Growing Up With the Circus

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by LE. Berry

Growing up with the Circus

A Very Important Part of My Life



Photograph: Eric Thompkins, Unsplash


When I was in San Fransisco for a visit, I chanced to find a factory where they crafted horses for merry-go-rounds. I was amazed at the work that was put into every one. The devotion that is required, to make these works of art, was obvious to me! There’s been an evolution in the circus, but the merry-to-round has always remained. 


Animal rights are a concern to all of us, we don’t want to see animals mistreated, and they do belong in the wild, not in a travelling show. Although these are realities, my growing up was centred around such events, since our lives were pretty limited most of the year. 



Photograph: Sergio Souza, Unsplash


It was a magical day when the circus came to town. The day preceding, many workers put up tents and put together the colourful rides, added lighting. They made sure everything was safe.  That in itself was intriguing, and it was fun to see animals taken off trains or other transport.


It’s the wild game that made the show and the training that made the Parade of Animals possible. The training necessary was always under-estimated. The elephants were the big stars with beautiful ladies clinging to their trunks and banners hanging from their backs and foreheads. 


There were several rings, usually, three rings, in which each animal’s special skills were shown. Really, just having exposure to the various species was distinctive. Zoos weren’t something we attended as a rule. Tickets were free for children, so every child was able to go with a parent or an older brother or sister.



Photograph: Becky Phan, Unsplash


My favourites were always the trapeze artists, who had perfect timing for their jumps from bar to bar, to connect at the right time.  Also, the beautifully costumed ladies in their slings turned in a symmetry of lights and music. It was the senses that were brought to life at the circus.  The smell of popcorn, the smells of the animals in close proximity, and always the sounds of hawkers selling their wares, the many, many lights that accented everything, and the orchestra which highlighted the highs and lows of the action.



Photograph: Nikitha Suresh, Unsplash


When you are a kid, the circus seems like heaven, a place where anything is possible.  My eyes were opened to many things I wasn’t aware of. In one tent were the oddities of man. Now, these are considered appalling, but in those days, it was normal. There were very small people, and very large, the lady with the beard, the fat lady. At that time, it was the only place many of these people could make a living. Often rejected by their own families, and society, they became each other’s families.


The clowns were used as distractions, especially when things weren’t functioning in one of the animal rings, to relax the audience or the performers. Their faces were exaggerated happy and sad and performed all types of stunts to get attention. This was especially important during any mishap. 


The lion tamer encouraged the animal to climb and retreat from various stands, and at the end of the performance, could get the lion to go through a fire-ring. 



Photograph: Pascal Bernardon, Unsplash


Everyone loved the horses, ridden bareback by ladies in sparkly costumes, showing various stunts, riding under the horse’s belly, and to the side. The stunts were synchronized to be visually appealing. 


The all-time favourite on the midway, for children, is the merry-go-round.  Parents would take their small children for the first time, holding them on, as the horse was lifted and at the same time, circled with the other horses. 


The Ferris wheel was a favourite for the young couples who would snuggle, and be together intimately, maybe for the first time. 


The hawkers would call out for the games, and a man would try to win a prize for his sweetheart or child that they could take home. Cotton candy was constantly being made to serve the “sweet-tooth.” It was an unusual treat back then. 


Many hats were sold and besides keeping the sun or the rain off, it showed the person’s personality. Many stands of jewelry or silver were sold by craftspeople who made them by hand and used this once-a-year occurrence, to supplement their income.


One game I always liked was the digger machine. For a nickel or a dime, you could try your skill at making the digger grasp a toy for your prize. 


I would hate to see the Circus gone totally because it enriched, entirely, my adventures as I was growing up. 



Shirley Langton 2020


Submitted: October 16, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Shirley M. Langton. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Harry Little

Verily, circus has its own art and entertainment. Though we are in this competitive global village, where there are tonnes of choices.
It delights people of all ages.
I'm sure that circus will never end. A nice description to read.

Fri, October 16th, 2020 6:34pm


Thanks Harry, I enjoyed writing it. Shirley

Fri, October 16th, 2020 12:10pm

LE. Berry

Fine descriptive piece Shirley...felt like I was there when reading it.

Fri, October 16th, 2020 8:02pm


Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed writing it. Shirley

Fri, October 16th, 2020 1:21pm

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