Saturday, July 08, 2017

#10 Parade Wagons


Roger Smith said...

On the other side was an elephant facing the other way. This wagon finished its days out here in the Goebel compound. The elephants were removed and served to bookend the main entrance titles, first of World Jungle Compound, and later Jungleland. We later learned that once we closed, the elephants were at last restored to this wagon under extensive conservation efforts at CWM.

4pawfan said...

Roger there are three of these Elephant Tab wagons.

This is the Sells-Floto wagon that is still at the Ringling. It has been a long time since I have seen it, but it is still the oldest unrestored wagon I can think of. It used to have it's original copper roof the last time I saw it many years ago. It was on Sells-Floto from about 1906 until 1925 when the corp shows dropped their parades. Jess Adkins saved the wagon when it was on the great Hagenbeck-Wallace parades in 1933-1934. It was saved again by Mrs Charlie Ringling when Johnny was burning the wagons in Peru. Chalmer Condon who was the local school supt. in Peru and circus fan contacted Mrs. Charlie to save some of the more important wagons before they are all burned. Mrs Charlie had been on the road with Ringling show from about 1889 to 1950. A few car loads of wagons are saved and shipped to Sarasota. Some of the wagons are used in spec on the show, but others sit in winter quarters in the Florida sun. Both the Sparks and later the Al.G Barnes equipment rotted away in prior years at the quarters.

J. North had no connection to these wagons or their history as Mrs. Ringling did. She had always been on the road her entire adult life, except part of the year that Charlie passed away.
She was still part owner of the circus up to the time of her death. (Half of Charlie's share when they are married and his entire share after Charlie passes.)
Sometime during 1944, all of these wagons (except those used on the show) are moved to the garages of the John Ringling estate. ( I have often wondered if she had them moved because of the fear of losing them from lawsuits regarding the fire and wanted to save them for future generations.)

Anyways, she was part owner of the show ( and was controlling it at the time which is an important legal issue ), and she moved/gave them to the state before her death. Moved them to the property of John's estate, land belonging to the state of Florida... NO ONE ELSE could have made that decision except the owner of the property (Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey) and Johnny North couldn't have cared less in 1944 as he was not in control. If you are interested in North's history, please read the Harvard Law Review "Ringling Bros-Barnum and Bailey v. Ringling, Bad Appoints and Empty Core Cycling at the Circus".

Mrs. Charlie passes away in 1953 and Mr. Sullivan ( who is a circus fan and later has the Circus Hall of Fame in Sarasota) finds the wagons at the Ringling home and the circus museum is opened up in the garages on the estate. ( The Rolls Royce cars are another story as nothing of the John Ringling estate is to be given or sold and the cars are sold and are worth more then the 10.00 each. I have sent photos in the past to the blog of these cars sitting in the garage.)

Sullivan later moves down the street and starts the Hall of Fame. Mel Miller and Joe Mc Kennon later volunteer and built the Backyard Scene in the 1960's and the museum is coming along and has a great group of volunteers. But back to the World Jungle Compound Elephant carvings.....

The ones from Calif are the ones from the Barnes show. Jimmy Woods had the carvings from the second Elephant Tab after the Barnes shows dropped the parade in 1924 and the elephants from the wagon go to World Jungle Compound. These two carvings later go to Baraboo and the great staff in Baraboo built the "new" Al G Barnes Elephant tab.

The third Elephant tab was on Hagenbeck-Wallace and was a longer wagon then the Sells-Floto tab or the Barnes tab.

From my letters and notes from Harold Dunn and Joe McKennon
Please note, I am not an attorney or legal expert

Roger Smith said...

PJ: The Barnes show elephants--right. As I say, I'm not the most astute wagon man, and need to re-compare the AGB carvings Jimmy Woods had. They did look great up there on our sign, and I'm glad they went where they were respected. Most of what we lost to the auctioneer was simply sold and scattered.

And yes, I found and read the Harvard work on the Ringling legal tangles. An excellent article about this ran in 1947, in FORTUNE magazine, titled "Ringling Wrangling".