilowell and Sheldon. Cook & Whitby showed here June 4th, at 25 cents admission, to light business. Our business was wonderful. The house in the afternoon was virtually packed and at night the entire population, except three very old people and a few infants, were out to the circus.
Spencer, Iowa. Thursday, June 14th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 37 miles. Hotel Commercial. Weather very hot. A short haul to good grounds Afternoon house big; night house good. The ice-cream appetites are beginning to assert themselves.
Algona, Iowa. Friday, June 15th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 48 miles. Hotels Tenent and Hall. Lot two miles from railroad. Weather pleasant. Afternoon house packed; night house good. Side show did a wonderful business here. Heavy showers came up in the evening.
Mason City, Iowa. Saturday, June 16th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 52 miles. Hotel Slocum. A rainy, disagreeable day, particularly in the afternoon, when the anguish of the heavens seems to be the greatest. The tears of the morning are changed into pitchforks. The crowds, undaunted by the elements, and with the purpose long fixed in their minds of seeing the World’s Greatest Shows, turn out tremendously.
Winona, Minn. Monday, June 18th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 209 miles. Hotels, The Winona, Ludwig and Stovels. Show arrived quite early Sunday morning. Rain the night before has cooled the atmosphere and laid the dust, and the weather is ideal. It is well suited to the purpose of the “World’s Greatest,” which again must assume the somewhat easy task of putting a quietus to the vaporings of an ambitious but misguided rival, that has essayed to use the word wait in anything but a weighty way. The people of Winona are too wise, and lack the penuriousness, to wait for the mediocre, though cheap in price, but agree that the “best is always the cheapest,” as our half, whole and double-page advertisements in the newspapers have it. Afternoon house was packed, while the night house was the largest night business in the State of Minnesota this year. The Annex gave fifteen exhibitions. ’Rah! Mr. W. Reese, superintendent of wardrobe, took a trip to Fountain City, and returned a Benedict. The new Mrs. Reese was Miss Sadie Simmons, of Baraboo. They received the congratulations of the show folk at Winona Monday, and many and sincere were the expressions of good words and wishes of long years of happiness that were bestowed upon the happy couple.
Sparta, Wis. Tuesday, June 19th. C. & N. W. Ry., 51 miles. Hotel Ida House. Weather fine. Afternoon house big, night house good. Mr. E. Sells is a caller, also Messrs. H. Thorpe and Wm. Gorman. The show runs smoothly, with but one incident. Lundin’s plank breaks with twenty men on it, while he is supporting it on his chest. He stands the strain caused by the change of equilibrium, however, and the audience fairly goes wild with applause. Orrin Hollis is seen at his best.
Rochester, Minn. Wednesday, June 20th. C. & N. W. Ry., 50 miles. Hotels Merchants and Pierce. Weather fine. Afternoon house big, night house good. Al. Gillette sprains his ankle during the leaps, and will be laid up for a number of days. Heavy shower came up just as the last wagon was loaded on the lot. Thanks, Elements, you are sometimes kind to us.
Owatonna, Minn. Thursday, June 21st. C. & N. W. Ry., 40 miles. Hotel Kaplain. Heavy showers in the afternoon and evening. Afternoon house packed. Owing to a very-heavy wind-storm no night show was given. Reported havoc played by same storm to other shows now in this State.
Spring Valley, Minn. Friday, June 22d. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 56 miles. Hotels Valley and Shuster. Hot! Afternoon house packed. Night fairly good. Heavy wind and rainstorm at completion of show, but no damage done.
Albert Lea, Minn. Saturday, June 23d. C. & N. W. Ry., 51 miles. Hotel Gilbert. Still continues to threaten tornadoes, storms and cyclones, but they seem to look upon the show as too big a thing to tackle, and go around us. Professor Frank Hubin receives news here of the death of his brother, Mr. Wm. Gorman. Afternoon house big, night good.
Cresco, Iowa. Monday, June 25th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 69 miles. Hotel Strother. Rainy all day. Business in the afternoon is big and at night fair. One of the Japs fell from wire and was slightly injured.
West Union, Iowa. Tuesday, June 26th. B. C. R. & N. and C. M. & St. P. Rys., 49 miles. Hotels Lishers and Arlington. Rainy during day, but one of the big days in Iowa. Town is packed, jammed and loaded from cellar to garret, and from center to circumference with people, and they fill the tents. Messrs. Joseph and Louis Cass, and the Mesdames Cass and friends, were guests of the Ringling Brothers.
Decora, Iowa. Wednesday, June 27th. B. C. R. & N. Ry., 44 miles. Hotel Winneshiek. Weather very pleasant. Afternoon house packed, night good. Many of our people visit the famous ice cave.
Lansing, Iowa. Thursday, June 28th. B. C. R. & N. and C. M. & St. P. Rys., 76 miles. Hotel Dudley. Weather fine. Afternoon house packed. Night house big. An interesting exhibition of wrestling is given by Mike Rooney and Woody Gillette. The two young gladiators make the match more interesting to themselves by a five-dollar bet, while many on the outside stake numerous amounts on the result. Mr. Gillette was the winner.
Prairie Du Chien, Wis. Friday, June 29th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 31 miles. Motels City and Germania. Weather pleasant but hot. Afternoon house packed. Night house big. The ferries running between here and McGregor carried thousands of people over from Iowa to see the World’s Greatest Shows.
Richland Center, Wis. Saturday, June 30th. C. M & St. P. Ry., 70 miles. Motels Central and Merchants. Weather very hot. Afternoon house overflowing. Night house big. A running stream at the back of lot offered inducements that few of the male population of our great circus city could withstand and many took a dip into its liquid depths. During the leaps here, Mr. Wm. Leondor hurt his knee by the bursting of one of the smaller blood vessels in that member. Matt and Wm. Marshall were visited by their parents and by the wife of Wm. M. This is the home of Dick Booth, one of the corps of cornets in ’91.
Darlington, Wis. Monday, July 2d. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 138 miles. Weather cool and pleasant. Fine lot on Fair Ground. Afternoon house big; night house good. The home of Albert and Frank Parsons, and the lemonade, always good, is to-day superexcellent. It is quite a novelty to see a horny-handed son of toil or other acquaintance of the Parsons say, “Frank, gimme some lemonade.” “Here’s your change, Bill,” says Frank, and so the conversation continues all day long and at night the Messrs. Parsons know they have more friends than they ever thought they had.
Delevan, Wis. Tuesday, July 3d. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 103 miles. Hotel Park. Weather hot. Afternoon house good. Night house fair. Mrs. Shafer, wife of our Teutonic character impersonator, visits.
Oconomowoc, Wis. Wednesday, July 4th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 62 miles. Hotels Casper and Jones. The biggest day of the year, bigger than St. Patrick, Die Wacht am Rhine, Garibaldi, and a thousand others all put together, is ushered in with the brightest of bright summer weather. Red, white and blue everywhere. Countless flags decorate big-top, menagerie, museum, horse tents, cooking tents, and everybody with the show wears the national colors. Even the horses, ponies and donkeys have red, white and blue ribbons braided into their manes and tails.
“What constitutes a State?
Not high-raised battlements or labored mound,
Thick wall or moated gate;
Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned.
Not bays and broad-arm’d ports.
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;
Not starr’d and spangled courts,
Where low-brow’d baseness wafts perfume to Pride.
No: - men, high-minded men,
With powers as far above dull brutes endued,
In forest, brake, or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude;
These constitute a State.”
These and the small boys with the fire-cracker and the jolly Fourth “constitute a state,” and often two states, if we count the state of intoxication which often prevails along with the patriotism on this great day. But it was not so at “Cooney.” There was simply pure, unalloyed patriotism and the circus. There was a grand dinner at the cook house given to the employees of the show. Space forbids publishing the full bill of fare. It was a grand affair, however, and highly enjoyed by all, who voted Mr. Haley the prince of landlords. Many resorters from the hotels and cottages on the lake visited the show to-day. Among others, Mr. E. Kohl, who has one of the most beautiful summer residences on the pretty lake for which Oconomowoc is noted.
Orrin Hollis was to-day kicked by his horse, and rushed into the dressing-room exclaiming that the kick had landed just over the heart, but was assured that the heart was on the other side. Mrs. Fred. Madison was a visitor. Spencer Alexander left for home on account of sickness. P. M. Rice, tuba player, closed and Mont Billman took his place. Band marched from hotel to lot first time this season.
Beaver Dam, Wis. Thursday, July 5th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 98 miles. St. Charles Hotel. Weather fine. Afternoon and night business big. No Fourth of July celebration here yesterday, because the people postponed it to the 5th on account of the World’s Greatest Shows being here to-day.
Berlin, Wis. July 6th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 54 miles. Hotels City and Freiburgh. Same old story: afternoon house packed, night house big.
Portage, Wis. Saturday, July 7th. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 87 miles. Hotel, Emder House. Weather was very hot to-day. Afternoon house packed, night house big. Eighteen shows in the Annex. Many friends from Baraboo come over to see the show. This is the home of Thomas Marshall. G. F. Mitchell, the composer and arranger of “March, World’s Greatest,” used for tournament this season by Prof. Weldon, was a visitor.
Waupaca, Wis. Monday, July 9th. Wis. Cen. Ry., 100 miles. Hotel, Schmidt House. Weather hot, with light rains. Lot “way out” and sandy. Afternoon house packed, night house fair. Major Winner, the Midget, defies Beattie, of oratorical fame, to put his head in a bucket. Beattie proves himself equal to the occasion and the Major gets his bangs moistened. Did you ever?
Stevens Point, Wis. Tuesday, July 10th. Wis. Cen. Ry., 29 miles. Hotel Arlington. Weather very hot. Long haul to lot. Afternoon house big, night house good. After the show at night a summer-garden between lot and cars proves attractive to many, some of whom indulge in a cooling draught of foamy beverage. “One sip of this, Will bathe the drooping spirits in delight, Beyond the bliss of dreams.”
Medford, Wis. Wednesday, July 11th. Wis. Cen. Ry., 67 miles. Hotel, Manitowoc House. Weather very hot. Afternoon house big, night house fair. A throwing mule was added to our collection of trained animals here, and will henceforth have daily contests with Jones and Foley.
Eau Claire, Wis. Thursday, July 12th. Wis. Cen. Ry., 79 miles. Hotel, Gallway Mouse. Weather very hot. A small boy has his leg badly crushed while playing around the cars. Afternoon house good, night house good. Big business in side show.
Menomenee, Wis. Friday, July 13th. C. St. P. M. & O. Ry., 23 miles. Hotel Johnson. Afternoon house big, night house fair. Block, athlete, closes. It was darkly hinted that the limburger fiends of the band feasted here on their favorite dish.
Neilsville, Wis. Saturday, July 14th. C. St. P. M. & O. Ry., 53 miles. Hotel, O’Neil House. Again hot weather. Afternoon house good, night fair. Heavy showers in the afternoon. John Nelson, musician, was visited by his sister.
Ft. Atkinson, Wis. Monday, July 16th. C. St. P. M. & O. and C. & N. W. Rys., 190 miles. Hotel Higbee. It keeps on being hot. Afternoon house big, night good. Another one of our big town enters the unknown and mysterious land of matrimony. Mr. Charles Leondor and Miss May Stoll were married in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. West, a Presbyterian divine of this place officiating. This is the last stand in Wisconsin.
Woodstock, Ill. Tuesday, July 17th. C. & N. W. Ry., 59 miles. Hotel Woodstock. Weather red hot. Afternoon house good. No night show owing to long run ahead. Mr. Beattie, who has been absent for a few days, returns with his wife. Doc. Miller is visited by his sister; other visitors, Stick Davenport, Sig. Zano and L. Arnheim. In the band Fred. Raycloft closed.
Valparaiso, Ind. Wednesday, July 18th. C. & N. W. and Penn. Rys., 95 miles. Hotel Franklin. Weather red hot and still a-heatin’. Afternoon and night business good. Side show business big. Several Chicago visitors to-day. Mr. Gaylord. the famous traveler, explorer and zoologist, is here. He has brought with him a company of Singhalese, and exhibits them in the menagerie. Mr. Gaylor entertains his friends with interesting accounts of his experiences in remote and uncivilized lands.
Warsaw, Ind. Thursday, July 19th. Penn. Ry., 65 miles. Hotel White. Awfully hot. Afternoon house good, night house good. Shower about 5:00 P. M.
Huntington, Ind. Friday, July 20th. C. C. C. & St. L. and N. Y. L. E. & W. Rys., 40 miles. Hotel New Osborne. Weather still hot. Afternoon house good; night house good. Last stand in Indiana. Mr. Chas. W. Fish joined. Side show band invested in “blazers.” Clate Alexander visited friends.
Lima, Ohio. Saturday, July 21st. N. Y. L. E. & W. Ry., 75 miles. Hotel Northrop. Weather cool and pleasant. Afternoon house good, night house big. Mr. James Kincade visited. Mr. Orrin Hollis closed. Ed. Henderson was visited by his father.
Meadville, Pa. Monday, July 23d. N. Y. L. E. & W. Ry., 278 miles. Hotel Commercial. Weather cloudy. Light rains. Big business. Large crowds at depot yesterday on our arrival, and many complimentary comments are made by the citizens on the quiet and orderly manner in which our men perform their work. A by-stander remarks to another: “Say, John, this is a big trick, I never heard of it before, did you? “No,” was the reply, “where did it come from?” “Out west somewhere, I guess.” “Well, the United States is a thunderin’ big place after all.” Afternoon house fair. Night house fair. Big side show business. Press and public loud in praise of the show. Mr. Joe Lewis receives a visit from his wife and son. A new elephant joins the show, having been purchased by the Ringling Bros. from the defunct Wetter Show. Frank and Fred York, of our big band, meet relatives here.
Salamanca, N. Y. Tuesday, July 24th. N. Y. L. E. & W. Ry., 102 miles. Hotel Dudley. Considered a poor show town. Rain. Business good. First stand in New York.
Addison, N. Y. Wednesday, July 25th. N. Y. L. E. & W. Ry., 111 miles. Hotel American. Weather warm and sultry. Afternoon house good; night fair. Dance pavilion adjoining lot a la ye olden times.
Binghamton, N. Y. Thursday, July 26th. N. Y. L. E. & W. Ry, 87 miles. Exchange Hotel. Weather hot. Fine lot on Fair Grounds. Afternoon house good. Night house big. Eighteen shows in Annex. Dr. Snyder is the guest of the Ringling Brothers. The Doctor will remain for several weeks, and test circus life.
Carbondale, Pa. Friday, July 27th. D & H. Ry., 82 miles. Hotel Harrison. Weather hot. Longest, driest, dustiest haul from railroad to lot of the season. Afternoon house big. Night house big. Our special Pinkerton detective, Burt, has trouble here with a gang of fakirs who attempt a bluff, but are effectually driven out of town.
Wilkesbarre, Pa. Saturday, July 28th. D. & H. Ry., 38 miles Hotel Bristol. Weather hot. Afternoon house good. Night house fair. Papers all speak highly of show. People request a return date for next year, and promise a more than doubled patronage. Detective Burt again has difficulty in closing up a crowd of local fakirs.
Cooperstown, N. Y. Monday, July 30th. D. & H. and C. & C. V. Rys., 134 miles. Hotel Ballard. Weather cool, owing to heavy rains yesterday. The show grounds previously secured were unfit for use, and the show was moved on Monday morning to the Fair Grounds. Many of our people took a ride on the beautiful Lake Otsego. In the little Episcopal church-yard here lie the remains of the famous American writer of marine and Indian stories, James Fenimore Cooper. Cooperstown is an indescribably beautiful village. Its people are cultured and refined, truly hospitable and open-hearted. There is a home-like tranquility about the place, and a touch of nature, that makes one wonder if indeed it is not Nature’s birth-place for poets. The pretty homes of the inhabitants, the magnificent shade trees, the surrounding hills and Otsego Lake, called “The Glimmer-glass,” all combine to impress the stranger with a feeling of enchantment. But most fascinating of all is Otsego Lake. Mr. Shaw, the editor of the Freeman’s Journal, to whom the author is indebted for a most interesting book entitled, “History of Cooperstown,” thus quotes:
“O’er no sweeter lake
Shall morning break, or noon-cloud sail;
No fairer face than thine shall take,
The sunset’s golden veil.”
“Thy peace rebuke our feverish stir.
Thy beauty our deforming strife;
Thy woods and waters minister The healing of their life.”
The show did a splendid business in Cooperstown. both afternoon and night. The side-show band took another drop from their elevated perch, and Nelson’s slide trombone was mashed. There was no fine for mashing this time.
Cobleskill, N. Y. Tuesday. July 31st. C. & C. V. and D. & H. Rys., 46 miles. Hotel Augustus. Fine weather. Beautiful lot on Fair Grounds. Afternoon house packed; night house good. Sixteen shows in Annex. Old lady remarks: “ I’m seventy years old, but this is the best show ever through here.” Mr. Puckett received new French horn here.
Albany, N. Y. Wednesday, August 1st. D. & H. Ry., 45 miles. Hotel Columbian. Weather hot. Streets crowded to see our mammoth parade. Night house as well as afternoon house packed. The Argus, Journal, Times-Union and Post all praise the show unstintedly. All agree that it is the finest show ever in the State capital.
Saratoga, N. Y. Thursday, August 2d. D. & H. Ry., 39 miles. Hotel Noonan. Weather rainy during day. Afternoon house good; night house fair. Many visitors here from New York City. Will Likings and Ed. Stevens, popular in theatrical circles, were visitors.
Glen Falls, N. Y. Friday, August 3d. D. & H. Ry., 22 miles. Globe Hotel. Cooler weather and light rains. Afternoon house big and night house good.
Plattsburg, N. Y. Saturday, August 4th. D & H. Ry., 117 miles. Valley House, Beautiful town situated on Lake Champlain. Weather cool and fair. Afternoon house big; night house good. We leave New York for two weeks’ sojourn in Vermont. Frank York, solo cornet, receives instructions here from the main cornet player of a “neighborin’ town band.”
Rutland, Vt. Monday, August 6th. D. & H. Ry., 114 miles. Bates House. Picturesque city near the famous Green Mountains. Weather pleasant. Afternoon house packed; night house packed. Heavy excursion business. Thousands to-day heard the rooster “play a fiddle.” Mr. Shumway, City Editor of the Daily Herald here, bestowed warm words of praise on the World’s Greatest Show. The writer had a very pleasant visit with Mr. Shumway and with a mutual friend from Munich, Mr. Augustiner. Dr. Snyder terminated his visit here after several days of circus life.
Bennington, Vt. Tuesday, August 7th. B. & R. Ry., 57 miles. Cottage Hotel. Weather pleasant, with light showers in the evening. Afternoon house big; night house good. Matimota, of Akimota Japanese troupe, hurt by falling from wire.
Middlebury, Vt. August 8th. B. & R. and Cent. Vt. Rys., 89 miles. Logan House. Weather cool; rain. Afternoon house big; night fair. Dudes and dudines attend on hay wagons. They try to disturb the show by blowing horns, but by request of several muscular-looking gentlemen stop their giddy hilarity.
Burlington, Vt. Thursday, August 9th. Cent. Vt. Ry., 35 miles. American House. Rainy in the morning. Afternoon and night business both very big. Eighteen shows in Annex. Show made a great hit in Vermont’s metropolis.
Barre, Vt. Friday, August 10th. Cent. Vt. Ry., 46 miles. Avenue House. Weather cool and fair. Bad lot, covered with springs and bogs. Afternoon house packed; night big.
West Randolph, Vt. Saturday, August 11th. Cent. Vt. Ry., 39 miles. Hotel Red Lion Inn. Weather cool. Small town, but they come from all directions. Afternoon house big; night house fair. Charles Myers, cornet player, closed. L. P. Williams, musician, joined.
White River Junc., Vt. Monday, August. 13th. Cent. Vt. Ry., 33 miles. Hotel, Junction House. Small town, but great railroad center and big excursion business. Afternoon house packed; night business good. A train of U. S. infantry on their way to camp stop off and view the parade. Nelson, trombonist, receives a new set of slides. Prof. Weldon highly complimented by the famous composer and arranger, Fred. G. Binus. Johnnie Rooney and John Engel, in their Shetland pony against horse race, collide and narrowly escape a serious accident.
St. Johnsbury, Vt. Tuesday, August 14th. B. & M. Ry., 51 miles. Hotel, Cottage House. Weather warm. Afternoon house packed, night house good. Street parade made a great hit.
The Circus-Day Parade, By James Whitcomb Riley.
Oh! the circus-day parade! How the bugles played and played!
And how the glossy horses tossed their flossy manes and neighed,
As the rattle and the rhyme of the tenor-drummer’s time
Filled all the hungry hearts of us with melody sublime!
How the grand band-wagon shone with a splendor all its own,
And glittered with a glory that our dreams had never known!
And how the boys behind, high and low of every kind,
Marched in unconscious capture with a rapture undefined!
How the horsemen, two and two, with their plumes of white and blue,
And crimson, gold and purple, nodding by at me and you,
Waved the banners that they bore, as the knights in days of yore,
Till our glad eyes gleamed and glistened like the spangles that they wore!
How the graceless-graceful stride of the elephant was eyed.
And the capers of the little horse that cantered at his side!
How the shambling camels, tame to the plaudits of their fame,
With listless eyes came silent, masticating as they came!
How the cages jolted past, with each wagon battened fast,
And the mystery within it only hinted of at last
From the little grated square in the rear, and nosing there
The snout of some strange animal that sniffed the outer air.
And, last of all, the clown, making mirth for all the town,
With his lips curved ever upward and his eye-brows ever down,
And his chief attention paid to the little mule that played
A tattoo on the dashboard with his heels, in the parade.
Oh! the circus-day parade!
How the bugles played and played!
And how the glossy horses tossed their flossy manes and neighed,
As the rattle and the rhyme of the tenor drummer’s time
Filled all the hungry hearts of us with melody sublime!
Newport, Vt. Wednesday, August 15th. B. & M. Ry., 45 miles. Hotel, Newport House. Heavy rains all day. Long haul. Races on Fair Grounds are postponed. Afternoon house packed and hundreds of people turned away. Night house light, owing to heavy rains.
Richford, Vt. Thursday, August 16th. C. P. Ry., 31 miles. Hotel, Union House. Weather cool and pleasant. Afternoon house packed, night house good.
St. Albans, Vt. Friday, August 17th. Cen. Vt. Ry., 28 miles. Hotel Grand Central. Weather fine. Good lot. Afternoon house packed, night house big. Eighteen shows in Annex. We leave the old Granite State with regret, carrying with us not only many round and shining dollars, but a pleasant memory of the hearty reception and friendly treatment accorded us by its hospitable people.
Malone, N. Y. Saturday, August 18th. Cen. Vt. Ry., 142 miles. Hotel Cushman. Light rains. Afternoon house packed, night house good. Fourteen shows in Annex. Old gentleman, 74 years of age, walks 18 miles to see the show.
Ogdensburg, N. Y. Monday, August 20th. Cen. Vt. Ry., 61 miles. Hotel Windsor. Beautiful town on St. Lawrence River. Weather cool and cloudy. Afternoon house packed, night house big. Seventeen shows in Annex. Opposition side show cuts no figure.
Potsdam, N. Y. Tuesday, August 21st. Cen. Vt. Ry., 44 miles. Hotel Windsor. Weather cool and pleasant. Afternoon house packed, night house big. Burt True received a new set of slides.
Gouverneur, N. Y. Wednesday, August 22d. R. W. & O. Ry., 34 miles. Hotel, Peck House. Weather fine. Afternoon house packed, night house big.
Lowville, N. Y. Thursday, August 23d. R. W. & O. Ry., 47 miles. Hotel Kellogg. Weather warm. Afternoon house same old story, night fair.
Watertown, N. Y. Friday, August 24th. R. W. & O. Ry., 34 miles. Hotel, Crowher House. Weather fine. Afternoon house big; night house big. Twenty shows in Annex. Show visited at night by a hundred Shriners in fez and evening dress.
Oswego, N. Y. Saturday, August 25th. R. W. & O. Ry., 61 miles. Hotel Lake Shore. Weather fine. Big Firemen’s Tournament here all week. Large number of visiting fire laddies remain over and see the show. Parade makes a great impression. Afternoon house big, night house good. George S. Cole, George H. Irving and Charles Evans, of the Cole & Lockwood Show, visited.
Oneida, N. Y. Monday, August 27th. N. Y. O. & W. Ry., 57 miles. Hotel Allen. Weather fine. Beautiful town. Afternoon house good, night house fair.
Norwich, N. Y. Tuesday, August 28th. N. Y. O. & W. Ry., 42 miles. Hotel, Palmer House. Afternoon house packed, night good. Eighteen shows in Annex. Weather cool and pleasant.
Walton, N. Y. Wednesday, August 29th. N. Y. O. & W. Ry., 46 miles. Hotel. Walton House. Weather cloudy. Afternoon house packed, night good.
Liberty, N. Y. Thursday, August 30th. N. Y. O. & W. Ry., 61 miles. Weather cloudy. Pretty town. Lot way up hill. Afternoon house packed, night fair. Many summer boarders visit.
Ellenville, N. Y. Friday, August 31st. N. Y. O. & W. Ry., 29 miles. Hotel Russell. Weather fine. Beautiful town at the foot of magnificent hills. Opposition here. Afternoon house good; night big.
Walden, N. Y. Saturday, Sept. 1st. N. Y. O. & W. and W. V. Rys., 42 miles. Hotel Eagle. Weather fine. Two miles from railroad to town. Afternoon house very light; night big. Mr. Harrison and wife left to visit Walter L. Main Show. Francesco Cartado and Aberlardo Lowande, the former a circus manager in Cuba and the latter a rider, visited here. Walter L. Main visited.
Poughkeepsie, N. Y. Monday, Sept. 3d. P. R. & N. E. Ry., 21 miles. Sweet & Grisard Restaurant. Afternoon house big; night good. Mrs. Walter Main visited the show, also W. Fred Aymar, Geo. L. Bickel, Kennard Bros., Ed. Billings (little Willie Green), Stirk and Zeno, Wm. Fay, T. Ford and others. There were also numerous visitors from the Adam Forepaugh show. Among them, W. F. Wallet, H. Amphlet, Vernon Bros., John Purvis, Tan Zabra and Nankee. Frank Ashton and Den Powell were also visitors to-day. Phosphate Club, composed of musicians, dissolved here.
Winstead, Conn. Tuesday, Sept. 4th. P. R. & N. E. Ry., 80 miles. Central Hotel. Weather cloudy. Afternoon house big; night fair. Mr. W. W. Cole visited.
Millerton, N. Y. Wednesday, Sept. 5th. P. R. & N. E. Ry., 33 miles. Central House. Weather hot. Afternoon house big; night good.
Hudson, N. Y. Thursday, Sept, 6th. P. R. & N. E. and N. Y. C. Rys., 68 miles. Hotel Waldron. Weather hot. Business of the day good.
Fort Plain, N. Y. Friday, Sept. 7th. N. Y. C. Ry., 92 miles. Hotel Union. Business good. Weather pleasant. Ten more days and we will be in Michigan.
Herkimer, N. Y. Saturday, Sept. 8th. N. Y. C. Ry., 23 miles. Hotel Nelson. Heavy shower in morning hurt parade. Afternoon house good. Heavy storm about 7:30 P. M. hurt night house, but they came in fair numbers.
Weedsport, N. Y. Monday, Sept. 10th. N. Y. C. Ry., 78 miles. Hotels Central Park and Willard. Heavy rains all day. Afternoon house good; night good. Many barrels of gasoline and hundreds of pounds of paraffine used here in waterproofing canvas. Wm. Irwin visited friends and relatives at Buffalo yesterday.
Geneva, N. Y. Tuesday, Sept. 11th. N. Y. C. Ry., 39 miles. Hotels Kirkwood and Franklin. Afternoon house good; night good. Weather cool and pleasant.
Honeoye Falls, N. Y. Wednesday, Sept. 12th. N. Y. C. Ry., 40 miles. Hotel Wilcox. Afternoon house good; night house fair. Weather cool and pleasant.
Leroy, N. Y. Thursday, Sept. 13th. N. Y. C. Ry., 21 miles. Hotel Lampson. Afternoon house big; night big. Forepaugh Show billed in opposition.
Medina, N. Y. Friday, Sept. 14th. N. Y. C. Ry., 77 miles. Hotel White. Showers during day. Afternoon house good; night house fair.
Niagara Falls, N. Y. Saturday, Sept, 15th. N. Y. C. Ry., 37 miles. Hotel Atlantique. Weather fair. Afternoon house big. At about 6:30 P. M. a heavy rain and wind-storm struck us. It lifted up the big-top a hundred feet into the air, and laid it down again badly torn. Luckily no one was injured. Had the storm occurred an hour later the results must have been terrible, for by that time the crowds, which promised to be large, would have been under the main tent. No night show was given. Mr. Brown and Mr. Harrison were callers to-day. L. Arnheim, the tailor, and assistant, arrived to take orders for clothing. They will remain several days.
Wm. Marshall, clarionet, closed. Wm. Thormann joined. Just as Prof. Weldon was about to start the overture in the afternoon, Oscar Puckett attracted his attention, and in the following words presented him a medal:
“Professor Weldon, on behalf of the members of your band, allow me to present to you this medal as a souvenir of our respect and good feeling toward you. We present you this token with the hope that should the world in after years turn toward you its dark, gloomy and dismal side, thereby tempting you to forget that you are a man in man’s high estate, look at this, and the memories that it will bring back to your mind will sustain and buoy you up - aye! may incite you to greater and better things. We present to you this little proof of our regard, hoping that the faces of the band of 1894 will linger long in your memory, and if in any of your reveries any of our shortcomings are remembered, think of them with all the charity you can, and remember that beneath all there was nothing but good feeling and friendship toward you.”
The medal is of gold, the bar representing an open music book, and engraved diagonally across in black enamel is the name, “W. F. Weldon.” Suspended from this by two gold chains is a lyre-shaped pendant of two colors of gold. On it the following words are engraved: “Presented to Wm. F. Weldon, Director of Ringling Bros. World’s Greatest Circus Band, by Members of the Band, Niagara Falls, N. Y., Sept. 15, 1894.” This is enclosed by a wreath of green and gold. Midway between the bar and pendant is interlaced a miniature cornet, of gold.
The surprise was complete, and the time for the overture so near, that Prof. Weldon could do nothing but tell the boys to wait for him until after the show, when he would have a supper prepared for them. The repast was a bountiful one, and enjoyed by all present.
Lapeer, Mich. Monday, Sept. 17th. Mich. Cen. Ry., 289 miles. Hotel Abram. Weather fine. Afternoon house packed. Night house big. Cook & Whitby Circus billed here for to-morrow. Mr. James Hamilton, general agent of the above show, visits; also Mr. Fifenberger, formerly with the World’s Greatest, and the clever Jap performer Fugona.
Ypsilanti, Mich. Tuesday, Sept. 18th. M. C. Ry., 90 miles. Hotel Hawkins. Weather pleasant. Afternoon and night houses big. Arnheim, the tailor, leaves for Chicago, taking with him orders for over 150 suits, and overcoats and trousers without number.
Hastings, Mich. Wednesday, Sept, 19th. Mich. Cent. Ry., 106 miles. American House. Weather pleasant. Afternoon house big; night good. Nineteen shows in Annex.
Charlotte, Mich. Thursday, Sept. 20th. Mich. Cent. Ry., 28 miles. Palace Cafe. Weather fine. Afternoon house big; night big. Fine lot on Fair Grounds. Dr. L. M. Gillette, brother of Al. Gillette, visited.
Three Rivers, Mich. Friday, Sept. 21st. Mich. Cent. Ry., 98 miles. Hotels Three Rivers and Central. Weather fine. Afternoon house big; night house good. Pole wagon breaks through bridge on way to train at night, the team becomes frightened, runs away and a fine gray horse is killed. Band man Burt True closes suddenly.
Dowagiac, Mich. Saturday, Sept. 22d. Mich. Cent. Ry., 53 miles. Hotel Elkerton. Rainy in morning; clearing at noon. Fine lot on Fair Grounds. Afternoon house big; night house good. Mrs. Jules Turnour and children visit. Friends of Wm. Vogt visit. York Brothers were visited by their mother here.
Clinton, Ill. Monday, Sept. 24th. Ill. Cent, and Mich. Cent. Rys., 213 miles. Weather fine. Afternoon house big; night house good. Several of the boys spent Sunday in Chicago. Band notes - Guy Guyman. cornet, closed. Ben Bergman, cornet, joined.
Tuscola, Ill. Tuesday, Sept. 25th. Ill. Cent. Ry., 61 miles. Weather cool and pleasant. Afternoon house big; night good. “Oh! dat watermelon.” Wagon loads of them at five cents each. Gustave Gebert, trombonist, joined.
Effingham, Ill. Wednesday, Sept, 26th. Ill. Cent. Ry., 50 miles. Weather pleasant. Afternoon house big; night good. Bass drummer Sid. Lantz visited his parents at Shelbyville.
Sullivan, Ill. Thursday, Sept. 27th. Ill. Cent, and Wab. Rys., 37 miles. Weather hot. Fine lot on Fair Grounds. Afternoon house big; night house good.
Attica, Ind. Friday, Sept, 28th. Wabash Ry., 102 miles. Weather warm. Afternoon house big; night big. A splendid sulphur spring flows by the side-show tent and one of the boys soaks his feet in the water for several hours, thinking thus to rid himself of corns. Mr. and Mrs. Weigel of Cincinnati visit their brother, Fred Howe, of “Me and Him” fame.
Champaign, Ill. Saturday, Sept. 29th. Wabash Ry., 63 miles. Afternoon house big; night good. A large delegation of students from the Illinois State University attend show at night.
Pittsfield, Ill. Monday, Oct. 1st. Wabash Ry., 67 miles. Weather pleasant. Afternoon house packed; night house good.
Mount Sterling, Ill. Tuesday, Oct. 2d. Wabash Ry., 44 miles. Afternoon house packed; night house good. Weather very hot.
Rood House, Ill. Wednesday, Oct. 3d. C. & A. and Wab. Rys., 61 miles. Weather warm. Fine lot. Afternoon house big, night house good.
Jerseyville, Ill. Thursday, Oct. 4th. C. & A. Ry., 31 miles. Weather pleasant. Business big. First time the show has been here since 1889.
Belleville, Ill. Friday, Oct. 5th. C. & A. and C. S. L. Rys., 57 miles. About seven miles from Jerseyville the engine broke down. After a long delay we arrived at 1:30 P. M. Parade at 2:30 and show started at 3:30. Afternoon house good, night good. Stella, one of the Japanese troupe, fell and had her arm broken, which will prevent her from working for some time. Among the visitors were Mr. Benjamin Harrison, the father of Mr. Hugh Harrison, and William De Vaux, brother of Mrs. Gray. Weather cool.
Murpheysboro, Ill. Saturday, Oct. 6th. C. S. L. Ry., 57 miles. Arrived late. Parade at 11 A. M. An opposition side show cuts no figure and our attendance is enormous. Afternoon house big, night good. Weather hot.
Cape Girardeau, Mo. Monday, Oct. 8th. C. & T. Ry., 57 miles. Weather fine. Afternoon house packed, night packed. The Dacomas, aerialists, join here. Prof. Weldon’s band plays “Dixie,” and we begin to realize that we are getting into the “Sunny South.”
Paragould, Ark. Tuesday, Oct. 9th. St. L. C. G. & Ft. S. and Cotton Belt Rys., 111 miles. A long run over heavy grades and some bad track, so we do not arrive until 11:15 A. M. Every one hustles, however, and the big parade gets out by 1:30 P. M. Show begins at 3:30. Afternoon house good, night fair. Dust was a foot thick here.
Newport, Ark. Wednesday, Oct. 10th. Iron Mountain Ry., 85 miles. Lot over a mile out on Fair Grounds. Nothing but dust. Dust also gets into the ticket wagon, but it is the kind of dust we all like. No night show here owing to a long run ahead. Big afternoon house. My, how those colored folks did come!
Prescott, Ark. Thursday, Oct. 11th. Iron Mountain Ry., 179 miles Weather hot. Very dusty. Afternoon house big. No night show owing to long run ahead. Had “bahbacue poke” to-day.
Sulphur Springs, Tex. Friday, Oct. 12th. I. M. and C. B. Kys., 148 nniles. Weather “awfully hot.” Afternoon house packed, night house big. Sells Bros. Circus in opposition here. Many of us are taking hypophosphite on account of sudden change in climate. Hubin refuses to eat ’possum when chickens roost so low. Our first stand in Texas is a corker. People here are overcome with the magnitude and merit of the World’s Greatest Shows, and welcome the change from the inferior concerns that have been playing this region so long. A native Texan expressed himself in this way to-day. Said he: “We have been so long fed on the scanty crumbs of amusement that we recognize a full meal when it is offered us.”
Greenville, Tex. Saturday, Oct. 13th. Cotton Belt Ry., 33 miles. Weather hot. Afternoon house packed, night big. Empty tea bottles are very numerous around the grounds. Water is scarce here, still the supply seems to exceed the demand. Our second stand in the State is another decided victory for the Big Show. But then the opposition is easy for us.
Dallax, Tex. Monday, Oct. 15th. M. K. & T. Ry., 54 miles. Weather fine. Lot about a mile and one-half from cars. There seems to be an impression that “as goes Dallas so goes Texas,” and “our friend, the enemy,” to use a politician’s phrase, are putting forth their best endeavors to keep up to our pace. We are, however, a trifle too swift for them. “It never rains but what it pours,” is, perhaps, a homely old saying, but my, how true it proved at Dallas! It was not a rain of the elements but a rain of the population, and it rained many more thousands than could be got under our mammoth tents. This, in spite of the fact that extension seats had been attached to the regular ones, the big-top enlarged, and hay spread upon the hippodrome track and thousands seated upon the ground. At 1:30 the doors to the show had to be closed, and even then the crowd was so dense inside the tents that 1,900 people were given their money back or tickets to the night show, just because they could not find a niche or crevice of sitting or standing room to crawl into. At night the scene of the afternoon was again enacted, and the great crowds clamored by the thousands for admission long after the doors had been closed. It was, by far, the greatest business ever done by a circus in Dallas, and as this was the battle-ground on which the victory must be decided, our side (the winning side, of course.) was naturally pleased.
Weatherford, Tex. Tuesday, Oct. 16th. T. & P. Ry., 63 miles. Weather very hot. Lot about one mile from cars. Afternoon house packed; night good.
Fort Worth, Tex. Wednesday. Oct. 17th. T. & P. Ry , 31 miles. More hot weather. Afternoon house packed. Night house packed again. Twenty-five shows in Annex. Mrs. Tom Thumb Co. visit show. New route-card appeared to-day, with the last stand marked on it. This was another stand where our opposition put forth its greatest possible endeavors, but results tell against them.
Gainesville, Tex. Thursday, Oct. 18th. M. K. & T. Ry., 86 miles. Weather hot, dusty and windy. Afternoon house overflowing. Night house ditto. Texas is great, so is the World’s Greatest. The opposition becoming desperate. They are now trying to dam up the stream of popularity that is pouring our way without the use of the d--n their exasperated condition has led them to use in the past. One of the dignified proprietors of our worthy would-be rivals rode ahead of our parade to-day, announcing a balloon ascension to take place near the railroad depot on Broad-way at one o’clock. As a pretty and fragrant memento of this happy moment in the life of our esteemed and far-seeing rival, we arranged with a local photographer to take a picture of the imposing sight, and instructed him to so focus his instrument that not one solitary individual of the many thousands who of course(?) would gather to see the magnificent sight would be missed in the picture. Well did he do his work, and that there may be no dispute when this rich joke is talked about in the future.
Sherman, Tex. Friday, Oct. 19th. M. K. & T. Ry., 51 miles. Weather hot. Afternoon house big. Night house big. Balloon tries to go up again to-day, but owing to high wind the old man, little boy and stray yellow dog that came to see it were disappointed, and the balloon did not go up.
Denison, Tex. Saturday, Oct. 20th. M. K. & T. Ry., 11 miles. Weather warm. Lot in town. Afternoon and night business very big. Rain at night, after the tents have been packed however.
Waxahachie, Tex. Monday, Oct. 22d. M. K. & T. Ry., 136 miles. Arrived in town early Sunday. One of the cook-tent employees fell from a flat-car, and had his hand crushed under one of the wheels of the car, necessitating amputation. He was sent to the hospital at Dallas, and cared for. Thirty thousand people attend the show here to-day, twenty-five thousand at the two afternoon performances, and five thousand more at night. Opposition too.
Hillsboro, Tex. Tuesday, Oct. 23d. M. K. & T. Ry., 35 miles. Weather hot. Afternoon house big. Night house big. It is a regular occurrence for us to seat them on the hippodrome track every day, and to put in extra seats. They fill the big tents right along.
Waco, Tex. Wednesday, Oct. 24th. M. K. & T. Ry., 35 miles. Weather hot. Big. packed, overflowing houses, afternoon and night. Fine town. Crowds are so enormous here that street car company handles them with great difficulty.
Temple, Texas. Thursday, Oct. 25th. M. K. & T. Ky., 35 miles. Weather hot. The same Texas business that we have done every day since coming into the State; packed in the day and packed at night. Gov. Hogg visited show here.
Bastrop, Texas. Friday, Oct. 26th. M. K. & T. Ry., 74 miles. Fair business afternoon and night. Weather still hot. No opposition here and business consequently not so big as it has been.
La Grange, Texas. Saturday, Oct. 27th. M. K. & T. Ry., 34 miles. Weather hot. Business big. Only three more weeks and we will arrive at the season’s closing day.
San Marcos, Texas. Monday, Oct. 29th. M. K. & T. Ry., 72 miles. We are nearing the border of Mexico and can see the signs of a foreign country near us. Chili con carne stands very numerous. Mexican hats conspicuous. Business big day and night.
San Antonio, Texas. Tuesday, Oct. 30th. I. & G. N. Ry., 50 miles. Weather cool. Business big day and night. The ticket wagon had to be closed both afternoon and night. Thousands were turned away. The last big gun of the opposition campaign was fired here by the exposure of our rivals’ paid puffs in the form of telegraphic dispatches. Texas is holding out all along the line.
Austin, Texas. Wednesday, Oct 31st. I. & G. N. Ry., 81 miles. Business big in the afternoon and big at night. The State capital city is in line with all the rest of our opposition stands. Weather windy and dusty.
Taylor, Texas. Thursday, Nov. 1st. I. & G. N. Ry., 36 miles. Big business day and night. Rain at night.
Hearne, Texas. Friday, Nov. 2d. I. & G. N. Ry., 55 miles. Weather hot. Big afternoon house. No night show.
Palestine, Texas. Saturday, Nov. 3d. I. & G. N. Ry., 90 miles. Weather hot. Business big. Two more weeks and the band will play “Home, Sweet Home.”
Henderson, Tex. Monday, Nov. 5th. I. & G. N. Ry., 75 miles. Business continues big. To-day the crowds were enormous. Fifteen miles of bad railroad track coming here. No night show given.
Longview, Tex. Tuesday, Nov. 6th. I. & G. N. Ry., 38 miles. Weather fine. Business big both day and night. This is our last stand in Texas, and we leave the State carrying with us not only thousands of dollars gained in the enormous business transacted, but also a pleasant recollection of the ovation we have received on this our first trip to the Lone Star State.
Shreveport, La. Wednesday, Nov. 7th. T. & P. Ry., 63 miles. Big business.
Monroe, La. Thursday, Nov. 8th. Q. & C. Ry., 96 miles. Sam Jones, the evangelist, preaches here. A saloon-keeper, converted by Jones’ eloquence, is busy pouring out his whisky and the colored population are busy catching it in buckets and tin pans.
Vicksburg, Miss. Friday, Nov. 9th. Q. & C. Ry., 77 miles. Big hill makes parade hard. Business big.
Greenville, Miss. Saturday, Nov. 10th. Y. & M. V. Ry., 83 miles. Big business. Blacks predominate.
Natchez, Miss. Monday, Nov. 12th. Y. & M. V. Ry., 161 miles. Packed business.
Jackson, Miss. Tuesday, Nov. 13th. Y. & M. V. Ky., 98 miles. Afternoon house big; night house fair. Rain started at 12 M. and continued until show was loaded at night.
Yazoo City, Miss. Wednesday, Nov. 14th. Ill. Cen. Ry., 46 miles.
Greenwood, Miss. Thursday, Nov. 15th. Ill. Cen. Ry., 52 miles. Big business.
Kosciusko, Miss. Friday, Nov. 16th. Ill. Cen. Ky., 73 miles. Big business in afternoon; storm at night. No night show.
Water Valley, Miss. Saturday, Nov. 17th. Ill. Cen. Ry., 104 miles. The band has played “Home, Sweet Home.” We have traveled together from the 28th of April until the 17th of November. We have traveled over 12,500 miles, or one half the distance around the world. From East to West our route has extended from several hundred miles west of the Missouri River to the New England States, and from North to South we have traveled from the most northern to the most southern States of the Union. We have played 175 stands and have been out 205 days. The show returns to Winter-quarters at Baraboo, Wis., via the Ill. Cen. and C. & N. W. Ry?., 752 miles No night show was given here and everybody was enabled to take the most convenient trains for their several destinations. The first section left at 9:30 P. M. and the other sections followed a few hours later. The show arrived at Baraboo, Winter-quarters, Tuesday afternoon at one o’clock. The homeward trip was free from any mishaps and everything was placed in Winter-quarters in excellent condition.
Next to that tenderest, sweetest and most revered of all words, “mother,” the word “home ” has an abiding-place in every human breast. The simple words of that talented playwright, player, poet and scholar, John Howard Payne, “Home, Sweet Home,” embody a world of affection, and call forth from the most inmost recesses of our hearts a welling flow of tenderness and love. “Home!” that one spot in all this cheerless world to which we ever turn to find comfort for our sorrow, solace for our pain; the spot where our hearts are ever, be we ourselves where we may. Whether the season be long or short, go we North, South, East or West, our eyes and our hearts, if not our lips, are ever crying “Home.”
Ah! how little reck those, who have happy, cheerful homes and firesides, of the blessing which is theirs! How little they know of the heart-burnings of those who have no place to call home, but are wanderers, like derelict ships on the great sea of life, the victims of wind and tide and treacherous wave! How little do they dream of the more unfortunate still, who, having had homes and erstwhile loved ones in them, will return at the end of the season to find them no more, alas! forever; but to find in their stead ruined altars wherein has been burned to ashes all their hopes, all the brightness of their lives gone out, and their anticipated pleasures but a hollow mockery.
“The saddest words of tongue or pen, Are these sad words, &‘It might have been.’”
So sang Mrs. Hemans - so sighs the world. “Home, Home, Sweet Home.” The season is over; another cycle has been marked off on the dial of time; another season of joy and sorrow, of pain and pleasure. The last leap has been made, the last gong has been rung, the last stake has been pulled, the last whistle has sounded, and all the great family of our show, who, for the past seven months have dwelt together in harmony, prepare to dismember, each to his or her walk in life. ’Tis well to know that peace and harmony did prevail for the time we have been together; well to know that the hand-grasp at parting is as strong and warm, aye! warmer than at meeting; for ere long we will live as a family but in the sweet charm of remembrance; we will have scattered, hither and thither, o’er the face of the globe, as forest leaves before the autumn winds. God-speed us, every one!
To those who have bright and happy homes, where loving and beloved wives and children await them - God-speed them, every one! To those whose hearthstones have grown cold, and whose life-lights have been quenched with the soul-wrung tears of dreary parting - God cheer them, every one! Selah!
The history of the Ringling Bros.’ career as public showmen is so full of interest, so fraught with the trials and triumphs that are more or less the lot of all men who rise from penury and want to opulence and fame, that the editor has deemed it of sufficient interest to the patrons of this paper to give a brief sketch of the noted brothers’ connection with tented amusements.
It is of particular interest just at present, when so many of our readers are making calculations for a visit to this greatest of all American shows (and America leads the world in circuses as well as in other respects), to know how these five famous men started in and prospered in their unique career.
It is a wonderful story - a romance in real life - a page in the history of America’s great men, that teems with lessons of patience, perseverance and honest effort. It is Caesarian, Napoleonic, Bismarckian in effort and in accomplishment, more than can be said of Alexander. The latter conquered the world, but the Ringling Bros. pleased it. Alexander, with all his conquests, could not do this. At a recent banquet, at which the five Ringling Bros. were guests of honor, a famous statesman and political economist said: “The Ringling Bros. have done more for the cause of pure, wholesome amusement than all others, and are entitled to the good-will of their fellow-beings in this and other lands. Formerly circuses were severely censured by moralists. These brothers have created a style, a moral tone and a character for their show which have changed this censure into warmest praise. They educate with amusement and bring to our doors knowledge combined with pleasure. Individually they have done this while affording millions of hours of unalloyed pleasure, and collectively they have given thousands of communities days of happiness long to be remembered. Who can say that the world is not better for it?”
It is such words as these from men who think and act in the interest of their fellow-citizens that bring to mind the good that is being accomplished by intelligent and sincere effort in the amusement field as well as in other branches of human endeavor.
As amusement managers, the Ringling Bros. occupy a position before the world that is at once interesting and unique. The great enterprise that bears their name is distinctively characteristic of its famous founders. Let us turn the search-light of truth upon the history of amusements, and we will find no brighter page than the one upon which the name of Ringling is emblazoned.
We may look upon the wonders of the World’s Greatest Show; we may review it from its stupendous winter-quarters to its spring-time opening; we may compute the expenses of its foreign agents, reckon on the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are spent in advertising; think of its four advertising cars flitting from place to place, covering a track one hundred miles in width with roseate pictures of its coming; hear the rumble of its incoming trains; experience the enchantment of its glorious processions; see with wonder and astonishment its circuses, its racing carnivals and rich pageantry; view its floating sea of gigantic white canvases; compute the multi-millionaire investment, and then - close the eyes, weary with drinking in its wonders and think - think of its beginning, of its history - think that all this has become what it is in eleven brief years. The nucleus of this World of Wonders eleven years ago was a few hundred dollars and three scraggy old horses, and from such a meager beginning has been produced, created, by the energy and perseverance of five untiring young men, this greatest of all amusement institutions.
Is this not a wonder? and yet it does not defy analysis. If we would read the history of these famous brothers and trace their success through its various stages, we must begin with their beginning, take their experience from the time their first tent stake was driven for a canvas not large enough to seat six-hundred people, up to the present time, when their great show requires acres of tented domes.
Just now there is a great deal of interest being taken in amusements, and many moralists think that judiciously devised and properly presented recreation is essential to our social existence; that the people will and must have amusement; that the scope of the circus, among all ages, classes and conditions, but particularly with the youth of our land, is many times in excess of any other branch of amusement; and that, for these reasons, the circus ought to attain the highest possible perfection, both in its nature as a popular entertainer and as an important moral and educational factor. In keeping with these ideas the Ringling Bros. have transformed the nature of the circus so materially, that to-day it bears a far different relation to the world than it did ten years ago. At that time it was not unusual to see a horde of dishonest, greedy and rapacious camp-followers like vampires infesting the routes of traveling shows. It must be confessed that in a number of instances this condition still prevails, but such institutions permitting this are now shunned by the majority of thinking people and only exist by the dishonest earnings of such followers. They can not, however, visit the same place twice, except under the veil of an assumed name which the keen public eye usually penetrates. But we are digressing from our original theme, namely, that of telling our readers how five boys started a circus and at last became the proprietors of the World’s Greatest Shows.
The very beginning of the Ringling Bros.’ career was as small boys with a pin show. The five lads, ranging in age from four to fifteen years, erected their “mammoth pavilion,” consisting of an old rag carpet, borrowed from the maternal kitchen, in the back yard of the parental abode. The parade consisted of one little boy’s express wagon, which did duty as a band chariot. On this were seated one of the boys as a driver and two with fife and drum as the band, while the elder brothers hitched themselves in front and constituted the team. The admission was ten pins. The performance consisted of divers hand-springs, juggling and balancing acts and contortions, in which the boys were assisted by some of their acrobatic juvenile friends. The brothers soon found that they could charge as much as a penny admission, and in a short time had accumulated eight dollars and thirty-seven cents, with which they bought sheeting and made a tent - their first real tent. This, of course, was all accomplished during vacation and out of school hours. Their next venture was a panorama, painted by an artistic neighbor boy on the back of brown wall-paper and mounted on wooden rollers. “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglee,” says Burns, and this venture of the ambitious boys went the way of all things mortal, for they had hardly given one performance with their panorama,
when some larger boys, in a spirit of coltishness, tore it to pieces. The young showmen did not yet know the meaning of the words “Hey, Rube,” and could not resent nor protect themselves against the onslaught of their enemies, and so had to suffer the destruction of their new show when it had taken in thirty-three cents.
Their next effort, however, was not weakened by this their first misfortune, and in a few weeks they had organized a circus to which an admission of five cents was charged. For boys it was a really good show. An old silver watch, all the jack-knives possessed by the five boys, a skiff (for a river ran by their native village), and a number of other things that constitute a boy’s stock in trade, were exchanged for an old black Mexican pony that had been brought back from Vera Cruz by a veteran of the Mexican war. This was the Ringling Bros.’ first horse. To designate it as a horse would be a misnomer, however, for it hardly bore any resemblance to anything in the equine family. Nevertheless the future owners of hundreds of the very finest blooded horses felt as proud, or perhaps prouder, of their poor bony old nag than they ever have since over their aristocratic assemblage of horse-flesh.
The scraggy old pony was hitched to an old democrat wagon, which the boys had painted red, and with an accordeon, a Jew’s-harp, a mouth-organ, an old army trumpet and a drum, the “glorious processional amazement” triumphantly wended its way along the principal streets of the boys’ native village. Plumes made from sheep’s wool, dyed blue and red, gaily nodded over the solitary head of the band team and on the hats of the boys. A hundred or two small boys followed the parade, shop-keepers and merchants came to the doors attracted by the unusual sight, women threw aside the cares of their households, nurses abandoned their charges, everybody came out to see the grand street parade. All saw, laughed, applauded and were amused. It was the proudest moment in the Ringling boys’ whole career. They fairly rent the air with the discordant sounds of their nondescript music corps. The audacity of the boys won the populace, and, instead of an audience of boys, men and women went under the tent and deposited their five-cent places to see a circus managed and given by boys. It was, perhaps, the most novel circus performance ever given, not because there was an act worthy of the name, but because of the self-assurance with which the programme was presented.
The performance commenced with the grand entry. This was an imposing sight. It was led by one of the boys mounted on the same Mexican pony that did duty as the band chariot team. On it the boy was seated, arrayed in all the colors that could be gotten out of a discarded crazy quilt pinned to an old army coat, and representing the King of the Sandwich Isles. The other boys, about seven in number, including the Ringling hopefuls and the hired actors of the troupe, followed the king. One of the boys was made up as a clown, while the others wore, with becoming dignity, costumes supposed to designate them as star performers. The tights were made of old underwear, and there was no lack of trunks, leotards, fancy ribbons and the things with which circus performers decorate themselves before entering the ring. The entry was fittingly concluded by the introduction of a borrowed goat, led by the clown. This goat neither respected persons nor stations, and at the climax of the scene, when the king had dismounted to receive the homage of his royal subjects, the goat took offense at some of the red in the king’s robe and proceeded to bunt it into everlasting nothingness, and incidentally his royal highness, King of the Sandwich Isles and ruler of all Sandwiches, was forced to submit to the indignity of having his royal person come in contact with the swiftly moving cranium of said goat. The king wept bitterly, not because of the affront offered him by one of his humblest subjects, but because it hurt. He thought seriously of abdicating and of going out to play “mumble te peg.” His grief was allayed, however, by a stick of fragrant chewing-gum, and the threatened disaster to the programme did not occur, for be it understood the “king” was to appear later on in a trapeze performance.
The entry over, the circus began in real earnest; and such a show! The band had been reduced to a Jew’s-harp and drum, for the other members were billed for important acts in the ring. But it was music for the juvenile portion of the audience, while for the grown people who had been attracted to the boys’ show, it was a joke that elicited many a hearty laugh, and to this day many a reminiscent citizen of the village delights in telling of the odd and comical circumstances of their five-cent circus.
Each act was announced by one of the boys after the prevailing grandiloquent style of the then existing Dan Rice type of circuses. First on the programme was Albert Ringling in plate and hat-spinning. He did very well with the hats, but the plates seemed contrary to his wishes, and kept falling to the ground. The result was that the six plates borrowed from his mother’s cupboard by hours of earnest pleading, were one by one converted into a mass of broken earthenware, frail reminders of the things of the “earth, earthy.” “Otto Ringling, with his performing goat Rainbow,” was next announced. Rainbow stood on a pedestal with his front feet, then knelt down. He behaved splendidly until his trainer made a low obeisance to the audience, when taking advantage of the latter’s defenseless position, he began to make a meal of the performer’s blue trunks. The exit was made in this manner and was certainly more amusing than graceful.
After the goat act came the tumbling by the entire company. It consisted of cart-wheels and hand-springs, and finally a somersault from a board to a bed-tick by one of the hired acrobats. Of course he did not alight in a standing position, but for his salary of eight cents for each performance, it was very good to see him turn in the air, even though he sat down somewhat suddenly when he landed.
The next number on the programme was a clown song, by six-year-old Johnnie Ringling. The song was “Root, Hog, or Die.” The accompaniment was played on the Jew’s-harp and the other six or seven boys chimed lustily in with the chorus. Charley Ringling next essayed to ride the old Mexican pony, the same pony that had been band team and triumphant bearer of the king. The boys had constructed a riding-pad with boards and old bed blankets, and this crude affair had been placed by means of ropes and old straps upon the pony’s back. John Ringling played clown, with jokes purloined from Dan Rice, Dan Costello, and other famous jesters of the day, while Alfred manipulated the whip, and assumed the Chesterfieldian airs of the ring masters of that age. The cellar-door affair on the back of the pony, kept inclining sideways, and was as often beneath the horse as it was above. Fortunately for the rider the pony could not move faster than a walk, so the numerous falls and slips of the performer were not attended with any mishaps. It was perhaps the best act on the programme, because it was the worst, a paradoxical expression, yet absolutely true, for the entire performance could only be appreciated from an utterly ridiculous standpoint, so far as merit was concerned, and the riding was certainly ridiculous. There were a few other acts on the programme, such as hanging by the knees from a trapeze bar, and bending through a hoop.
All the boys thoroughly anointed themselves with angle-worm oil for weeks before the event, for it was a popular superstition with juveniles then, as it is with many a small boy of to-day, that circus performers used limber-grease to make themselves pliant. This limber-grease was made by industriously digging for angleworms, and after having collected a tin-can full, frying them out secretly on the mother’s cook stove.
These first attempts at public entertainment by the five brothers were the stepping-stones to their future greatness. They were, in fact, an indication of the energy and push which has characterized their efforts in amusements in latter years. They were not mere boys’ play after all, for they foreshadowed things to come. They showed an early aptitude and an early ambition for making the world happier. This has been, and is still, the ambition of their lives, and every day finds them individually and collectively following this inclination, which is constantly leading them to higher efforts and nobler conquests, and has been the grand secret of their success. It has taken them to the pinnacle. They have risen above the plane of other shows. Their object now is to see how far they can outstrip themselves. To-day the Ringling Brothers’ past is their only rival.
The first success of the boys - for success it was, in a sense, as they had in three days accumulated some twenty to twenty-five dollars - fired their ambition for the future, and among themselves the resolution was formed and talked over of some day owning a real circus. They soon came to the conclusion that to be successful they would have to perfect themselves in certain branches of their chosen calling. Accordingly they began the study of music first, realizing that an important requirement of a show is a band. It was not long before three of the boys were playing in the village band, while all were at odd times practicing at juggling, singing, dancing and comedian work. Things went on in this way until the five boys ranged in age from 14 to 23 years. Their ambition had not abated, but they soon realized that they could not for some time start a circus, both on account of the lack of means and for the want of parental consent. The boys figured and schemed and schemed and figured, but it was of no avail. It took money to start a circus, and ambition was their only capital. Finally they hit upon the plan of starting a concert or specialty company, and of playing in halls. To do this only required a few musical instruments, some trunks, comedy and other wardrobe, tickets, and some bills. Besides the boys believed they could induce their parents to consent to such an arrangement, as the elder Ringling took great pride in the musical acquirements of his sons. Accordingly they set to work practicing for this style of entertainment.
Within a short time they had gotten up a programme which in their amateur opinion was going to be a perfect revelation in the musical comedy field. Their first audiences, however, seemed to differ with them on this point, and they soon realized that the art of entertaining was not merely composed of a few old jokes, some songs, music and common acts, but that people desired novelty and excellence.
Time and experience, coupled with industrious practice and a constant aim to excel, soon put the boys on a popular footing with their audiences. Within three months after their professional advent into the amusement field, they were giving a clever and pleasing entertainment.
Their first performance in an opera house was an exhibition of “stage fright,” such as is seldom seen. There were trembling knees, and the boys’ teeth fairly chattered under the glare of the bright lights and at sight of the audience.
The story of their first performance is best told by one of the brothers. Says he: “We had associated with us a couple of amateur young men, making a company of six people, one of my brothers having gone ahead in the capacity of advance agent to bill the show. His stock of advertising material consisted of a package of yellow window-hangers, carried in a cotton hand-satchel and about five dollars worth of stock lithographs, done up in a shawl-strap. He started out with five dollars in cash, which was to last him until we could make some money with the show, and by means of orders on the company for hotel bills, and by walking from the depot to the hotel and back to save ’bus fare, he managed to make it last him about two weeks. Well, when we left the parental abode at about four o’clock of a chilly October morning and took the train for a neighboring village, fourteen miles distant, we were perhaps as proud and as new and green a lot of showmen as ever essayed to give an entertainment. We arrived at our first stand at a little after five o’clock, and at once proceeded in true amateur fashion to see the town before breakfast. Having satisfied ourselves that it was vulnerable and could be captured, we returned to the hotel for breakfast.
“After breakfast the landlord showed us to our rooms. I was about seventeen at the time and not too familiar with hotel life, still I had heard traveling people ‘kick’ at hotels, and supposed it was quite the proper thing to thus show my aristocratic and artistic inclination. I remember confidentially telling a commercial man that the accommodations were not very complete, for there were no combs in the rooms. His hearty laughter I misconstrued as an act of coinciding with my opinion, but afterwards when I found that hotels did not provide their rooms with combs, any more than they did with tooth-brushes, I realized my mal entendre and was more cautious thereafter about committing myself.
“But the first day when we paraded with our little band, and every now and then would see our yellow window-hanger staring at us with the bold announcement that the ‘Ringling Bros.’ Classic and Comic Concert Co. would give an entertainment of Mirth and Music at the Town Hall,’ I tell you our hearts beat a little faster at the thoughts of the bold intention, and I was aware of a kind of a lump constantly coming into my throat, that somehow or other I could not successfully swallow. This was about ten o’clock in the morning, and after dinner we repaired to the hall and once more rehearsed our entire programme It consisted of juggling, singing, dancing, supposedly funny sayings and a concluding sketch. We did very well at the rehearsal, but at night! ‘Ah, at night!’ as the serio-comics say. We had about a thirteen-dollar house, but the fifty-nine people composing the audience looked bigger to me than an audience of 15,000 under our tents does to-day. It seemed as if every individual could read our history, would know that this was our first attempt, and was ready to guy and laugh at our efforts.
“ From the very beginning, the troupe in its entirety seemed to fly to pieces. Our first number was an introductory overture by the orchestra. We all played in this, and ordinarily seemed able to render the overture in quite a satisfactory manner, but when we got before the audience, we seemed unable to play our parts or keep together. It seemed as if every note from the cornet was a blue one, every tone from the violin a squeak, every blast of the clarionet a shriek, and as if all the different instruments were in a jangle. Oh, it was an awful exhibition of faltering nerve, and it is a wonder to me that we ever got through with our debut. After we had finished our overture we were to retire from the stage and prepare for our several acts and specialties. We were a confused and demoralized lot when we left the stage. Our trembling limbs seemed unable to move without getting our feet tangled up with each other’s, and we bumped up against one another awkwardly, as with bated breath and faces red with suppressed excitement and embarrassment we shambled off beyond the wings. If we were suffering from stage fright while all of us were on the stage at one time, you can imagine how we felt when we had to go out and face the audience ‘single-handed and alone,’ as the thespians say. But we did it. One by one we appeared in our several roles. Talk about a soldier’s feeling before a battle! It cannot be a comparison to a real healthy feeling of stage fright. Why, when I came off after my so-called act, my tongue and throat were actually parched from the fever of excitement that was raging within me, and I know that I was only a sample of a half-dozen other young fellows in a similar condition.”
The boys were not dismayed by the difficulties that beset them in their first attempts, but went to work with greater zeal to make their programme acceptable. In this they were to some extent successful, but financially they did not seem to prosper, for receipts were exhausted in paying for hotel bills, railroad fares and the salaries of the two extra performers. As they started with a surplus capital of only seven dollars and did not accumulate twenty dollars in the first three months, the boys decided on a different departure. They made up their minds to dispense with a salary list and give all of their own performance themselves. Accordingly they closed their first season in the middle of February, and by the first of April following had gotten up a programme of considerable merit and with a great deal of pleasing and entertaining qualities about it. The band consisted of a cornet, an alto, a trombone and bass drum, but the band was a loud one, for the boys blew for all they were worth. They had added to their advertising small bills, which they distributed themselves on the streets after the parade. After another three months had passed by in this way, the boys found themselves in possession of over one hundred dollars, which at that time was to them a fortune. They invested this amount in five ready-made suits of clothes of the Prince Albert style, and accompanying silk hats. The boys had by this time gotten over many of their amateur ways and ideas, and the natural strong family resemblance of the youths, together with their similarity in dress, made a decided impression everywhere.
The boys had learned to avoid the larger towns and confined themselves to places of a few hundred inhabitants, where the people were not in the habit of seeing shows; where the rent of the hall or school-house, as the case might be, would not exceed three or four dollars, and where they were sure of at least a moderate business.
In this manner the brothers, after a few years, found themselves in possession of some ten or twelve hundred dollars, and as they again grew ambitious to embark in a circus venture, they began studying the subject in real earnest.
The decision was reached, and the boys thought they could see their way clear to establish themselves in a circus undertaking. Like every one else unfamiliar with a business, they made many mistakes. The principal one was that of spending all their money in equipping their show, for after a small tent had been bought, and the necessary seats, lights, poles, etc., had been supplied, and an advance and two baggage wagons had been bought, there remained in their treasury only about three hundred dollars. With this amount, paper to advertise the show had to be bought, and money for the advance agent and bill-posters and divers other things necessary to even the smallest show had to be supplied. The boys had purchased during the winter two old horses in a country town about two hundred miles distant from their opening point. One of the brothers took the train for the place where they were being wintered, taking with him a saddle and bridle, intending to ride them over the 200-mile route. When he arrived at his destination, he found the horses almost starved to death on their diet of straw and a sorry spectacle indeed. The trip home was a long one, for one of the horses was “blind” and the other “halt,” but it was accomplished in about ten days. The opening day was approaching, and all that could be done to furnish the show with horses enough to transport it from place to place was to hire teams from farmers’ sons who were ambitious to “see the country.”
In the meantime they had made an arrangement with Yankee Robinson, famous as a showman in ante bellum days, but then, as a circus man would put it, “walking on his uppers.” The Ringling Brothers combined their capital - consisting of their little outfit and millions in expectations - with Old Yankee’s reputation, making “a combine of resources unparalleled in the history of tented expositions,” - at least, that was the way the bills read. So they started with a handful of actors, three horses - for they bought an extra horse with their first day’s receipts - a tent that would not seat more than 600 people, and a half score of lumber wagons, to which the hired teams were hitched. It was with the hired teams that the hardest trials of the young showmen were experienced, for every time it rained, or the wind blew, or the roads were bad, or the proprietor of one of the teams had seen enough of the country, he would quit and the ambitious showmen would have to skirmish for some other rural person with a pair of horses and an ambition to travel. Under ordinary circumstances the young managers could keep their show moving, but when there would come a week or two of real rainy weather it was not smooth sailing, for they would often find themselves in need of four or five teams, which was a big percentage of their motive power, when it is considered that eighteen horses pulled the whole show. But they knew not the meaning of the word fail, and by ignoring the power of all difficulties, and by seeking to overcome them, they vanquished every vestige of hard luck and made disadvantages turn into their favor.
Their first serious blow was the death of their veteran associate. Old Yankee Robinson did not live the first season out. He had not taken any active part in the management of the show, but stood back of the boys with counsel and advice. His name on the bills gave an air of establishment to the little show, and his funny speeches in the ring previous to each performance did much toward mitigating the meagerness of the performance. He would always wind up his speech with the following words: “Ladies and Gentlemen! I am an old man. For forty years I have rested my head upon a stranger’s pillow. I have traveled in every State in the Union, and have been associated with every showman of prominence in America. I will soon pass to the arena of life that knows no ending, and when I do I want to die in harness and connected with these boys, and if I could have my dying wish granted it would be that my name should remain associated with that of the Ringling Brothers, for I can tell you that” - and here the old man’s voice would drop to a prophetic tone - “the Ringling Brothers are the future showmen of America. They are the coming men.” Although poor old Robinson did not live to see his promise come true, the brothers demonstrated the veteran’s correctness by constantly rising until they became what he had said they would, namely, America’s representative show managers and proprietors of the World’s Greatest Shows.
The first season of the Ringling Bros.’ circus experience ended with the prospects of the brothers greatly augmented, and they could see the wonderful possibilities that lay before them. Though all of them were not yet out of their teens, they were no longer boys, for they had spent a number of years in travel and active occupation, and they looked upon things with the ideas and thoughts of men. Ambition knows no limit, and no sooner had the brothers acquired a circus than they began to feel the aspiration of all who attain success in their calling, namely, that of having the greatest and the foremost in their line. But the young men knew that it would require years of patient toil and effort to place themselves at the top of the amusement ladder. For several years they plodded with their wagon show, each year adding more horses, animals and equipments, until in the year 1888, they found that they had outstripped every previous effort that had been made in what was known as wagon show business. They had arrived at this stage of their career by years of patient labor, by many hours of thoughtful council, by careful conservative means, by dint of the greatest individual and collective exertion, and by the steadfast, unwavering determination to climb to the top and to have the greatest and largest tented exposition in America. During their earlier career, they had passed through many a storm that had threatened their hopes with destruction. They had gone through danger and had experienced all of the vicissitudes that befall those who embark in great and enormous undertakings. They had seen weeks and weeks of rain, the territory through which they were passing inundated with the liquid element, roads impassable, bridges washed out, receipts cut down to almost nothing because of the impossibility of people getting to the towns when they exhibited, and, worse than all else, an almost empty treasury staring them in the face. No one but a showman can appreciate the situation. But when others were giving up the struggle, under such adversities, the Ringling Brothers would summon all their strength. Their motto was never to stop moving, to keep their show going. One spring, unusually noted for the heavy rains, the brothers had to carry portable bridges in order to get their show from town to town. The rain continued almost incessantly for six weeks, but the young men stuck to their resolve not to give up, and each stand billed was reached by the show, although for two weeks there was yot an afternoon performance given, for the showmen were lucky if they got into their towns by four or five o’clock in the afternoon. In one instance their show did not commence until ten o’clock at night, and the audience had been kept waiting from eight o’clock in the morning. During these trying times, one of the Ringling Brothers would each day go ahead with the band - the others remaining with the heavy baggage wagons - and, arriving hours before the show, would by means of the band’s playing gather people in crowds and tell them that the show would arrive in time to give its performance. In this manner the crowds who had come were usually kept waiting until the show had arrived.
It was this pluck and determination to make things accrue to their own profit, followed out in a thousand ways like the above, that kept the young managers afloat, when sinking seemed inevitable.
One of the hardest trials the Ringling Brothers experienced was their war on the fakirs and thugs who, before their advent into the business, could to a greater or less extent be found accompanying most all shows. The ambitious young showmen saw the necessity of adopting stringent measures against this evil, for they were opposed to it, both on account of their characteristic and rugged honesty, as well as from a sensible business standpoint. They realized that it would be impossible to attain lasting success except by the most honorable and truthful means. The young men could not then afford, as they do now, to employ a corps of efficient detectives to do this work for them, but had to rely on themselves to keep off the hungry hordes of dishonest camp-followers that attempted constantly to follow in their wake. The public soon realized the reform that had been inaugurated by these young showmen, and their popularity grew greater each year on account of this exemplary abolition of a long-persisted-in abuse of the public’s rights. The shows that tolerated this evil openly and gained a part of their revenue from this dishonest source, combined with the fakirs in an attempt to drive from the road a show that dared to announce an honest policy and to denounce the dishonest depredations of this despicable class. Fakirs, confidence men and gamblers were sent to follow and accompany the Ringling Bros.’ Show with the avowed purpose of stealing the people “blind” who patronized them, and of thus driving from existence a show that promised to so effectually destroy their dishonest traffic by leading an example that others would have to follow. But it was of no avail. The Ringling Brothers were not to be caught napping, and after a half dozen of the dishonest leaders of the gang of cut-throats had been sent to prison for their pains, the others religiously kept away from the show they tried to annihilate.
The Ringling Bros, instituted another much-needed reform. They banished profanity from among the habitual accompaniments to the operating department of their show. In fact, they inaugurated such an entirely new departure in the handling of a circus, and particularly from a moral standpoint, that among old-time showmen they became known as the new school of American showmen, and those who still permitted the dishonest methods of the past referred disdainfully to the Ringling Bros.’ institution as the “Sunday-school Show.”
But the “Sunday-school Show” kept on prospering, growing larger every year, adding to its features and gaining in popularity, until a few years ago the Ringling Bros. suddenly found themselves famous. Their rivals, who had hitherto not accounted them much, suddenly found a formidable competitor in this new wonder of the tented field. It was determined by the then existing few reputed great shows to stamp out this audacious young rival for arenic honors. Accordingly the Ringling Brothers found with increasing fame and fortune increasing difficulties and perplexities, and before they realized it they were in the midst of the most hotly contested circus war that was ever waged. The bone of contention was the large cities. Should this new show be allowed to play the largest towns in the country in competition to the then so-called greatest of shows? Their rivals said, “No.” But the Ringling Brothers said, “Yes.” The large cities were converted into rosy picture galleries of circus advertisements, for by this time their show had no superior, financially, artistically, or in point of immensity, and they were past masters of the art of advertising. They had made a glowing picture of many towns. The Ringling Brothers were, if anything, more determined to extend their fame to the large cities than their rivals were to prevent it, and as much as the one side was bound to crush them out of existence they were determined to maintain their position. It was a marvelous circus war. There were suits and countersuits, and the fight was waged in a dozen cities at once. In every case the Ringlings won. People recognized the size and importance of their show. They were accorded by press and public the rights for which they were struggling, namely, the recognition of having the most popular, the largest, the most modern and the best-conducted circus, menagerie and hippodrome in America.
Since then they have grown with giant strides. The little boys’ little show has grown to number 1,000 people; the little old Mexican pony has been supplanted by more than 350 of the finest horses ever bred, some of them priceless. Their little express wagon has evoluted into a hundred gorgeous chariots, dens and tableaux, besides which the tales of Aladdin’s lamp are lacking in gorgeousness. In place of the Jew’s-harp, drum and old army trumpet, a band of fifty solo musicians discourse the most elegant music, and chiming bells weighing many tons proclaim their fame upon the streets of hundreds of cities every year. Instead of a few boyish tricks, hundreds of the finest artistes and performers from every quarter of the globe perform beneath their tents. The cloth hand-satchel and shawl-strap, which once contained all the bills of the boys, has been replaced by four palace advertising cars, and the little yellow window-hangers by tons of the finest lithographic paper; the one man who sallied forth, fourteen years ago, to put up his little handful of bills, now sees a hundred busy advertisers, announcing the coming of the World’s Greatest Shows. The little inclosure beneath the old rag carpet, that one time served as a tent, is now represented by three large rings and mammoth elevated stages; and the old rag carpet, by a million yards of canvas that cover many acres. The old red wagon, that once hauled all their wealth, has now the rumble of four large trains of railroad cars; their little fractious goat into a million-dollar menagerie; and so on indefinitely has been created from virtually nothing the largest show of modern times; and in the meantime five unknown boys have grown into fame, such as was never before accorded to anyone in their calling.
During the present year the Ringling Brothers have again demonstrated their fearless methods. Other shows, fearing the hard times, have retrenched and reduced their plant and their expenses, but the Ringling Brothers have entirely ignored such a thing as a depression, and have again enormously added to and increased their greatest of all shows. New cars have been added to their rolling stock; new chariots and parade features to the processions; new horses to their immense stables; new and larger tents than ever: new animals to their menagerie, and, above all, brand-new circus and hippodrome features, and a world of them. In fact, it is one instance where the greatest apparent extravagance is the greatest economy, for the receipts are doubled by such methods, and everywhere the Ringling Brothers have been playing to crowded and enthusiastic houses.
Can I tell ov the fight in Texas?
Wal, I reckin’ - I wuz thar -
You never seed such scrappin’
Ez thet, I do declar.
I wuz on thet ole fust car
An’, Lordy ! sech a crew
Ne’er flung dope, from Maine to Slope,
Like that push from Baraboo.
We fout most all the summer,
We licked Forepaugh and young Main,
An’ thet wuz jest one reason
Why we didn’t hev to train;
So, when we got to Texas,
We knew jest what we would do
To them Columbus hoboes,
Did the push from Baraboo.
The show wuz jest the swellest
Thing thet ever Texans saw;
We’d ’bout ez menny shanty cars
Ez the railroads cared to draw;
An’ we’d got orders down the line
To prepare the Rinkaboo,
An’ shove it to the “Other Brothers,”
Hed that push from Baraboo.
An’ when the people saw our tents
Spread out upon the lot,
They knew they’d run against a show
Ez wuz goin’ ter make it hot
For the “Other Brothers’” lay-out;
An’ they hailed our comin’, too,
In a way to be remembered
By that push from Baraboo.
They never saw such canvas
Raised ’neath a Texas sky,
They jest went wild about it,
An’ kem humpin’ on the fly.
“Lord! haint she a big un!
Aint she a hummer, too!”
They shouted when they saw the tents
Of that push from Baraboo.
An’ when they saw the street payrade
Nigh unto tew miles long,
They knowed ez the “Other Brothers ”
Hed bin singin’ ’em a song.
Thar wuz a hundred dens an’ lairs,
Two herds o’ ellyphants, tew,
An’ more things ’en I can mention
With that push from Baraboo.
Thar wuz twenty open cages,
An’ thet thar long-necked gy-raffe,
Thar wuz lions, tigers, hips an’ monks
Ez would make a Diego laugh;
Thar wuz nigh four hundred hosses,
An’ of actors not a few;
All dressed in shinin’ costumes
With that push from Baraboo.
An’, my eye! but the color
In the payrade wuz a sight,
The chariots an’ banners, too,
Wuz all so gay and bright;
Looked ez if a shattered rainbow
Wuz a dancin’ thar in view,
Ez the ten bands played in the payrade
Of that push from Baraboo.
An’ them chimin’ bells from Moscow,
In thare dome-topped gilded car,
Jest a pealed out silver music
Ez wuz heerd both near an’ far;
Seemed ez if a shower o’ silver
Fell, like to the mornin’ dew,
An’ flew right in the waggin
O’ that push from Baraboo.
Wall - the “Others” jest wur daffy
When they saw the slice we cut,
An’ they squirmed jest the awfullest
To git out ov the rut;
Fact, they wished they never saw us,
An’ they knew not what to do,
When they seed we couldn’t hold the crowds,
That push from Baraboo.
Why, the folks quit pickin’ cotton
An’ jest flocked into the town,
An’ jammed around the waggin
Till they almost tore it down.
The “Others” grew green with envy,
Though they hed bin good an’ blue;
They jest swore, an’ tore, an’ reared around
That push from Baraboo.
The show-bills jest wur everywhar,
From the streets, up steeple high,
The Ringling Brothers’ dates jest decked
The banners o’ the sky.
The dope jest kep’ a flyin’,
An’ the ole dope slingers, too -
Seemed ez if thar wuzn’t nothin’
But that push from Baraboo.
We started in at Sulphur Springs
An’ hed them on the run,
Don’t talk ’gainst opposition,
Fer hit’s jest the best o’ fun!
’Twas our first tour in Texas,
We jest got thar nice and new,
An’ we won the Lone Star State, hands down,
Did that push from Baraboo.
’Twas a gala day at Greenville,
All the country came to town;
Town an’ country to the circus,
An’ the “Others” nerve let down.
Our show put on the fourth car here,
An’ on it a rousin’ crew.
Why, we won the fightin’ from the start,
That push from Baraboo.
We ring-banked ’em at Dallas,
At Weatherford, an’ Fort Worth;
An’ et Gainesville, Pete, an’ Eph, an’ Lew,
Jest wished they’d stayed up North.
Sherman, like its namesake,
Wuz right in the thickest fray;
Fer we only led the “Other Brothers ”
Thar a single day.
But ’twas well for ’em we did it,
For we left enough o’erflow,
Who couldn’t get into our’n,
To most fill thar durn ole show.
Then sed Ephraim unto Peter,
An’ sed Peter unto Lew,
“We’re done; we’re licked; we’re walloped;
By this push from Baraboo.”
“The next time ez they lick us,
So ez we won’t go bereft,
We’ll tote jest a day behind ’em
An’ we’ll take whate’er is left;
Taint no use to fight ’em,
They’re a rale ripsnortin’ crew;
We’ll regret we came to Texas
’Gainst this push from Baraboo.”
Et Denison we done ’em
Right round to a stand-still,
You never saw sich crowdin’
An’ you never will - until
All the circusmen an’ preachers,
An’ all the politickers, tew,
Will equal meet at the judgment seat
With that push from Baraboo.
They wur waxed at Waxahachie,
At Hillsboro they caught hell;
We threw ’em in a manner
Ez it’s jest fun tew tell.
Capital was Austin, Temple,
An’ ole Saint Marcus, tew;
Why, we licked ’em on a runnin’ jump,
Did that push from Baraboo.
But, bless you, San Antonio,
That good, old Spanish town,
Wuz jest a regular hummer,
Whar we did the “Others” brown;
We hed Injuns, coons an’ greasers,
The elite an’ fashion, tew,
Jest filled the rings and hippo-bank,
For that push from Baraboo.
Thar never wuz such fightin’
Seen in the Lone Star State,
Since Crockett at the Alamo
Met with a hero’s fate.
The doors were closed at seven
(Jest ez they hed bin at tew),
Oh! ’twas a glorious victory
For that push from Baraboo.
An’ when the fight wuz over,
The “Others” felt quite rum,
“Peter—Pete!” cried Lew ’nd Eph,
“Why don’t you take us hum?
You know thet we air mighty sore
All ov thet Rinkaboo.
Take us hum an’ we’ll winter some -
Oh! that push from Baraboo.”
Now Peter wuz the ginral
An’ a mighty man o’ war,
You’d orter seen him strut around
On his old shanty car;
He’s the “Pooh Bah,” an’ the “Bang Wang,”
Of the “Other Brothers” crew.
An’ they didn’t do a thing to him,
That push from Baraboo.
“We kaint git hum,” said Peter,
“It’s a snowin’ thar an’ tough,
It’s bad enough in Texas,
We’re snowed under here enuff;
Yet, I’ve a mind to try it -
No - damn me if I do!
We’re twixt a fire an’ blizzard,
An’ that push from Baraboo.
“Twill teach us three a lesson,
Talk ’bout Chinese an’ Japs;
We’re worser ’en the pigtails
Or any other Yaps; ‘Boys shouldn’t try to do men’s work’
Ez en ole sayin’, trite an’ true,
We haint no biz’ness pesterin’ ’round
That push from Baraboo.”
Wall, boys, thet’s all’s to tell about,
We whipped the “Others” clean,
Course they wur mighty dirty,
An’ they fit us mighty mean.
Now, they’re more afeerd o’ a Ringling
’En a child of a bugaboo,
An’ thar hides air yit a tingling
From that push from Baraboo.
- San Antonio, Texas, Tuesday, October 30, 1894.
Note: not included here are many photographs and the play “That Day at Dallas Town.”
People with photograph not included here (most can be found at Biographies):
B. M. Drake, Contracting Agent
W. D. Coxey, Press Agent
I. V. Strebig, Excursion Agent
George Goodhart, Manager Advertising Car. No. 2
Tom Dailey, Manager Advertising Car. No. 3
John Woody, Layer Out
W. H. Horton, Lithograph, Ticket Agent
Robert Taylor, Master of Transportation
J. H. Snellen, Superintendent of Canvas
Ed. Kennedy, Assistant Superintendent of Canvas
S. Alexander, Superintendent of the Horse Department
Rhoda Royal, Superintendent of Ring Stock
Lou Bingham, Superintendent of Museum Stock
Robert Meek, Asst. Superintendent of Baggage Stock
Chef Johnson, Superintendent of Cooks
Ernest Haley, Superintendent Cooking Department
Tom Haley, Assistant Superintendent Cooking Department
Robert Roy, Albino
Annie Roy, Albino
John Hamilton, Side Show Ticket-Taker
Wm. E. Vogt, Assistant Treasurer
John White, Asst. Superintendent Main Entrance
Fred Madison, Concert Stage Manager
W. H. Burt, Superintendent of Pinkerton Detectives
Albert Parsons, Superintendent of Refreshment Stands
W. F. Weldon, Musical Director and Band Master
Clate Alexander, musician
Sid Lantz, musician
Oscar Puckett, musician
Guy Repaz, musician
Chas. Roy, Superintendent of Lights
Chas. O. Miller, Superintendent of Property Men
Archer Bagley, Asst. Superintendent of Properties
Jules Turnour, clown
Allie Jackson, manege rider
Akimota Fugo, Japanese performer
Ando Lakula, Japanese performer
Kimmora Kickmato, Japanese performer
Okeo Akimota, Japanese performer
S. Akimota, Japanese performer
Kimmora Katora, Japanese performer
Matumato Shingiro, Japanese performer
Tan Kichi, Japanese performer
Sankato, Japanese performer
Little Kickimato, Japanese performer
San Yohomo, Japanese performer
Johnnie Rooney, dancing rope and general performer
Chas. W. Fish, principal bareback somersault rider
Lew Sunlin, clown
Frank Jones, jockey
John Engle, jockey
Fred Cone, jockey
CHS webmaster J. Griffin, last modified March 2008.