Friday, March 19, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen!!! Step right up....

I have been sitting outside, enjoying the rare sunshine, pretending I am by the beach while reading Water for Elephants. I am not going to lie, based on the picture on the front, I thought the book was about someplace in the Middle East. Considering it references elephants in the title and there is a picture of the back of a person dressed in bright colors entering a tent.... well I think it was a pretty normal assumption. But then I picked it up and read the back. You know what it is about? The CIRCUS!!! Who doesn't love the circus? Well, other than the carnies with little hands and the creepy clowns...
I just finished reading the book. It was amazing. I wanted it to keep going.
After reading the book the author included some facts she learned while doing extensive research to write this book.
One fact that amazed me was: during the book she mentions a hobo camp where there were lots of young boys sleeping with their shoes tied to their ankles to keep them from being stolen. She found out that during the 1930s 80% of all hobos were under the age of 21. When I think of a hobo I think of this:

Not this:
But I suppose it makes sense when I think back to what I know about the Great Depression era. Many men lost their jobs and offed themselves due to mounting depression as a result of feeling like a failure to be able to provide for their families. Of course, this left a lot of single women with children to feed. Even the men who suck around were out of jobs, making many families nomadic. This was in the times before birth control, so families had many children. It would only make sense that a majority of the population would be the young children of the jobless families. Who can forget this image:
I seriously hope that the economic crisis we are currently in never gets to the status of the Great Depression.

Back to happier things... at the Ringling Brothers' Circus Museum there is a to-scale model of what the circus looked like when they traveled around in the 1930s. To get a sense of scale, look at the person to the right in the bright green shirt. This picture was taken by someone from the second story observatory.
The large tent is obviously the Big Top there is a small roofless tunnel leading tot the main tent from the menagerie where all the exotic animals were kept. People were funneled into the menagerie to see the wild animals before the show, then they were led through the tunnel into the big tent for the show. They exited through the other side of the tent.
Here is a video for a better tour of all the small tents and side shows:

These videos are from

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