Ringling was in town, and Don was happily engaged, or so for a while, going out to visit the show, until he practicably got run off the lot.
From his letter to me dated August 24, 1984
“I went down to the Ringling show on opening night which was Tuesday. They had a good crowd as usual. I spent most of the time in the backyard to be available to anyone who was interested in CR [Circus Report]. I did pass out a fair number of samples, etc. Also peaked at a part of the show.”
He wasn’t to impressed, but he rarely was. I would know this, although he would never publish such feedings in his paper, but he often felt a let down, perhaps comparing the present to a past he much preferred. I got a kick out of Don, sometimes seeing him approach me in the higher side seats at the Oakland Auditorium (that I had bought, if not getting through the back door myself), to take a seat himself for a while and carp about the performance.
“The big spec just didn’t seem to make any sense to me. It was dancing girls and guys more than anything else.”
Nonetheless, he returned the following night, only to be met by a rebuff in the backyard by one of the most preeminent wild animal trainers of the era.
“Talked to the backdoor guy for a time then walked down the ramp to the backyard, hoping I’d have some success with getting money, new subscriptions,.”
Bad Boy Don is bounced!
“Guess what. Charley Bauman told me to get out I didn’t belong there. So I went back up the ramp.”
Circus Report's rebuffed publisher chatted for a little with the backdoor guy, got tired, got chilly, and went home. I doubt he ever saw the show itself.
“I’ve often heard from others that Bauman is a very difficult man to get along with and he has been rough on others who come to visit. Even to the point of going up in the seats and telling them they have to leave and can’t have a free seat at the circus."
Well, here I’m on the show's side. It may be bad form to remove unwanted “lot lice” from the seats, unless, of course, they are asked to show their ticket stubs. We don't know all the details. But it is very bad form to steal into the arena or tent, especially when the gate crashers are not starving kids off the farm, but adults, likely well employed and the very fans who belive in suppoting circuses.
Yes, I once then, too, loved the challenge of walking right through for free. Ir was almost a badge of honor among fans. And what a perverse thrill. Once in, you were in!
“However, this is the first time he has ever done anything like that to me.”
I think the Felds were getting tired of indulging fans one of their most selfish fantasies, built on a wish to feel "with it and for it," for if that was, indeed, their status, why should they have to pay?
Don loved to stand at the performers door, for that made him one of them. I knew the feeling, but I wanted to be seated with a good view of the show. I guess I was funny that way.
“I’ve been thinking I might go down to the train this weekend and take a photo of each car for the files
“Not much doing otherwise. I have been thinking that it would be nice to have like an Open House each Friday evening for fans and model builders. They could come and just talk,work on models, exchange ideas, even see a movie. No politics, no minutes or anything like that.”
One of many of Don’s inklings that never flew
“That Little Theatre group in Point Richmond opens their show George M this evening.”
I doubt, if he went to see George M, that he got in free.
Thirty years ago today. And may all your days be free circus days!