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Rachel-K
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Circus Trivia

Thought we might also use a (somewhat) off-topic thread to post our own circus stories and circus trivia--certainly an endlessly interesting subject!

This is a link to some directions describing how to put up the big top from the Circus Historical Society:

http://www.circushistory.org/History/Tent.htm
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vivico1
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Circus Elephants

Hey guys, I was looking for something online about Circus elephants and this is one of the first things I ran across. You know how hard it was to read about the treatment of Rosie (and some of the other animals) and Sara doesn't really pull any punches about it. If you look at this link, you can understand why Jacob loved Rosie and would save her and take her with him. You will know why Rosie loves Jacob too and responds to him. But you will also see August in the video on this link so I warn you now, this is real. The link will give you some information about them and frankly,the rules for other animals, like pets, that PETA will enforce, rarely is enforced for circus animals. If the words and few pictures on the site are too upsetting to you since it was hard in the book too, than I would advice you NOT to look at the video. It is very hard to view and you will see someone use the bull hook talked about continually in the book and it shows them using it just like Sara said August did. There is a part where some Elephants just go wild and hurt people big time, I have seen all of the video on that before on tv when some years ago there was what was almost a rash of elephants going wild. Well now we know why and we can understand something that happens in the book better too. This part is the visual reality of what Sara wrote, so again, I will post it here, if you are curious about Circus elephants but I do warn you ahead about watching the video. It made me cry but it sure put a bigger feeling about the book on me too. When we know the things that go on behind the scenes of so many things that are meant to "entertain" us, we would not attend them. And thats exactly why its kept from public view. Like one of the people in here posted, after seeing that the cat in Vegas kill that famous trainer, why would we go, if we knew we are driving these majestic animals to madness. I can guarantee you, if August hit one elephant in the wild with a bull hook, he would be dead meat in two seconds. But like this, what can they do?

We have talked a little about the outbursts of our elderly in nursing homes when they can't verbally or physically express themselves anymore and how confined they are. I think now after writing this part, something else about this book, Rosie and the older Jacob have a lot in common. To tell the story of circus animals, the behind the scenes story, and intermix that with not only a love story but the story of an old man, losing control of his own life, what he does, what he wants to do, all now being determined by someone else, well, his bed, his wheelchair, being at the mercy of the moods of the nurses, is so much like the animals in the circus. Know what the biggest difference is tho? We will PAY to go see the confined animals who entertain us, some people often have to nearly BE paid, to go see an old "unentertaining" person in a nursing home. Not one of Jacob's family and there were lots, would come and see him and take him out that one day.

OK, here is the link:

http://www.apnm.org/campaigns/circus/circus_elephants.php
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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cindersue
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Re: Circus Elephants

Circus video:

I loved going to the circus, watching the flying trapeze artists. Even the animals doing their tricks. Now, I'll think twice. The animals are treated so badly. I'm surprised more animals haven't attacked their trainers.
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vivico1
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Re: Circus Elephants


cindersue wrote:
Circus video:

I loved going to the circus, watching the flying trapeze artists. Even the animals doing their tricks. Now, I'll think twice. The animals are treated so badly. I'm surprised more animals haven't attacked their trainers.


We know that when we see wild animals doing tricks, its not natural for them. We know they are living in confined quarters which is also unnatural for them.We don't think on those things tho, because we want to see the acts, some cute, some just so cool. If we can't even face that, are we going to think about how they may be treated too? Or the things that video shows? We dont want to know. Tho, in many ways its not any better, I would still rather see a zoo than a circus, they at least have some room, can just hang out and for the most part arent taught to do tricks and for some animals, well like some aging circus elephants or some wild animal some person wants to get rid of, its their last best hope for a decent life since they dont know the wild life anymore but have the instincts still.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Rachel-K
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Old folks and love

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IBIS
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Re: Circus Trivia--Vocabulary

What I found intriguing was the exclusive society that circus people form. The special vocabulary of circus life added details that made this special lifestyle more real to me.

Here are some circus words that I read about for the first time:

Back Door = where performers enter the tent for their act.

Blow Off = immediately following the end of a performance, when the crowd mills out of the tent and onto the midway.

Butcher = A concessionaire who sells food and itmes by carrying them into the audience.

Doniker = Toilet

First of May = A rookie on the circus. Jacob was called that when he first joined, and I had no clue what it meant.

Floss = cotton candy.

Playing Stars and Stripes = played by the band to signal a major disaster in the Big top.

Hey Rube = a call for help among circus folk, usually involving fights with locals.

John Robinson = a shortened performance where an act has a no-show

Roustabout = a laborer on the circus.

Towny = anyone not traveling with a circus.

Twenty-Four Hour Man = circus employee who plans the route to the next town, and determines where the circus will be set up on the lot.

Spec = a parade within the tent of all performers and animals in costume, usually at the beginning of the show, and other times through the town to attract townies to come to the show.

Straw House = a sold-out performance.


I'm sure there are others that I've missed.
IBIS
IBIS

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Peppermill
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Re: Circus Trivia--Vocabulary


IBIS wrote:
What I found intriguing was the exclusive society that circus people form. The special vocabulary of circus life added details that made this special lifestyle more real to me.

Here are some circus words that I read about for the first time:

Back Door = where performers enter the tent for their act.

Blow Off = immediately following the end of a performance, when the crowd mills out of the tent and onto the midway.

Butcher = A concessionaire who sells food and itmes by carrying them into the audience.

Doniker = Toilet

First of May = A rookie on the circus. Jacob was called that when he first joined, and I had no clue what it meant.

Floss = cotton candy.

Playing Stars and Stripes = played by the band to signal a major disaster in the Big top.

Hey Rube = a call for help among circus folk, usually involving fights with locals.

John Robinson = a shortened performance where an act has a no-show

Roustabout = a laborer on the circus.

Towny = anyone not traveling with a circus.

Twenty-Four Hour Man = circus employee who plans the route to the next town, and determines where the circus will be set up on the lot.

Spec = a parade within the tent of all performers and animals in costume, usually at the beginning of the show, and other times through the town to attract townies to come to the show.

Straw House = a sold-out performance.


I'm sure there are others that I've missed.
IBIS


Neat! Thanks, Ibis.

Does the first paragraph of this explain the source of "John Robinson"?

http://www.circushistory.org/Thayer/Thayer3a.htm

For an almost inexhaustible source of circus trivia, try:
http://www.circusinamerica.org/public/
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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ELee
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Re: Circus Trivia--Vocabulary

What about the Monday man? ...you see him when you need a change of clothes!
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vivico1
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Re: Circus Trivia--Vocabulary


ELee wrote:
What about the Monday man? ...you see him when you need a change of clothes!


yep hes a good one, shops right off the locals clotheslines LOL. And how about Kinkers for the performers behind their backs but performers to their face lol. And wasnt there a name for what Jacob did, when he one of his first jobs was to stand in the crowd and when signaled, jostle the people forward towards the attractions? Then there were the Patches, whose job it was to smooth over the townies who got mad, so they wouldnt cause problems. Oh, thats something I want to talk bout on the first 1/3 of the chapter thread too.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: Circus Elephants



vivico1 wrote:
Hey guys, I was looking for something online about Circus elephants and this is one of the first things I ran across. You know how hard it was to read about the treatment of Rosie (and some of the other animals) and Sara doesn't really pull any punches about it. If you look at this link, you can understand why Jacob loved Rosie and would save her and take her with him. You will know why Rosie loves Jacob too and responds to him. But you will also see August in the video on this link so I warn you now, this is real. The link will give you some information about them and frankly,the rules for other animals, like pets, that PETA will enforce, rarely is enforced for circus animals. If the words and few pictures on the site are too upsetting to you since it was hard in the book too, than I would advice you NOT to look at the video. It is very hard to view and you will see someone use the bull hook talked about continually in the book and it shows them using it just like Sara said August did. There is a part where some Elephants just go wild and hurt people big time, I have seen all of the video on that before on tv when some years ago there was what was almost a rash of elephants going wild. Well now we know why and we can understand something that happens in the book better too. This part is the visual reality of what Sara wrote, so again, I will post it here, if you are curious about Circus elephants but I do warn you ahead about watching the video. It made me cry but it sure put a bigger feeling about the book on me too. When we know the things that go on behind the scenes of so many things that are meant to "entertain" us, we would not attend them. And thats exactly why its kept from public view. Like one of the people in here posted, after seeing that the cat in Vegas kill that famous trainer, why would we go, if we knew we are driving these majestic animals to madness. I can guarantee you, if August hit one elephant in the wild with a bull hook, he would be dead meat in two seconds. But like this, what can they do?

We have talked a little about the outbursts of our elderly in nursing homes when they can't verbally or physically express themselves anymore and how confined they are. I think now after writing this part, something else about this book, Rosie and the older Jacob have a lot in common. To tell the story of circus animals, the behind the scenes story, and intermix that with not only a love story but the story of an old man, losing control of his own life, what he does, what he wants to do, all now being determined by someone else, well, his bed, his wheelchair, being at the mercy of the moods of the nurses, is so much like the animals in the circus. Know what the biggest difference is tho? We will PAY to go see the confined animals who entertain us, some people often have to nearly BE paid, to go see an old "unentertaining" person in a nursing home. Not one of Jacob's family and there were lots, would come and see him and take him out that one day.

OK, here is the link:

http://www.apnm.org/campaigns/circus/circus_elephants.php





Oh! yes! It was definitely a love story; a love of the circus, a love of an elephant, a love between man and woman. It was totally awesome.
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kiakar
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Re: Circus Elephants



cindersue wrote:
Circus video:

I loved going to the circus, watching the flying trapeze artists. Even the animals doing their tricks. Now, I'll think twice. The animals are treated so badly. I'm surprised more animals haven't attacked their trainers.




I know its a wonder we aren't hearing more about stories like this. Occasionally we hear about trainers being attack. Is the circus fever dying down? Or maybe at my age I don't hear about it as much? Yea, when I was a kid I adored the circus and my children also.
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kiakar
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Re: Circus Trivia--Vocabulary



vivico1 wrote:

ELee wrote:
What about the Monday man? ...you see him when you need a change of clothes!


yep hes a good one, shops right off the locals clotheslines LOL. And how about Kinkers for the performers behind their backs but performers to their face lol. And wasnt there a name for what Jacob did, when he one of his first jobs was to stand in the crowd and when signaled, jostle the people forward towards the attractions? Then there were the Patches, whose job it was to smooth over the townies who got mad, so they wouldnt cause problems. Oh, thats something I want to talk bout on the first 1/3 of the chapter thread too.




I would say, the circus life is alittle bit different, isn't it? I was astounded at some of the things they do in circus. It wasn't for the weak of mind, body or soul.
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IBIS
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Re: Circus Trivia: Old Photographs

One topic which surprisingly hasn't been talked about very much are the old circus photos that open up each chapter in the book.

In an interview, Sara Gruen said that these old circus pictures motivated her to write about the circus during the Depression.

In the photo opening Chapter 14 (page 178) there is the dining area for the "performers" and the management. The tables have tablecloths, there are flowers and vases, porcelain dishes, and servers standing by. It looks as fancy as any three star restaurant.

And we know that at another site, maybe the other side of the same tent, there are the wooden trestle tables without table cloths, where the roustabouts and workers eat. We know that there are no flowers, or porcelain dishes and silverware.

And the photo of the chef on p.90 -- Chapter 7. He looks very spiffy in his chef's hat, string tie, crisp white apron and clean shirt. It's obvious that he's preparing a very fancy meal in the train's kitchen.

These photos showed how deep the caste and class divisions were in circus life.
The amazing differences in the circus staffers' lifestyle depended a lot on how high they were on the food chain.

IBIS
IBIS

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ELee
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caste and class

IBIS wrote:
"These photos showed how deep the caste and class divisions were in circus life.
The amazing differences in the circus staffers' lifestyle depended a lot on how high they were on the food chain."

The thing that I found interesting was Jacob's ability to move from one group to another and back again. He was not bound by those divisions. When Al and August discovered he was a vet (student), he appeared as a "diamond in the rough", something they both placed value on and therefore elevated nearer to their level. Yet Jacob also maintained relationships with Walter the performer and Camel, a fading advance man, and moved within their "societies" as well. What does anyone else think?
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Wrighty
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Re: caste and class


ELee wrote:
IBIS wrote:
"These photos showed how deep the caste and class divisions were in circus life.
The amazing differences in the circus staffers' lifestyle depended a lot on how high they were on the food chain."

The thing that I found interesting was Jacob's ability to move from one group to another and back again. He was not bound by those divisions. When Al and August discovered he was a vet (student), he appeared as a "diamond in the rough", something they both placed value on and therefore elevated nearer to their level. Yet Jacob also maintained relationships with Walter the performer and Camel, a fading advance man, and moved within their "societies" as well. What does anyone else think?



I noticed that too. Jacob seemed a bit wary when he moved from one group to the other, he knew people were watching, but he really had no choice in any of it. He had to do what he was told and no one went against August's word. There must have been hard feelings but then again most everyone knew how the "game" was played. There were rules to be followed or else...It did seem that despite the obvious divisions most of them were very grateful to have any job at all and to have the good food they usually had. (The food was brought up often, wasn't it?)
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IBIS
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Re: Food instead of a salary

Even when Uncle Al kept back part of the workers' salaries, many of them grumbled, but they put up with that illegal practice because they got good hearty meals.

Outside the circus, there was a depression where many unemployed people weren't sure where their next meal was coming from.

IBIS
IBIS

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Fozzie
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Re: caste and class



ELee wrote:
The thing that I found interesting was Jacob's ability to move from one group to another and back again. He was not bound by those divisions. When Al and August discovered he was a vet (student), he appeared as a "diamond in the rough", something they both placed value on and therefore elevated nearer to their level. Yet Jacob also maintained relationships with Walter the performer and Camel, a fading advance man, and moved within their "societies" as well. What does anyone else think?



I think he could move between the groups because he really did not belong to either group. However, Jacob still had to have the right personality to be able to interact successfully in both groups.
Laura

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Peppermill
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Re: caste and class


Fozzie wrote:

ELee wrote:
The thing that I found interesting was Jacob's ability to move from one group to another and back again. He was not bound by those divisions. When Al and August discovered he was a vet (student), he appeared as a "diamond in the rough", something they both placed value on and therefore elevated nearer to their level. Yet Jacob also maintained relationships with Walter the performer and Camel, a fading advance man, and moved within their "societies" as well. What does anyone else think?

I think he could move between the groups because he really did not belong to either group. However, Jacob still had to have the right personality to be able to interact successfully in both groups.
Interesting thread! There were several reasons those seemed plausible attributes of Jacob to me. First, his father had been a vet, so Jacob had probably interacted much of his young life with people who handled and/or loved animals. But, he had been trained at a sophisticated university which would likely have exposed him to a range of people and fostered his comfort in interacting with them. Third, he was young and the young are often accepted, mentored, protected in ways older people are not. I agree with Laura that personality and independence in belonging (sort of like a doctor in a small community) must have also been factors. Others that have been noted or surmised?
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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