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Wednesday, 09 November 2011

The Circus Is Coming

By Ralph Lymburner

“Mom, the circus is coming, the circus is coming!! Can we go watch them take the animals off the train? Can we, huh mom, pleeeeeeze?”

I had completely forgotten that event in my life until I saw an article in my local Florida paper the other day. The circus was really coming to town.

We elder group of citizens often have events tucked away in the back of our minds. These never come to the forefront of our daily routines until some small hint jumps at us and smacks us right in the memory and shakes it loose.

Well, mom took my brother and me down to the unloading point and we stood there in utter childlike amazement. All of these creatures that we had only seen in library books or comic books were right there walking past us. Elephants, horses, tigers and lions in cages were making loud roars and pacing just like in the movies.

I don’t know how it happened, but the next thing I remember was my brother and I were pulling a large rope. We watched the main tent rise out of the dust in the field. There were grown men interspersed with us boys and the person in charge was screaming, “PULL” in a rhythmic cadence.

I have no concept of how long we did this but it couldn’t have been too long as I was only 10 and my brother eight (I think).

Then the foreman shouted through his megaphone, “All you boys line up for payday.” This was impossible. We were involved in a dream that any boy would cherish forever and now we get some pay as well.

Our pay turned out to be free passes to that evening's show for both of us and our mom. (Dad was still in the army guarding German prisoners in South Carolina.)

The only item that I remember about the show was walking through the sideshow tent and watching all of the oddities of nature. In 1946, we called them freaks. This is another adventure that young boys of today will never have. I don’t care how many iPods and other gadgets they have.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


A 10 year old boy helping to raise the big top! Does it get any better than that? WOW!
Your story set me off on my own magic day dream.

Then there was the time I was ten and my uncle and aunt came by to pick up my eight year old sister. They said they were going to the circus. I begged to go. He said they'd take me next time. I'm still waiting, but it's for sure they won't be taking me.

They had two sons and I'm sure my aunt is the one who wanted my sister. I didn't understand that at the time.


Sadly the Circus is almost a thing of the past, with animal rights, etc. One of the best movies is "First of May"(means brand new circus worker) with Mickey Rooney, Julie Harris, Joe DiMaggio, filmed here in Deland Florida. Was on HBO and I got a copy, fantastic acting. Never came into full viewing.

Great story. Makes me remember going to the circus with my uncle and aunt. I don't remember much about the show. Before we went they showed me the news story about the fire that killed a number of people when they trampled each other trying to get out. When we were sitting under the tent waiting for the show to start, my uncle pointed out the pinpoints of light shining through the big top. He was sure they were made by burning coals that had blew onto the top the month before when the bigtop was in Chicago. Tents are gone but a live show is worth alot more than television. Thanks for sharing.
Michigan Grandma

Ralph - Nice story.

I once loved the circus. Then about 40 years ago I saw a TV episode of 'The Twilight Zone', where a couple was kidnapped by a UFO. They woke up in a modern house on some distant planet. When they looked out the window, hundreds of natives were gawking at them, and there was an exhibit sign which read, "Man, in his native habitat."

That cured my interest in circuses and zoos once and for all! - Sandy

Great story, Ralph..

About that Twilight Zone story,Sandy.

Do you remember whether the keepers came around at mealtimes and threw Whoppers and Big Macs at the specimens who lived in that exhibit?

Yes, I'll take fries with that!

I never got to go to the circus due to the polio outbreak; no crowds for the children. Then growing up in a non-meat eating family I got to hate seeing animals caged in zoos. But deep in my childhood heart I still dream of hoping to see those strange animals parading around under a flapping big top tent.

loved your story

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