was, a reason why our tent circuses, for years and years, started their seasons in the spring rather than mid-winter. The reason was weather. Simple as that, at least as we see it here in our Circus 101 Classroom.
Examples, from old route books: Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. in 1995 opened in mid March; Kelly-Miller in 1956 opened in mid-April.
A season from spring to late fall can bring rain and wind and blow downs enough. Pushing opening day up can only add terrific stress to a time that, ideally, should be spent in preparation and rehearsals -- rather than having to give any new staffers of the first-of-may brand a crash course in cherry pie.
Over at Kelly Miller, John Ringling North II and James Royal evidently are going to risk another early opening, down there in Brownsville, Texas. In only ten days from now. A snow storm last year in Texas (possibly Brownsville) placed enormous hurdles on the troupe. In the opinion of many with the circus, it caused a devastating drop off in ticket sales. Ryan's photo, above, landed high honors at the Monte Carlo photography contest, making it onto a calendar they put out.
But this precarious quest for early revenue could throw new costumes and truck designs into the mud fast. Could rattle nerves into premature-season traumatic stress syndrome. When did a show throw its destiny so precariously into the grave possibility of giant mud puddles and torrential rains? I can remember one -- Circus Vargas, when Cliff Vargas pitched his huge tent (at one time, a six-poler) on the most unlikely Northern California lots in February! To Mr. Vargas, the word "madness" applied; Is Mr. North channeling Mr. V?
OK, I'm hooked already. I will be returning to Steve and Ryan's blog, and I know most of you will, too. For Steve, say what you will, gives a blow by blow account of weather, lot conditions, overall size of audiences, not to mention how their gags clicked with audiences or malfunctioned. Please, Steve, spare me your trips to ER (just assume my prayers will be with you). Yes, I'm a non-trouping wimp.
Is there another circus blog out there that takes us that up-close to the action?
Yes, Annie, a lot can happen in a week of lyrical turnarounds by Mother Nature. Song cue: The sun'll come out Tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar!
I am convinced this troupe harbors a perverse addiction for tough trouping the old fashioned way. Heck, I have an idea, North II & Royal I : Why not trade in your trucks for wagons, hook 'em up to tractors or donkeys, rig some bed frames on the tops, and have yourself a lovely little Toby Tyler tour?
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, is only a bright sunny lot somewhere, somehow, maybe over or under the rainbow, or around the back of Wall Mart or down there next to, see, those lovely trees by that, grave yard? ------ away!