On the Ringling Midway, 1898

On the Ringling Midway, 1898
and on their way to guilt-free amusement. They did not enter the big top with "issues."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Morning with Don Marcks: The Wide Disenchanting Line Between Fan and Trouper


Not so enchanted?  Showbiz David with Wallace Bros. Circus, trying to be "with it and for it"

Some travel along for a week or so, in their own mobile homes, parking across the street, or checking into motels, during the day helping out on the midway, inside the tent, for the satisfaction of "traveling with the circus." 

But not until they cross the line between their own world and that other one back of the big top -- living within the community under canvas, maybe sleeping in a long semi on a narrow bunk, eating in the Ptomaine Joint (aka: the cookhouse) will they ever begin to comprehend how different the world of the circus really is. It may be less socially messy today than it was when I, for only six weeks (hardly a boast), went out with Wallace Bros., thanks to Bob Mitchell who got me the job.  First week or so, I felt like I were floating through the most wonderful fantasy.  After that, gradually, the reality of living in such close quarters around the clock with all kinds of people of the sort who endured the daily hardships began to stalk my idyllic vision -- not unlike a veiled hustler turning "love" on its head.  It takes guts to work for what I'd call a real circus.

Don Marcks, to my knowledge, never really crossed that line, although he harbored dreams of crossing it. He once I think spent some time working for John Strong, but at an across-the-street distance.  Maybe it's a good thing he remained a fan.  I myself lived to value remaining a patron out in the seats.  Yes, a few years later I did do press work for Sid Kellner, but far ahead of the show itself.  I was on my own. And Don offered great encouragement and support when I was making up my mind whether to accept the position.

Not long after I moved to Los Angeles in 1983, Don wrote me this, on June 10:

"This sure is a busy time - saw Carson & Barnes for three days and enjoyed it all.  No wonder folks want to be around the show.  It is like they used to be in the old days, everyone is friendly and it just feels good.{I have to wonder how he would know that.] I was ready to throw everything away and sign up for the tour. Someone told me Dorey would like to have me with it, but even if that were true I can't go now, not until all this hospital stuff is over. What would I do with Circus Report, so guess I'll stay home, weep a bit but keep the paper going?"

Yes, Don, I think you made the right decision. 

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