8/11/49 - "Aunt Caroline took me to the Circus" BY-WAYS - 8/11/49 - "Aunt Caroline took me to the Circus" - August 5, 1949

Until some of the highlights of Saltsburg and Indiana county history come rolling in, shall we reminisce along the lines of entertainment? Perhaps there is a bit of a carnival streak in all normal human beings, but I am afraid that a couple of pious souls gave me their share - for I still love circuses, good movies, lilting music, and good, clean shows. Did Saltsburg have many circuses? I can remember only one. But it was the red letter day of my childhood. The circus tent and all its luring side shows were set up in the field across from where Alice Robinson Coleman now lives, or about there. At any rate, within full view of the cemetery. Aunt Caroline, my foster mother, did a thousand things to endear me to her, but nothing more than taking off an afternoon out of her crowded summer days - to take me to the circus. She spared no expense. We took in all the side shows, drank pink lemonade, and had wonderful seats in the main tent. I was simply goggle-eyed the whole way through. There was the dancing brown bear - do you remember? The mummy in his 'coffin'; the gaudily dressed woman with her pet snakes, Ugh! The roaring, snarling lions, tigers, etc. My greatest thrill that day was holding a little lion cub in my arms. As gentle as a pup. But his mother was certainly upset about it. In the main show, do you remember that man putting his head in the lion's mouth? I thought then that Daniel had nothing on him. And do you remember the smart horse that could "count"? We young innocents were not up to the tricks of the trade, and for many years I thought of that horse as a creature quite out of this world. The trained elephants were amazing; so were the bare-back riders; the death-defying trapeze performers; oh, indeed, it was all a new world of magic. I went home resolved to be a graceful trapeze artist. To my dismay I found that I couldn't even chin myself. So I settled for bare-back riding.

How many of you were there? Was it Barnum's circus? It seems to me it was. Then the first taste of the "theatah" - the Irene Jeavon shows. I can't, for the life of me, remember where they were held, but I can remember the breathless excitement when I was told we were going to see one of those great 'melodramas'. I can recall the names of but two, "Damon and Pythias" and "Ten Nights in a Bar-Room." I can still see the 'bloody gash' on young Irene Jeavon's cheek as she came into the bar-room, to bring her drunken father home. Both young Irene and her mother were beautiful in a fragile sort of way, as I recall them. The Roman soldiers, with their helmets, heavy amour, and spears in "Damon and Pythias" were most awe-inspiring to a child. And that breathless moment when Damon got there in the nick of time to save the life of Pythias, his faithful friend, who went bond for Damon with his own life. And the tear-jerking scene when the governor set them both free. Does anyone remember the play in which the heroine (Irene Sr.) stands in haughty scorn and says, "Once I loved and trusted you. Now I loathe and despise you." The scene was so impressive that Ina and I would go Jeovanic for weeks afterward. ***

Now it is Saturday, and I must send this a-flying. But some wonderful historical material has just come in the mail, via kindness of Miss Anna Rupert. So we will sift and sort for next week's column. Believe me, I am grateful.

Florence B. Taylor

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