Saturday, August 15, 2009

60 Some Years After the Fact

I think it was in August 1946. I might have been standing in the doorway to the left.. You see, I had run away to join the Cole Brothers Circus and I ended up spending a day working in the cook wagon. That's what you see at the left - the cook wagon of the Kelly Miller Circus which rolled into our town late last night or early this morning and will leave town tonight or tomorrow morning.

Sixty or so years ago this month I heard that the Cole Brothers Circus was going to be in a nearby town and I decided to watch it come in. I didn't really mean to run away from home but, hey, there's a charisma to the circus - even a small one.It would be the adventure of a lifetime. In late evening I expected to see at least one or two trucks roll in.. However, nobody showed up until around dawn and I had a terrible nights sleep in the grandstand of the fairgrounds where the great (certainly not the GREATEST) show on earth was to set up. When the trucks began to roll in, I wandered up to see the big top go up. Somebody called out, "Hey, kid - want some work?" The cook wagon sounded a lot better that shoveling elephant poop so I said sure and immediately found myself cooking eggs and burning bacon. They let me eat a bite or two and then it was back to sweating over a hot griddle.

Any thought I had of seeing the big top go up went up in smoke - I slaved in that cook wagon right up to six in the afternoon when somebody handed me a couple of free (did I say free?) passes. I hadn't seen anything of the circus stars except when they ate, or the setting up of various tents. Never saw any of the animals. Just worked up a sweat over that hot griddle.

By the time the day was over all I wanted to do was to go home and sleep for a week or more. I vowed I never wanted to see another circus. Until today.

The folks at today's circus invited anybody who was interested to come at nine in the morning and watch the big top go up complete with an elephant pulling up tent poles. Finally I had my chance - I could visit the cook tent and visit with the cook telling her she had my sympathy - and she responded with a smile - "It's hard work but someone has to do it." I replied, "Yeah, I know what you're talking about - I served my time (a day that seemed like an eternity) sixty years ago.

So go my memories of the circus. And I finally got to see what I didn't see back in the last century. And I did not volunteer to work in the cook tent.


  1. But did they have an elephant named Lisa? I mean really, it wouldn't be worth it without a big fatty Lisa around.

  2. yes they did have an elephant named Lisa.
    But she was old and wrinkled.