Monkeytown Memories

By Carol D. Smith

In 1943, my parents, my older brother and I moved into a house in the 800 block on Lincoln Street in an area of Galesburg commonly know as ''Monkeytown.'' This triangle of land was formed by the Santa Fe Railroad tracks to the South, Farnham Street to the East and Lincoln Street to the West, and was largely occupied by Swedish families. Many of the men worked for the railroads and carried Swedish pancakes called ''Ragg Munkar'' in their lunch pails. To the non-Swedish speaking men, the word ''Munkar'' sounded like the word ''Monkey,'' therefore, these men who carried and ate ''Ragg Munkar'' lived in ''Monkeytown.''

Ours was a neighborhood filled with children, some pre-World War II and quite a few ''Baby Boomers.'' One family had 10 children, which included a set of triplets. Girls outnumbered the boys, but we all played together. All of the houses had large backyards that were bordered by the fence around O.N. Custer Park. Men's teams played softball games at night, so the yards were lit up quite late. We would play ''Hide and Seek'' or ''Ghost'' throughout all the yards and no one ever yelled at us to stay out of their yard. All of the parents kept an eye on their children and everyone else's children as well.

When we wanted to play with a friend, we stood outside their back door and called their name. We never knocked until they or their parents came to the door. We did not play inside each other's houses, we played in the yards or on someone's porch when it rained.

Our summers were always happy, fun-filled days. The boys would spend most of their days playing baseball at the park. We girls played house with our dolls or played with paper dolls. We had so many paper dolls, everything from babies to brides and grooms. The popular female movie stars always became paper dolls. Of course, we had to spend a lot of time cutting the clothes out with scissors. Most of us had clamp-on roller skates, but we had brick sidewalks, not good for skating. Farther up on Lincoln Street, five or six houses near the corner of Williams Street had cement walks, so this became our skating area.

The summer of the terrible polio outbreak (I don't remember the year) was a very scary summer for all of us, parents and children alike. We were not allowed to leave our own yard, so we would sit, not more than a foot apart, in our own yards, reading comics and talking back and forth.

There were no houses across the street from us, as this was the embankment for the railroad tracks. Steam locomotives pulled the trains and sent great clouds of smoke and cinders into the air. Most of the children were blonde headed, so when we heard that whistle blowing and that ''chugachug,'' we ran for cover to keep cinders out of our eyes and hair. Mom said she could see every little black speck. If she had sheets hanging on the clothesline, she would hurry and take them down before they were peppered with cinders. The houses would shake and the windows would rattle when the trains came roaring into town. I still miss that ''feeling'' and the noise today.

All of the kids of ''Monkeytown'' attended Farnham Grade School. Everyone lived close enough to walk to school in the morning, home for lunch, back for afternoon classes and home when school was over for the day. But we never had to walk to school alone because when we got to a friend's house, they would join us. By the time we got to Farnham Street bridge there would be a group of nine or ten kids, talking, playing tag or the boys teasing the girls. It is a wonder that we made it to school on time. We did not carry lunch to school except on very bad days. We never had ''snow days.'' We went to school every day, no matter what the weather was. In winter, the girls were allowed to wear slacks or jeans under their dresses or skirts but had to remove them when we got inside the classroom.

Our neighborhood had what I consider the first ''convenience'' store in Galesburg. At the corner of Lincoln and Losey Streets is a building that was a gas station in one half and a grocery store in the other half. In later years the wall between the two was removed, and the couple who owned the building and lived upstairs ran both the gas station and grocery store. Mother would give us a list to take to the store for the day's groceries. Once there, they would take the list, gather the items called for and put them in a sack. We would tell them, ''Mom said to put it on the bill, please.''

The gas station half was a wonderful place for a child. It had a ''gigantic'' candy counter full of every kind of candy in the world, or so it seemed to us. For just a penny, you could get three cinnamon balls, lemon drops or root beer barrels. There was bubble gum, licorice, jaw-breakers, caramels, suckers and so much more. It was hard to choose the five or ten cents worth you had to pick. At Halloween time, you could buy red wax lips, a black wax moustache or white wax buck teeth for a penny. For a nickel, you could buy an orange wax harmonica that had Halloween designs on it. In summer, we would by Fudgesicles, ice cream bars or ''Twin Pops,'' a popsicle that you could break apart and share with a friend.

Another special place we liked was outside of our neighborhood but within walking distance. It was Highlanders ice cream stand on Arnold Street between Summit and North Streets. It was built onto the front of a house, so you did not go inside but placed your order at the window, just like the Dairy Queen that would come to town a few years later. They had the best ice cream cones, one big scoop for five cents and two big scoops for ten cents. Sometimes you would find a piece of paper in the bottom of your cone, if you had not already eaten it, that could be returned for a free cone. At the end of each school year, the teachers at Farnham School would take their class to Highlanders and buy each child an ice cream cone. What a treat from a teacher!

These are just a few of the wonderful memories of that special place I was so lucky to live in and grow up in, ''Monkeytown.''


Carl Sandburg Plants a Tree at Lombard

by Steve Stout

During the final journey of his life back to his small hometown, an 80 year-old, internationally famous, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author interrupts a busy schedule to plant a tree and to pose with some children for photographs at a school he had abandoned, without explanation, nearly 60 years before. The date was October 6, 1958. The school was Lombard Junior High in Galesburg. The man, of course, was Carl Sandburg and I, having just turned six, was one of the children.

Even at such a young age, this man's importance had been so impressed upon me, and his actual presence was so exciting, that 40 years later the memory of meeting him is still alive in my mind. But as I've grown older, a different thought strikes me: why? Why did Sandburg detour to a return to a school he had left mysteriously, nearly on the eve of graduation? And why a tree? Although an ardent environmentalist before the term was even invented, the poet was hardly in the habit of planting trees in symbolic places. And why the children? Sandburg, loving father, storyteller extraordinaire and author of best-selling children's books, nonetheless reportedly rarely posed with small strangers. So the question returns: why? Perhaps he was merely a nostalgic old man looking to reconnect, or reconcile with his past. Perhaps, in today's parlance, his ''handlers'' simply wanted to stage a ''photo op.'' Maybe. But I keep thinking: might there have been a message he was trying to tell us?

Lately, I've been thinking about Lombard, my old junior high school in Galesburg, thanks to EBay, the hugely popular auction house on the Internet. While on-line recently, I discovered a sterling spoon engraved with an intricate etching of a Lombard College building among the millions of bid items on the service. Over the course of several days, I placed several different bids for the item and ultimately, I won the 100 year-old souvenir spoon with the highest offer.

The package arrived through insured mail a few days later and I quickly ripped the plastic bubble wrap off to inspect my newest possession toOld Main at Lombard College an ever growing collection of Illinois memorabilia. Twirling the small spoon in my hand, I wondered if the building etched onto the piece still existed on the small campus. The question turned my thoughts back to the three years (grades seventh through ninth) I spent at Lombard Junior High School more than three decades ago.

The year was 1965. I had left my elementary Nellie Swanson Grade School (Now really, have you ever in your life met anyone named Nellie?) behind and entered what I remembered to be the gigantic buildings of Lombard. I recall long dark halls full of dented lockers, several floorsof ancient classrooms, and a loud, wild lunch room where you didn't dare to bring any sacked sandwiches from home because your classmates might wonder if your family didn't have the money for a hot lunch.

I grew up quickly in those three fast years at Lombard. Many firsts in my life occurred there. Those were the years when I went on my first date, played in my first football game, experienced my first broken leg, broke up with my first steady girl and took my first photography lessons which has become my life's profession. I know I owe Lombard a lot.

Now, more then 35 years later, as I held a century-old spoon in my hand, I thought about the history of Lombard, a history which was never discussed in any class while I was a student there.

Yes, I did know way back then that Lombard Junior High was once Lombard College, but I have no idea why I knew that simple fact. Research now tells me that Lombard College was originally christened as the Illinois Liberal Institute. Founded in 1851 by prairie pioneers who were dedicated to the advancement of nonsectarian coeducation, the college awarded women with degrees equal to those of the male students at the first graduation ceremonies held in 1856 Later, it was renamed Lombard College in honor of a principal donor, Benjamin Lombard. In its 80-year history, the college's main chapter in Galesburg's heritage is the fact that its most famous student was hometown boy Carl Sandburg and he never even graduated from the school.

Following a brief military commitment in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War, Sandburg returned to Galesburg and enrolled at Lombard College in 1898. The young student worked as a part-time fireman as he shaped his own future in literature and political classes. While there he joined the college's Poor Writer's Club whose members wrote, read and criticized various poetry of the day. The club's founder, Lombard Professor Phillip Green Wright, recognized the unique talent of Sandburg and not only encouraged the student writer but actually published Sandburg's first collection of verse, ''In Reckless Ecstasy.'' on his crude basement press in 1904. Over the next few years, Wright would print out two more short volumes for Sandburg, ''Incidentals'' (1907) and ''The Plaint of a Rose.'' (1908).

Carl Sandburg was an exceptional student as well as a popular member of the college community at Lombard for four years when, in 1902, he suddenly left the campus without explanation and without his nearly earned bachelor of arts degree. He left Galesburg to travel across the country by hopping freight trains with his fellow hoboes for several years. Scholars believe that it was these years riding the rails which gave Sandburg the emotional experience to formulate his stylized expression of the language and lore of America's working-class citizens, a segment of society which had never been adequately represented in American literature at that time.

The Lombard College years were Sandburg's first steps toward fame and fortune as an internationally renowned poet and author. His prolific writings on Abraham Lincoln remain perhaps one of the most regarded biographical works of all time, an effort for which he was awarded the first of two Pulitzer Prizes during a very long career. Sandburg's future fared much better than his alma mater's. In 1930, as a direct result of the nation's economic problems resulting from The Great Depression, Lombard College was forced to close. All alumni records and the Lombard students were handed over to nearby Knox College. Later, in that same decade, the campus was taken over by the Galesburg school system which has overseen both elementary and junior high classes there since that time.

Sandburg returned to his hometown many times before his death in 1967 and his birthplace has long been a public shrine to his writings and memory. As a young student in Galesburg, I remember the many 'Penny Parades'' fund-raisers which were held to collect monies to support the tiny Sandburg museum. My friends and I would collect bicycle baskets full of glass soda bottles to earn handfuls of pennies for the annual drives. Tons of coins donated by schools from all over Illinois helped to preserve the birthplace until it was deeded to the state in 1970. Today, with Sandburg's funeral ashes buried in the backyard, the site is now managed by the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency.

It was the autumn of 1958 when Carl Sandburg made the last return of his life back to his hometown. He had been invited to speak and sing at the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates on the Knox College campus. Celebrated as Galesburg's favorite son, the poet was honored at various banquets and events for several days. On Monday, October 6, Sandburg was introduced to a standing ovation on the steps of Knox's Old Main near where, a century before, Lincoln and Douglas verbally battled over slavery issues. Choosing his words slowly with his famous drawl, he focused his address on the benefits and terrors of science and technology Sandburg expressed his hope that all students of the day would use the new knowledge for progress rather than the destruction of society. ''Young people's dreams will shape history,'' he said, adding, ''It is easy for me to knock elders, but I cannot do it for youth.'' He then ended his appearance by singing several of his favorite folks songs, some of which had been published in his famous collection, ''The American Songbag.''

Later that same day, Sandburg continued on to Lombard Junior High School to participate in a tree planting ceremony at his old college campus. Realizing that an important chapter in Galesburg's history was being written that day, my mother, Kay Stout, left work early that afternoon and hurried home to gather up my brother Robin, neighborhood friend Janet Greer and myself to join the growing crowd in front of the school.

Compared to my small elementary school, Lombard must have looked enormous. Nearly 42 years later, I still have some memories of that fall day. It was very overcast and some light sprinkles were drifting down over the campus. Holding hands with my brother and friend, we waded under the taller adults chasing Mom as she weaved a path through the crowd.

When Sandburg arrived, I can still see the crowd part as he walked up to the planting site. He had the whitest hair that I had ever seen. White, white hair. With help from city and school officials, Sandburg dug deep with a shovel and then gently placed a small linden tree into the ground. He spoke in soft tones to all of us as friends, rather than as an audience, as he brushed the dirt off from his hands. According to a local newspaper report, Sandburg pointed to the tree and said, ''As long as I live, I am going to come back to this campus and see how this fellow is doing.'' He slowly looked around at the spectators, smiled at us children standing in front of our parents and said, ''For all that's being said about today's teenagers, I would trust most of you here.'' The crowd smiled back. He ended the quiet moment with the words, ''I want you to be my friends.''

Tired, the old man turned to leave. It had been a very long day for him. Sensing her moment, Mom boldly moved up to Sandburg and asked him if he would pose for a photograph with her sons. Decades later I learned (and this was even verified by his own family) that he rarely had his picture taken embracing young strangers. Despite that, for some reason, he agreed and knelt down between Robin and me as I nervously held Janet's hand. He reached around and gave us a soft hug. I recall that not only Mom was taking pictures, but also a dozen or so onlookers were also clicking their cameras at us. As people pushed closer to us, he kept whispering in our ears. He then stood up, said his good-byes and quietly walked away. Some of the crowd followed the man to his waiting car. After a few more personal appearances at civic events that same week, Sandburg left town and returned to his Blue Ridge Mountain estate near Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Neither Galesburg nor Lombard ever saw him alive again.

It would make a good ending to the story if I could tell you exactly what Sandburg was saying to us as those photographs were being taken that day. I wish that there were video cameras back then so I might know what he told the three of us. It might have been valuable to my life today. But I was very little and scared surrounded by strangers and he was famous and... I don't remember. But as I've grown older, it seems obvious to me now that at that moment the frail, people's poet must have been brimming with memories of his youth and the importance of that particular place in his life. His presence there, well off the beaten path, was telling us that these things are important, that all history starts local and personal.

As an adult, I have come to believe that young people should be out making history rather than studying it. However, I also believe that local history should be part of all elementary and high school classwork in every community. All young students should be well instructed on the origins and heritage of their own backyard. Perhaps that was the true message Sandburg was telling me as he held us in his arms on that wet autumn afternoon so long ago.

Legend has it that once a Galesburg Superintendent of Schools visited one of the city's elementary schools where he asked a classroom of children, ''Did Abraham Lincoln ever come to this town?'' He was hoping for an answer involving the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates, one of which was held at Knox College several years before the beginning of the Civil War. After a few silent moments, a small hand shot up. ''Yes,'' the confident student answered. ''He came to see Carl Sandburg.''

The prairie town poet would have loved that story.


My Grandparents

by Inez Gossett

I lived most of my first twelve years with my grandparents. They had a large impact on my life.

Grandpa was a coal miner, also a farm hand. Once we lived on property owned by a man names Wayne McKebben. Our house sat up by the road on a small hill. Down the hill was a coal mine, almost in our backyard. Grandpa worked in the mine.

Every morning he went to the mine with a carbide light on his cap. I would stand in the yard and watch the mule go round and round, raising and lowering the lift (elevator) to bring cars of coal up and send the empty cars back down to be filled.

Being a curious child of six, I decided that I should go down in the mine with Grandpa. Grandma, naturally, said, ''No! That is no place for little girls.'' I was Grandpa's ''little devil'' and he thought it was really something that I would want to go down in the mine with him. Needless to say, one morning I was dressed in old clothes, complete with a miner's cap and a carbide light, a sandwich in a paper bag, and a quart of water. Down in the mine I went. What an experience for a little girl. I loved it, but one time was enough.

Grandma was always the busiest woman I ever knew. She made clothes, pieced quilts, canned fruit and vegetables, made jelly, baked bread, cakes, pies, and cookies. She planted gardens, weeded and hoed. Always busy from morning to night, but the greatest thing was the fact that she always had time for a little girl -- a kiss, a hug, and a lap to sit on. I learned many, many things from her. I think the greatest was how to be a mother, later a grandmother and a great grandmother.

Despite the fact that they were poor, my grandparents never turned anyone in need away. The neighbors knew they could always depend on Grandma for help in times of sickness or death.

I have often laughed about the way my grandparents met and married. Grandma was an ''old maid'' of twenty-seven. Grandpa was a widower of thirty-two. He was working as a farm hand and she hired out as a housekeeper and midwife for the same people.

At the end of three weeks, they made up their intends to marry. My question was, did they fall in love? Their answer was ''no.'' They liked each other and wanted their own home and a family. They married in August of 1897, had two children, a boy and a girl. The marriage lasted fifty-three years. On their fiftieth anniversary I once more asked Grandma if she ever loved Grandpa. Her answer was, ''Certainly. Why do you suppose we were able to stay together all those years?''

Grandpa was never a man to argue with her and their arguments were something to behold. She would get her back up about something and start to let off steam. She would start off with, ''Jim Atwood'' and go on from there. He would listen for a bit and then let out with a loud, ''Humph!'' If Grandma kept on, there would be another, ''Humph!'' in a few minutes. If she still kept on, he would pick up his hat, slap it on his head, and say, ''Well,'' and go out the door. Sometimes he would go to the woodpile and chop wood. Sometimes he would whistle. Sometime later he would go back into the house. If Grandma had settled down, all well and good, he would stay. If she still wanted to spout off, he would go back out to the woodpile or weed the garden. Never can I remember the two of them arguing. I learned a valuable lesson from them, it takes two to make an argument.

Many times, I would take a stone jug of water and some bread and butter to the field where Grandpa was plowing, seeding or harrowing. Sometimes he would put me on the horse's back or on the seat of the plow for a couple of trips through the field before he sent me back home.

We had a creek close to the house and I learned to fish. I learned about wild onions, wild parsnips, a root similar to a potato. I learned what fruits and berries could be eaten and -- many other things such as how to build a fire pit and clean fish, cover them with clay, and put them in the fire pit to cook. He taught me to shoot a gun, how to stand motionless and watch the birds and animals.

In the winter, he would put me on the big sled so I could go to get wood for the fires.

So many things I learned from the two great people I called My Grandparents. God Bless Them!


A second hand tale from my father

by B. Annette Mates

Our father told us little of his young schooling but often talked about college. He studied botany and became a florist. His father owned the Boyer Broom factory on Peck Street. Their home was on South Prairie Street just east of Knox College. His mother ran a rooming house for boys going to Knox. The house faced east with a porch the length of the front and another porch as large on the second floor. The boys could use it as a lounge. It was closed in winter but not heated.

If the rooms were full, my father would use the porch as long as the weather permitted. She thought she could keep him comfortable a while longer so she moved another bed into his room. It was crowded with two beds and two young men. Even though the house was full, another came. The newcomer was introduced as Carl Sandburg. My father spoke rudely. Of course he was not anxiously hoping to share the room.

He said for all to hear, ''There is already too many Swedes in Galesburg.'' Words flew back and forth and his mother banished him to the porch. As he left, he made another cruel remark, ''It will be a relief. He not only has a bad mouth but a bad smell.''

He evidently had a horse down the street at the Horse and Mule Barn and for many years the Galesburg people stabled there. They had auctions there and brought in animals from other states. Good business, bad smell.

As the weather became very bitter, my father went to live with his Aunt Roxie Mitchell on Whiting Avenue.

Ever after

By Louise Muehe

We moved to Galesburg in 1966, so I don't have much knowledge about Carl Sandburg before 1967, just second-hand incidents, repeated by people I met and information freely distributed but the tourist industry.

We lived in a big grey house on the corner of Seminary and Fifth Streets and I went to work in the biggest factory. Galesburg didn't seem like a place that would produce poets, although they do have a prestigious college

About the time I moved to Galesburg, another Junior College began to grow. This college was named after a famous resident of Galesburg, Carl Sandburg. A few of my new friends scoffed and said, ''He never went to college. Never cared much for Galesburg -- hopped a freight train out of here, as soon as he could. Boy, I remember when the skating rink was out by Lake Storey, and he came out there.'' I didn't pay much attention, not realizing how basic Sandburg's poetry was.

I'm not sure just when plans to restore the small house where Sandburg lived on Third Street began. But I do remember it was interesting and accessible as it still is, although they have expanded it into a multi building convention center now.

Sometimes, when the children or grandchildren were restless, I'd suggest we walk the few blocks to Sandburg's home and they would tell me they knew all about it from school, and didn't I remember that their class had toured it in January and took pennies for the ''Penny Parade?'' I'd say, ''Let's go again'' and we'd usually load a little one into a stroller and parade the few blocks to culture.

On the way, they'd tell me what they had learned about Sandburg in school, the oldest might even be able to recite a bit of his poetry for us. I remember the oldest girl, Brenda, saying, ''He wrote one about fog coming in on little cat's feet. What could that mean, fog is wet and icky, and kittens are soft and warm.''

''Well,'' I fumbled, ''Fog is soft too and quiet; if it's a warm day, it's nice to walk in fog. I don't know, only the poet really knows what he's trying to tell us. It's like looking at a flower, each person sees something different. Some poets know how to tell us what they see.

I doubt they even heard me. The children always ran on ahead as we got around the corner of Third Street. They didn't go to the door of the house. They went around back, fascinated by the two-hole convenience located there, and ''Remembrance Rock'' planted nearby, and the other things to be found in a small yard.

A few times I got them to go inside and look at the clunky typewriter where Sandburg may have typed some of his epics, at the solemn-looking picture -- which those who had known him said missed his twinkly nature -- and other relics gathered in his memory by his dedicated friends and family.

Usually, we walked on over to the old Fourth Street Bridge, which is now a new concrete edifice; like so many things, it is safer and more useful, but not nearly as interesting as the one it replaced. The view then, and still is, awe-inspiring with the noisy rail yards spread below it.

I told the children that Sandburg probably spent time in the very spot we were standing, watching the trains and composing his thoughts, and that he often jumped on a slow moving train and left town without a ticket. Being a responsible adult, I also told them that it was a dangerous life style and they must never come there alone.

While I admired what Sandburg had accomplished in his wanderings, I always tried to impress on the children that he was a scholar and that he had done much research on another Illinois figure, Abe Lincoln, and written many books that helped to explain that famous person too.

Then we returned home, tired and happy to have traveled a small distance in the footsteps of a common man who left a large legacy.

Memories of Carl Sandburg

by Richard J. Dickerson

When Carl Sandburg, the poet, was active in Galesburg Illinois, he was invited to attend a program at Knox College. A sculptor was to be present and make a form in clay of his face so a metal form could be molded.

I was Chief of Galesburg Emergency Police and I would help the college security at ball games.

The Galesburg Police Chief asked if I would like to be a bodyguard for Carl Sandburg. I said, ''Yes.''

The program took place on a large platform east of Old Main. I was to stand behind a window to watch and protect Mr. Sandburg. When the program was over, I was to open a window and step through the same as Abraham Lincoln did when he gave his address during the debates. I took Mr. Sandburg by his arm and went back through Old Main and out the front door. I placed him in the front seat of my car. The wife of the Galesburg High School principal and the wife of the assistant principal were also in my car.

I drove to Lombard College and he planted a tree. We then returned to the Custer Hotel and I sat at the table with Carl Sandburg.

In 1967, Carl Sandburg died. I was in the grocery business on West Main Street. I had a soda fountain. A school teacher whose name was St. George, would eat ice cream at my store and said she was doing research where Carl Sandburg lived when he lived in Galesburg. She said that he lived at 331 East Third Street. I knew the address. I used to deliver groceries to that house.

A man by the name of Banana Joe, who sold bananas out of his cart, pushed it around town.

After it was decided to make a national shrine of Sandburg's home, Galesburg's mayor, Mr. Cabeen, had a big program at the Sandburg home. I was invited. As the program was taking place, I stooped and picked up a four leaf clover and gave it to Mr. Cabeen. The committee said it was good luck to help purchase an original lot behind the Sandburg home so they could have more room for large crowds.

Mr. Sandburg had a brother who was manager of Rath Packing Company who sold meat products. It was located on South Chambers Street behind where the new post office is located. Mrs. Sandburg's brother had two sons. One of them was on the Iroquis basketball team with me when we won a city YMCA championship.

I am 87 years old and someday I may meet Mr. Sandburg upstairs and he may write a poem about how he and I took a ride and sat side by side. You can see how he planted a tree at Good Old Lombard.

The circus comes to town

by Inez Gossett

One of my best memories from my young years, in the late 1920s, is when the circus would come to town. Posters were put up all over town advertising Barnum and Bailey Circus.

At about 3am the circus would arrive on the CB&Q loaded on flatcars. There would be a number of cars waiting to see the excitement. The circus unloaded on the Five Points. That was where South, Kellogg, Knox, Brooks, Prairie, and Cherry Streets came together.

The circus would unload, go down Kellogg Street to Main, east on Main Street to the Seacord pasture. They always had plenty of help preparing for the show. A number of young boys always followed the circus to help ''set up,'' so they could earn a free pass to the show. It was hard work feeding and watering the animals, helping to drive tent stakes, putting up tents, and the many seats. I know there was at least one boy who was so tired, he went home to rest and was too tired to go to the show. Sorry, Bob McFarland!

By ten o'clock in the morning the Big Top was up, the flags were blowing in the breeze, and the animal cages were filled. Everyone was dressed in costumes and spangles and the parade was ready to go. The horses were prancing, bells on the harnesses were jingling, and plumes on their heads waving in the breeze. The musicians, sitting atop a wagon, were ready to play.

The steam calliope was my favorite thing. It looked like a small pipe organ with a number of brass pipes. It had a water boiler that heated the water to make the steam. It had smoke that came out of a pipe. Oh! The music it made!

A yell would be heard, ''It's coming!'' Heads would turn to get the first glimpse. People would cheer. The band would play. Clowns would do hand springs and girls would wave. Oh, a parade was wonderful!

The parade would come all the way down Main Street, around the Square, and back down Main, back to Seacord's pasture.

People followed the parade. The wonderful smell of popcorn, hot dogs, the smell of sawdust, permeated the air as they came to the circus grounds. Before the show went on, there always was a couple of sideshows, maybe a fortune teller, and always a menagerie to see.

Finally it was time for the show to begin. The music played while everyone found a seat. The ringmaster came to the center ring and called attention to the high wire, elephants doing tricks, trained dogs, trick bicycle riders and so many wonderful sights and sounds. Then there were the lions and their trainers. So many sights and sound, so much to see, no child would ever forget.

Back in the days that I am writing about, a circus was a small traveling town. They had their own cooks, a doctor, a vet, and a seamstress or two. They even had their special language. Circus people were very clannish and didn't mix with the town people. Winter was spent in Florida. Spring and Summer were spent on the road.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online April 26, 2000

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