Sunday, February 28, 2010

From Don Covington

circus_t352, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

For entertainment-starved frontier towns, the arrival of a traveling circus was a thrilling community event eagerly attended by almost everyone. Mary Chase Walker, one of San Diego’s first schoolteachers, described a Mexican circus that came soon after her arrival in the small town in July 1865:
It exhibited in the evening in a corral with high adobe walls, the company having no tents. The place was lighted by strips of cloth laid in cans of lard and then set on fire. The primitive lanterns were set on high posts and at best furnished a poor light. The spectators included nearly all of the population of the town who could pay the admittance fee of 50 cents. I think the Indians were admitted at half-price. The Americans and Spanish occupied one side of the corral, and the Indians squatted on the ground on the other. The performance on the trapeze and tightrope looked especially weird and fantastic in the smoky light of those primitive lanterns.
The first American circus came to town in January 1869 when George F. Ryland brought his “Exposition Circus” down the rough wagon road from Los Angeles for three performances in Old Town and one in New Town. A native of England, Ryland had been a performer since age 13 and could do it all: juggler, tumbler, clown and equestrian. His company was small — seven performers were listed in a San Diego Union advertisement — and all had multiple roles.
Equestrian feats seemed to be the highlight of the evening. Ryland performed on horseback as the “Juggler of Japan” and was joined by the trick riding of Elena Jeal in an act called “The Sylph and Highland Piper.” Three clowns, a pantomime act, and the talents of Mr. Horatio Nelson — who made “Music out of a few Pine Sticks” — rounded out the show.
Ryland’s small troupe would make several more stops in San Diego in the coming years, with their last appearance in December 1878. Larger companies began making the journey from Los Angeles to San Diego — many catering to a public fascination with animal acts. Professor Samwell’s Circus and Animal Show featured performing dogs, monkeys and goats. “Educated horses” were a highlight of the Sherman Circus, which appeared in 1881 and 1883.
In the mid-1880s, with the arrival of the transcontinental railroad, San Diegans saw their first nationally known circuses. The Ohio-based Sells Brothers circus would be the biggest entertainment event the town had ever seen.
The press agent for Sells arrived in San Diego on Sept. 25, 1886, and S.H. Barrett, the brother-in-law of the four Sells brothers, did his job well. The town was plastered with colorful posters announcing the upcoming spectacle. The next day, the Union described — in Barrett’s words, no doubt — the show’s famed wild animals: “the greatest zoological collection on earth, including all known quadrupeds, wild and wonderful, ever classified in zoology.”
Anticipation of the circus led to local controversy. When city schools officials announced classes would close for one day to allow children to attend the show, parents howled. One concerned father complained in a letter to the Union: “I have utterly failed to find the first thing about a circus that would recommend it to me as a means of entertainment or education for children. I should very much regret to have the impression get abroad, that as a community, we consider a ‘circus’ such a superior means of education.”
The school board replied that children would go to the circus anyway, leaving classrooms nearly empty.
“Necessity, not choice, rules the matter,” trustees declared.
A petition from nearly 400 Russ High School pupils sealed the deal by arguing that they would learn more zoology and natural history by studying the circus’ wild animals than weeks of schoolbook study.
The Sells circus train of 30 rail cars pulled into the depot at the foot of D Street (Broadway) on Thursday morning, Oct. 14. The parade from the station to the show site featured music from a loud steam calliope, along with a herd of elephants and camels. Performers marched through downtown to a vacant lot at Fourth and C streets, where an enormous canvas tent was quickly erected.
That afternoon and evening, several thousand local residents — including, presumably, most schoolchildren in the county — witnessed the first large-scale circus performance they had ever seen. An array of arena artists performed in three rings, the most astounding act of which seemed to be a giraffe and a pair of hippopotamuses running loose.
The next fall, the city greeted the John Robinson circus. A “hard crowd” of several hundred gamblers and confidence men were known to be accompanying the circus, warned the Union.
“The men have all kind of swindling games and devices with them and among the followers are some of the cleverest pickpockets and sneak thieves in the country.”
Locals braved the pickpockets and attended the show in huge numbers. The circus treasurer estimated 7,000 people were under the canvas for the Saturday night performance, perhaps one-quarter of the city’s population.
With the return of the Sells Brothers on Oct. 13, 1888, San Diegans saw their biggest circus yet. More than 40 70-foot-long railroad cars came to a stop near 26th Street and Logan Avenue, where a mammoth “Roman Hippodrome” tent the length of a football field was pitched. The traditional procession through town began two hours later, followed by matinee and evening shows.
The circus included 300 performers. Acrobats, clowns, jugglers, equestrians, trapeze artists and tightrope walkers performed in 90 acts in the tent’s three rings. The featured act was the marksman Capt. Adam Bogardus — the “champion wing-shot of the world” — and his three sons. But the public seemed just as fascinated by the “wild beasts” housed in 50 cages, including “the only pair of blood-sweating hippopotami on earth.”
Like most big railroad circus shows, the Sells would perform only one day before moving to the next town. “The great circus has come and gone,” the Union reported, “and thousands of people testify that the Sell Brothers have produced the best combination ever shown on the Pacific Coast.”

CW Reunion #1 (From Karen Glenn)

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010 My Sweet husband, Billy and me...with the original banner from CW, totally restored and repainted just for the Reunion! Amazing..mad us all cry!!

CW Reunion #2

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010. One of the original hard hats that was worn by an elephant for the Ground Breaking of CW park way back in 1974...Thanks to the former Ben Williams, and former Billy Bouthilier for giving this hat to me back in the day...and a special thanks to my Hubby, BIlly for digging it out of the back of the storage bldg and cleaning it up for the show.

Larry Kellogg and me posing with the hat.

CW Reunion #3

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010. The original brass bell that came from the little circus train that performed either at Circus World or on the RBBB show that was at the park...somehow I ended up with it...someone gave it to me back in the 70's..wonder who?? THanks to Billy, my hubby for cleaning it and building a stand for it to show it at the reunion.

CW Reunion #4

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010 WOW!! Talk about some oldies from the Circus World days...Me, Scott Riddle, Cindy Potter and Cindy Herriott Wells...We all worked out there with elephants and horses, magic, etc...

CW Reunion #5

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010 Gary Hill former elephant man from Circus World, Great Adventures Park, NJ, and Texas, and from the RBBB show in the elephant and cats depts. and me... What a wonderful old was a terrific meeting and night with all the old gang!

CW Reunion #6

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010 Kathy and Gary Jacobson and Cindy Potter, what fun having all us together again!!

CW Reunion #7

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010. David Mannis from the elephant place in FL...still working with elephants amazing!! It was wonderful seeing these elephant guys from back in the 70's again!

CW Reunion #8

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010

CW Reunion #9

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010 The beautiful and talented Tory Cross!! Still as gorgeous and fun and sweet as ever!!

CW Reunion #10

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010...Again...the original 3 partners in crime from the CW days.... I love these ladies!

CW Reunion #11

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010 and again

CW Reunion #12

Circus World Reunion Feb 2010 You know the dancers always hogging the like us elephant and magic show girls.. and guys.

From Bud Copeland

ULTRABUDAFOON, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.


Hea Buckaroo ;
One more Year under your belt .
Hope you hada Happy Day - Bud

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chang #10 (From Eric Beheim)

chang-10, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Even after the jungle is cleared of predatory cats, Kru’s rice patch is ruined by “chang” the jungle beast feared above all others. (“Chang” is the Laotian word for elephant.)

Another pit is dug and the chang that is trapped turns out to be a baby.

Chang #11

chang-11, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Hoping to eventually train the calf to become a work elephant, Kru ties it to one of the poles supporting his house.

Chang #12

chang-12, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

When the mother elephant comes to rescue her calf, Kru and his family must flee to a nearby village. In her fury, the mother completely destroys their house.

Chang #13

chang-13, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

No sooner does Kru and his family reach the village, when a herd of wild elephants comes crashing out of the jungle. (To film the charging herd from ground level, Schoedsack had a pit dug and covered with heavy logs. A low turret of logs was built in the center so that the camera could be placed above ground level. A herd of wild elephants was driven toward and over the covered pit, result in one of the film’s most spectacular scenes.)

Chang #14

chang-14, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

The herd rampages through the village and destroys it completely. (During the film’s New York engagement, this sequence was projected in “Magnascope” with the screen opening from its normal size to full proscenium width. Concealed behind the screen were “thunder-drums” which were used to emphasize the tumult of the stampede.)

Chang #15

chang-15, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Led by Kru, the natives build a stockade and drive the elephant herd into it.

Chang #16

chang-16, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Most of the herd is captured.

Chang #17

chang-17, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Likely candidates are then selected to be trained as work elephants.

Chang #18

chang-18, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

As his share of the drive, Kru receives his own elephant.

Chang #19

chang-19, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

The film ends with Kru using his elephant to rebuild his house. Produced for $60,000, CHANG was enormously successful and influenced such later films such as BRING ‘EM BACK ALIVE, TARZAN OF THE APES, and KING KONG. It is now available on DVD and can be requested through NETFLIX.

Another Glitch!

I have the concluding pictures from the Chang Movie ready to go but for some reason, part of left column is missing and I'll have to wait until Shannon arrives. to restore order.
Speaking of glitches, I went to renew my drivers license recently, aware that changes had been made and more identification is now required. I have gone thru 75 years on this planet as William Howard Woodcock Jr. now after sending to Lancaster, Missouri, I find that the "H" actually stands for Hoogewaning, as an act of gratitude to Aunt Nellie's husband who had bank rolled the elephant seen in yesterday's birthday picture.
This deal ended with the elephant being repossessed, hard feelings and in retaliation Uncle Hoagie's name was marked thru and replaced with "Howard" as originally planned.
So to make a long story longer, my renewal was refused, a 30 day extension granted on my now expired license and yesterday afternoon was spent in Tampa at the Social Security Office getting that document squared away.
I complained at each office, "Where were you 55 years ago when I needed you? Despite these gross violations, the U.S. Government drafted me and sent my ass to Korea!

Friday, February 26, 2010

75 Years Ago!

Scan12621, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Where has the time flown?

From Paul Gutheil

mae west, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.





Beatty - Cole 1970 (From Jim Cole)

Beatty - Cole 1970, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

1970 Circus Season Part 2

Fred Logan & Omi

Fred Logan & Omi, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Another circus infant.

Robert Cline & Fred Logan

Robert Cline & Fred Logan, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

King Bros elephant truck 1970. later destroyed in wreck

King Bros. Band, big top

Kennedy Swain in the center with Snooks Swain at the drums.

Paul Duke & King Bros Elephants, 1970

"Sidney", "Konti" and "Ola"

From Adam Hill #1

This is "Tina" and "Jewel" while under my care, as you can see they were well taken care of.

From Adam Hill #2

From Adam Hill #3

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chang #1 (From Eric Beheim)

chang-1, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Following the commercial and artistic success of their 1925 feature-length documentary GRASS, filmmakers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (who would later produce KING KONG) set about producing another “natural drama” CHANG. Its theme would be man’s conflict with the jungle. For their location, Cooper and Schoedsack selected the Laotian Province of Nan in Northeast Siam (now Thailand), said to be the most remote jungle in the world. (To get there, the filmmakers had to travel by horseback, on foot and by log canoe. The journey included sixty-seven river crossings.)

Chang #2

chang-2, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

While on location, the production team lived in huts on stilts (to protect them from wild animals) and endured the same hardships and dangers as the natives. (Schoedsack suffered from malaria for most of the 14 months he was on location.)

An attractive Laotian family was selected for the principal players, and production got under way using a rough story outline that was flexible enough to allow the inclusion of actual situations that developed during filming.

Chang #3

chang-3, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Comic relief was provided by the family’s pet, a white gibbon ape.

Chang #4

chang-4, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

No telephoto lenses were used, and the wild animal scenes were all filmed at close range. Schoedsack cranked the camera while Cooper stood close by with a rifle.

Chang #5

chang-5, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

One of the opening title cards identifies the “cast” in this unique manner.

Chang #6

chang-6, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

After his family’s goat is killed by a leopard and his water buffalo is killed by a tiger, tribesman Kru bands together with his neighbors to hunt down the tigers and leopards in their area.

Chang #7

chang-7, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

In addition to snares, nets and deadfalls, deep pits are dug.

Chang #8

chang-8, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

During the hunt, Kru is chased up a tree by a tiger.

Chang #9

chang-9, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

(To film the tiger from Kru’s point of view, Schoedsack placed his camera on a platform 15 feet up a tree. To elicit a response from the tiger, he gave it a “Bronx cheer.” While the camera was rolling, the tiger clawed its way up the tree to within inches of the lens.)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Federal Racketeering Lawsuit Stuns Humane Society

You may have missed our New Year’s Eve exposé covering the dismissal of a federal lawsuit pushed by a consortium of animal rights groups that included the deceptive Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The groups alleged that Feld Entertainment (the parent company of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) mistreated elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act, but in December a judge tossed out the lawsuit. Now the plot thickens: The circus is suing HSUS, two HSUS lawyers, and a number of other animal rights organizations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. (The lawsuit is exclusively available at

The original animal rights lawsuit, filed more than nine years ago, was based on information provided by a former Ringling elephant “barn helper” named Tom Rider. After Rider left his circus job, he was paid by animal rights groups to testify about the supposedly “bad” treatment of elephants there. In all, the original lawsuit’s plaintiffs paid Rider more than $190,000—his sole source of income for years—while the litigation made its way through the court system.

Sound a bit like pay-for-play? As Judge Emmet Sullivan noted in his December ruling that dismissed the animal rights groups’ lawsuit: “The Court finds that Mr. Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony…. [T]he primary purpose [for the payments] is to keep Mr. Rider involved with the litigation…”

Based on Judge Sullivan’s finding, Feld is suing everyone who played a part in this collaborative scheme (hence the “racketeering” aspect). This includes Rider and a nonprofit “Wildlife Advocacy Project” charity that the Washington, DC law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal allegedly used to launder money between their plaintiff clients and Rider.

One of these clients putting up dough to support Rider was the Fund for Animals, which merged with HSUS in 2004.

Feld is leveling bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice, and money laundering charges against HSUS and two of its corporate attorneys, three other animal rights groups, Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, and all three of that firm’s named partners. It’s an earth-shattering lawsuit. Today we’re telling the media:

America’s farmers, ranchers, hunters, fishermen, research scientists, fashion designers, and restaurateurs have seen for decades how the animal rights movement can behave like a mobbed-up racket. But it’s still shocking to see the evidence laid out on paper. In a treble-damage lawsuit like this, a jury could actually do the humane thing and finally put HSUS out of business completely.

You can read the full, 135-page lawsuit over at HumaneWatch. It’s worth more than a glance. If these allegations are proven true, HSUS employees might be finding themselves walking the same breadline they’ve tried to put so many others in.

Feld is suing:

  • The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS);
  • The Fund for Animals (which merged with HSUS in 2004);
  • Jonathan Lovvorn, an attorney employed by HSUS;
  • Kimberly Ockene, an attorney employed by HSUS;
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA);
  • The Animal Welfare Institute;
  • The Animal Protection Institute (d/b/a/ Born Free USA);
  • Tom Rider (a discredited witness in a recently dismissed lawsuit against Feld, who a judge ruled was paid at least $190,000 for his testimony);
  • Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal (the outside law firm which handled that lawsuit against Feld);
  • Katherine Meyer (of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal);
  • Eric Glitzenstein (of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal);
  • Howard Crystal (of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal); and
  • The Wildlife Advocacy Project (a nonprofit organization founded and managed by Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, which was used as a pass-through vehicle to allow animal rights groups to pay Tom Rider for his discredited testimony against Feld).

This Morning's Tampa Tribune!

Scan12620, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Ringling Barnum TIGER TITLE (1942)

From Chris Berry

As Richard Reynolds pointed out in a previous posting - in addition to the Bel Geddes designed lithos, billposters for the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus of 1942 also had more "traditional" images in their hods. This is one of the "workhorse" posters that first appeared in 1942 and continued to be used for several seasons to follow. Variations of Richard's hippo poster, this piece, and some others were also printed in much larger sizes to be pasted on walls and billboards.

Zebras #1 (From Richard Reynolds)

!cid_X_MA1_1266950318@aol, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Here is a fine view of one of RBBB's great zebra herds around 1930. John Ringling had an affinity for them and in 1927 imported a herd of 20 to go with six or so already on hand. Breeding was successful and the herd grew over the years.

In this photo the Grevys would be at the far left.

The late Gordon Potter of St. Joseph, MI, counted and recorded everything he saw on all the circuses he visited from the late 1920s through the early 1940s, including the zebras. He reported zebra herds on RBBB as follows - - 1928 (25), 1931 (26), 1932 (31), 1933 (23). The herd was cut down to 11 for 1934 as the show sent ten of them to Hagenbeck-Wallace, likely kept more in quarters, and otherwise disposed of some.

This photo was almost certainly taken in Chicago where, during its annual 8 or 9 day stand, the circus had enough spare time to pose a photo like this, outside the menagerie tent. Harry Atwell must have been the photographer. Much of our photo record of RBBB from this time came through the lens of Atwell's cameras.

Today, it is hard to believe that one circus would carry so many zebras.

Zebras #2

!cid_X_MA1_1266950164@aol, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Richard Reynolds

Now this is a herd of zebras. RBBB, 1928. There should be 25 of them.

The three at the bottom are Grevys - - very distinctive with their narrow pin stripes. They are the largest and handsomest of the zebras. They can be mean as heck - - sometimes truly savage. And, they are very endangered, occurring as they do in a limited hardscrabble area of northern Kenya and Ethiopia.

It is named after Jules Grevy, president of France who was given one by the Menelik of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1882. It was pronounced a new species, though the ancients of the Mediterranean world were familiar with it.

Just to put that into perspective, when Barnum was dickering for the acquisition of Jumbo from the London Zoo, the Grevy zebra was unknown to science. It is rather amazing that an animal so large and striking was so late in being "discovered."

RBBB usually had a couple of Grevy zebras from the mid-1920s up until the 1942 Cleveland menagerie fire and some even after WWII.

Zebras #3

!cid_X_MA1_1266948628@aol, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

Richard Reynolds

The Great Zebra Chase, Atlanta, GA,Thursday afternoon February 18, 2010.

RBBB-Red's "Lima", is on the loose. Here we see him running along the downtown connector (I-75/85). Luckily for Lima, he got to the expressway right at the peak of rush hour traffic so the cars were just crawling along.

The latter part of the chase was covered live by cameras in TV helicopters.

In their live feed, the remarks by the TV commentators indicted they did not know the origin of the zebra until the trailer and truck showed up with the circus title on the truck

Zebras #4

!cid_X_MA1_1266949336@aol, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.