senior scribes

The Circus is Coming
By Sharon Hopper

I am just 5 years old and my dad comes into my room before daylight and says “get up or we will be late”. Then I remember that this is the day that the train is bringing the circus to town and dad and grandpa are taking me to watch them unload and watch the parade from the train to the fairgrounds.

I am hurrying to get dressed and into the car so we can pick up grandpa and get down to the rail station to see the circus unload. And it is raining. “Dad will they still have the parade in the rain?” I ask and he laughs and says “Sure Will”. Grandpa says “ I already have the tickets for The Greatest Show on Earth and you little girl will remember this day for the rest of your life.”

Today I am much older and I have seen the Ringling Bros circus several times and visited their winter home in Florida. The last time I saw the circus live was in Daytona Beach and we took my grandmother to see the circus and she was a mere 90 years old and the biggest kid there. Last night I cried a bit as I watched the final performance on streaming TV. And I was amazed at how the circus has changed from the hey day of its time. Because of the activists there were no elephants, or big cats, and the clowns seemed to be really working rather than having fun.    

I remember petting the elephants and even feeding them peanuts. But what I marveled most at was the work they did to put the big circus tent up. Oh yea! That was in the day when the circus played under the “big top” in all weather conditions and after the show was over everyone got busy, packed up the gear, and the Elephants following orders from their trainers lowered the circus tent and readied those large poles for the circus train to do it all over again the next day.

I could see last night that the circus along with many other things had reached the point of extinction in our society. For some strange reason we do not appreciate the work and dedication of artists who try their level best to entertain and thrill us. We have become complacent to the live performance that is sometimes off perfection because it is done by real human people in real human time. I do not know of any human who is 100% all the time. But I do remember going to the circus. I liked seeing the side shows, and being thrilled and feeling very lucky to have had such a privilege. The Circus like many things will be missed for a time and then forgotten.

Life changes. Not always for the best but it changes and we have to adapt ourselves to new things and new ways. But it is fun to remember that once upon a time we had so much fun right in our own backyards. My backyard at the time was Mansfield, Ohio. Not a big city, but an everyday city and that is where the Greatest Show on Earth played and gave the Greatest Show on Earth.

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