Monday, October 31, 2005


In scanning over the past weeks items, I came across one I intended to respond to but forgot.
It regards Ralph Helfer's elephant "Wallace Show Modoc" that Anonymous cited as having lived longer than the 70 year old "Gentry Babe" that I wrote of, citing Mr. Helfer's book.
In 1939 the Ringling Show left Sarasota with 44 elephants that included three with the same name "Big Modoc", "Little Modoc" and "Wallace Modoc". The oldest was "Little Modoc" having gone back to Ringling Bros. Circus in Baraboo before the turn of the century and who died in Sarasota in the mid 1940's making her about 55 at the time of her death.
"Big Modoc" was a very famous elephant and featured with RBBB for many years. She started out with the Leon Washburn Show in 1905, joined the Ringling Show in 1931 and remained with that show throughout it's under canvas years and died in Sarasota in Jan. of 1957 at approxemately 60.
The third "Modoc", the one that Mr. Helfer wound up with and wrote the book about was a rather non discript animal usually called "One Eyed Modoc" being blind in one eye. She was imported by the American Circus Corporation in 1922 and toured with such shows as Gollmar Bros., John Robinson, Hagenbeck-Wallace and Al G. Barnes before coming to the Ringling Show.
Afterward she was with Biller Bros., the Memphis Zoo, Africa USA in Saugus, Ca., Africa USA in Fillmore, Ca. and finally to the Anderson Animal Farm in Buellton, Ca.
Since she died in 1972, that would have made her 55 if that, at her time of death.
Helfer took the libety of including Little Modoc's Baraboo years, Big Modoc's glory years with the Ringling Show and incorporating them into his elephants history for use in his book.
That he would do this, either thru ignorance or greed is unknown, but that the mighty Guinness Book of World Records would simply take his word for her age is ridiculous.
In fact his "Mococ" probably had the shorftest life span of the three.

Big Apple Circus (Lincoln Center) #1

Big Apple Circus (Lincoln Center) #2

Big Apple Circus (Lincoln Center ) #3

Big Apple Circus (Lincoln Center) #4

Sunday, October 30, 2005

New Heading

I had completely forgotten that Jimmy Cole took the above picture while visiting me with the Polack Show in Albany in 1966 almost 40 years ago. He says that he distinctly remembers me saying at the time that if the picture turns out OK, I might use it on my Blog Site some day.
The elephants are "Kae", "Jean", "Anna May", "Millie" and "Opal".
The most remarkable thing about this picture is that when Shannon showed it to me after he had erased the audience and ring curb, I was horrified to see that he had also erased Kae's tail. Rather than do the whole thing over again, he simply clicked on to Jean's tail and slid it over.

Downie Bros. parade trucks #1

Charlie Sparks the owner of this show was a great believer in the daily street parade and found that the most ordinany equipment could be included if it was well decorated. The benches on top indicate that this is some sort of bandwagon. Who ever did the art work was truly outstanding.

Downie Bros. parade trucks #2

Downie Bros. parade trucks #3

Downie Bros. parade trucks #4

Kinko (Glen Sunberry)

This is Kinko working at the Clyde Beatty Park at Ft.Lauderdale in 1942. PINKY INDEED!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

Still more problems

At last I finally got the pictures sent off but for some reason unable to include the text.
From work Shannon contacted the Blog people and I received this message "Please try clearing
your Browser's Cache and Cookies" Why didn't they say that in the first place?
My wife thinks it's from my Escort Service.

I'll try to type in the comments later if possible.

Barnum Items #1

They actually did an act like this called "the leaps" and was performed by all the acrobats on the show but with only four or five elephants. It was a house act made possible by a clause in the participants contracts called "generally useful".
There was a springboard at the bottom of the ramp and as you can see after completing a leap they would all quickly return and remount the ramp.
At first the obsticle would be just one elephant, then for the next jump a second would be added and so on. The most amusing thing was that each leaper tried to look unique, one would be dressed like a "Rabbi" another was "Uncle Sam" and yet another was "Aunt Jemima".
In 1950 Concello rehashed the leaps for which Merle Evans band played "The Storming of El Caney", the music was better than the act.
Another "generally useful" act was the Aerial Bars with the flyers doubling in brass.

Barnum Items #2

Barnum Items #3

There is something in error in the text above, Bailey was not affiliated with Barnum until 1881.
Did horseless carriages go back as far as 1876? Either the title is wrong or the date.
I would suppose that the driver H.G. Wells in those days would comparable to an Airline Pilot today.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

CircusWorld Museum 1985 #1

Hard to believe 20 years have elapsed since these pictures were taken. It was a full days work at Baraboo, seven days a week. First thing in the morning was a training session for the public in the Moeller Hippodrome, it was 90 per cent conversation, then off to the elephant ride, the 10:00 performance in the big top and so forth. We were on the go all day and for about a month we did an extra performance in the evening.

Circus World Museum 1985 #2

This event was held in front of the grandstand and we started by raising the center pole you see in the background. "Toto" would push this wagon into position and then with a collar chain, pull a stake from the ground that had been driven.
This little show didn't last but about ten minutes and of all the activities we did during the day I enjoyed this one the most and the elephant ride the least, pure drudgery.

Circus World Museum 1985 #3

"Toto" would next unload this quarter pole, I had never seen it done this way with a circus but people seemed to enjoy it. At right are Shannon and Dalilah.

We would alternate elephants each year between the Museum and the Big Apple Circus, this season Ben would have had "Anna May" with Big Apple. All in all we were 8 years in Baraboo and 19 with Big Apple.

Circus World Museum 1985 #4

Also in the every day scheduele was the daily street parade around the grounds. Elephants are "Peggy". "Toto" and "Mac" pulling the cage.
My biggest disappointment in Baraboo was not being able to spend more time in the Library. When business dropped off after Labor Day I would go up there as often as I could and on each occasion Bob Parkinson would explain to me how to open and close a book without damaging the spine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bizarre messages

The one bad thing about receiving messages on this Blog Site is that I first become aware of them on my regular eMail Site and often have no idea what they pertain to without scrolling down and clicking on the messages until I come across it.
Today I received an invitation to enjoy an escort service. Would that appear in the messages listed for the birth of "Baby Bridgeport" drawing?
Another was the statement "Feld Enterprises probably owns the St. Armonds Circle" maybe some of you saw that. What a strange thing to say, they certainly didn't buy any plaques that I am aware of. I wrote that company with hopes of acquiring money for Harold Ronk's award and got the same response others have gotten on behalf Charly Baumann.
When Barbara and I were selected I was completely unaware that someone had to come up with the $2,500. The first I learned of it was when my good friend Rick Pfening asked us if he could provide the funds, a gesture I have always appreciated, his name is included on the plaque as the sponsor.
At the ceremony when we were thanking him, he shrugged it off by saying "I always wanted to remain on St. Armonds Circle in perpetuity". That's quite a while.

Arthur Bros. Circus 1945

Just as I was about to take up bird watching as a hobby, Shannon tried something different. I have to type in a code like the CIA, so far so good. For your patience here is a photo of the show on a lot in California in 1945, tho now on rails, it looks to be the same size top as the year before. If you will scroll down you can see I completed yesterday's text.

Arthur Bros. Circus 1944 #1

All I know aboht this show is what I read in Bandwagon, as I recall the owner was a promoter named Martin Arthur. Pretty neat the way he got Tom Mix's name on the show, four years after his death.
They must have done well because the show was put on rails for the 1945 season using Hagenbeck-Wallace equipment that had sat in California since that show folded in 1938.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Arthur Bros. Circus 1944 #2

In it's few years of existance the show had managed to acquire 6 elephants here we see the widely traveled "Gentry Babe" ridden by Betty Acevedo.
The show had amassed 6 elephants in all "Shirley Temple" came from the Kellogg Estate in LA, "Wlhelmina" a former Ringling elephant was leased from Louis Goebel, "Bonnie" and "India" we remember from Bud E. Anderson and "Vera" who came from Jimmy Hamiter was given 30 days to get rid of his elephant and report to the Army. To run things Cheerful Gardner was hired, his glory days with Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus now just a memory.
Richard Reynolds and I have decided that Gentry Babe was the only elephant definately proven to be at least 70 years of age at the time of her death in 1967.
1900 Imported from Hagenbeck Zoo
1900-16 Gentry Bros. Circus
1917-23 GentryBros. Circus (Newman and Austin)
1924 Christy Bros. Circus
1925-27 Lee Bros. Circus (Christy's #2 unit)
1928-30 Christy Bros. Circus
1931-32 Christy Quarters
1935-38 Tom Mix Circus
1939-41 Bud E. Anderson Circus
1942 Atterbury Bros. Circus (Leased from Anderson)
1943-45 Arthur Bros. Circus
1946-49 Seal Bros. Ciorcus (Anderson)
1950-53 Wallace & Clark Circus (Luke Anderson)
1954 Pan American Circus (Leased from Anderson)
1955-67 Gene Holter Animal Shows
(Died of old age 5/18/67)

Arthur Bros. Circus 1944 #3

This is the famous horse tainer Jergen Christiansen of whom I have sent out many pictures including some with Ringling-Barnum in the 1920's and the big 24 horse libety act with Cole Bros. Circus.
Years later after my dad had his own elephant act we were booked on a series of dates that included Mr. Christiansen's mixed act of horse, pony, zebu, llama and dog. He and my dad hit off right away and I would listen to them talk about the old days and it was a treat.

Arthur Bros. Circus 1944 #4

Here's the big top being raised, it's about half way up the center poles, the canvas looks brand new. At left the pole wagon has the customary grooves on top in which the center poles rested. The show must have done very well since they went out on rails in 1945 taking advantage of the Hagenbeck-Wallace equipment that had been sitting out in California since it folded in 1938.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Diano Bros. Circus 1953 #1

I'm up early this morning, we are getting the outer bands of "Wilma" but it's not too bad.
This is the street parade with Barbara riding "Myrtle" in the lead. The unique thing being that rather than ride horses, Rex Williams and Jimmy Kaaro rode these two African elephants to patrol the herd.
The show had 15 elephants "Myrtle", "Jenny", "Cutie", "Luna", "Hank", "Tommy", "Tex" and "Virginia" all from the Dailey Show, the other seven were owned by Tony Diano "Mysore", "Calcutta", "Katy", "Tusko", "Betty", "Nackatala" and "Uganda".

Diano Bros. Circus 1953 #2

I asked Barbara what was wrong with her legs and she said it was sun burn from the previous days parade.
Elephants are "Tex", "Virginia", "Tommy" (owned by Ben Davenport) "Mysore", "Calcutta" (owned by Tony Diano). I also asked her why they had bracelets on "Tom" and she said that as far as she knew, he never made a crooked move but Ben was convinced he was well due to start bulling at any time. In fact he was so sure that he sold "Tommy" to Diano when the season closed and was greatly relieved to be rid of him.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Disaster strikes the big top

Shannon came over and changed the oil and replaced the spark plugs on the computer since I was unable to get the final pictutre on the screen. Something about changing the browser ,whatever that means, and re-booting something.
Finally got picture #1 on but tomorrow is another day, awaiting are pictures of Barbara in her teens with the 1953 Diano Bros. Circus but I am at the mercy of Bill Gates.

Al G. Barmes/ Parade carriages #1

Had a problem with the Browser to today, what ever that is, it took Shannon quite a while to get me back in action. Something about re-booting something.
Anyway here is picture #1 finally.

Al G. Barnes Circus/ Parade carriages #2

Al G. Barnes Circus/ Parade carriages #3

You Baraboobians will recognize this picture as coming from the set taken there Aug. 10, 1917. Nice looking llama hitch.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lucia Zora #1

Lucia Zora was the wife of Fred Alispaw who was in charge of the Sells-Floto elephants from 1909 to 1917. She was indeed the Elephant Empress of the day.

Lucia Zora #2

Lucia Zora #3

Lucia Zora #4

While Mlle Zora certainly had prowess over her animals, during this photo-op I sense that her heart and soul really wasn't into feeding that hippo.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Matthew Scott #1

I'm sure these pictures of Jumbo in the London Zoo come as no surprise but I thought you might find a few comments on his long time keeper Matthew Scott interesting.

Matthew Scott #2

I wonder of Scotty had to cut 50 per cent with the Shriners?

Matthew Scott #3

This looks to be Scott standing beneath Jumbo's chin, with him until the end.
The next season 1886, the show imported an adult African elephant named "Alice" advertised as Jumbo's widow and Scott is listed in the Route Book as her attendant. In a later Route Book he was "Keeper of the dogs" but remained with the show at least until Barnum's death in 1891, especially since in storage there existed a large chest bequeathed to Scott with instructions that it not be opened until after Barnum's funeral. Scott could only assume it was filled with precious jewels.
P. T. Barnum like most wealthy men, liked to boast about his achievements and had a book printed discribing his genius that was sold on the show and updated over the years. As a young man the title would be something like "The Art of Money Getting" but as he grew older and more genteel, it became "Struggles and Triumphs".
You could imagine Scott's shock when he opened the chest and discovered it was filled with back issues of Barnum's book.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ken Maynard Wild West 1936 #1

This is not a circus style Side Show but what was called a "10 in 1" on carnival midways. None the less it served the same purpose and as you can see, everything was freshly lettered and painted from hoof to helmet.

Ken Maynard Wild West 1936 #1

First Class looking show. Even the office people wore neckties.

Ken Maynard Wild West 1936 #3

Would it be so awful to have the Ken & Nicole band dressed like this? Even plumes on the caps? Maybe the keyboards would rub on the buttons.

Ken Maynard Wild West 1936 #4

This is the opening Spec with a Wild West show and as you can see the performance is held in a square open area with seats on three sides that are covered by a canopy. After the 101 Ranch Show folded in 1931 due to the Depression, none of these type shows in the 1930's were successful, this one only lasting one season, the most notable failure was Col. Tim McCoy's Real Wild West. The only exception was the Tom Mix Circus which appeared in a conventional circus style big top.

In 1934 the mighty Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus carried 31 elephants marching single file in a daily parade. The following winter however, they shipped 11 out to the Al G. Barnes Circus wintering in California (both shows were owned by Ringling). Walter McLain added 4 to the Barnes Show bringing that herd up to 20 and Louis Goebel bought two of the remaining seven that were kept in quarters "Queen" and "Sally". In 1936 he leased them to Mr. Maynard as seen above.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ken Maynard #1

I have a lot of pictures of Western Movie actor Ken Maynard as well as his 1936 Wild West Show, so I decided to run four today and four more tomorrow.

Ken Maynard #2

Ken Maynard with Cole Bros. Circus posing with famouis equestrian Dorothy Herbert.

Ken Maynard #3

George Christy closed his circus immediately in 1930 with the first effects of the Great Depression. Here we see Mr. Christy in 1936 selling the remaining equipment to Ken Maynard.
I might add that a good number of these wagons remain in Baraboo today.

Ken Maynard #4

Christy retained three elephants "Daisy", "Dixie" and "Myrtle" plus a Liberty act from his circus that were leased out on Shrine dates, Fairs, etc. The elephants eventually wound up with Kelly-Miller and I remember them well. Here we see "Daisy" loading up the equipment Mr. Maynard had purchased, on to system flat cars.

Tomorrow I'll include pictures of the Ken Maynard Wild West Show on the lot.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Barbara and "Odin"

This is one of Barbara's favorite pictures.