And yet you can’t help getting stuck on the animals, and a man gets stuck on the kind of animal that is most like him. The grizzly old granger, who never buttons the collar of his shirt, and whose Adam’s apple looks like a hen’s head, will stay by the camels, hours at a time, the pious church man feels at home among the sacred cattle, the strong-arm holdup man will linger by the grizzly bear, the prize-fighter will haunt the lions’ den, the garroter will gaze lovingly at the tigers, the sneak thief seems to love the hyenas, and the big game hunters watch the deer and elk. Some of us who have brains love the monkeys, they are so human.
The Rings Are So Muddy the
Performers Have to Wear Rubber Boots—The
Freaks Present Pa with a Big Heart of Roses—The Show Closes and the
Bad Boy Starts West with His Pa in Search of Attractions for the
Well, Missouri is the state to teach a circus humility, and we have taken the thirty-third degree in the last ten days. It has rained nine days and a half out of a possible ten days, and the mud is something we never dreamed of before. The wagons have been mired in the mud on the way from the train to the lot every day in the streets of cities big enough to have street cars and electric lights. The cities have one or two main streets paved, but the rest of the streets are just virgin soil, and you have got to swim to get to the paved streets. When you start away for the lot, it is like Washington crossing the Delaware.
And yet the people come from miles around to see the show, and everybody rides a web-footed mule, that can wallow in the mud. They hitch the mules to fences outside the tent, and while the performance is going on the mules bray in concert and drown the band.
Pa has been wild ever since we struck Missouri, and no wonder, ’cause everybody seems to lay everything in the way of weather on him. Every place we show the lot is one sea of mud, and when we get the rings made they seem like a chain of lakes, and in galloping around the rings the horses splash mud and water clear to the reserved seats. The riders of the horses have to come out in rubber hunting boots and when they get on the horses we have to pull their boots off and hold them until the act is over, then the riders sit on the horses and pull the boots on and get down in the mud of the ring and bow to the audience.
The woman riders are the worst to wear rubber boots, ’cause they fall down in the mud and spoil their dresses and kick scandalous, The trapeze performers have to be carried out of the dressing room on stretchers, and hoisted up to the net, ’cause they can’t do stunts up on the trapeze with wet feet, and we have worked ourselves to death getting things in shape.