Here, from his letter to me dated September 19, 1965. We’re under canvas.
“I spent this weekend with Carson and Barnes Circus and enjoyed it. Was in Santa Cruz and Soledad, where it was rather warm in the daytime but cool at night. Show did pretty fair business, but they still seemed to be unhappy, thinking that they should pull more, but gollys they can’t have an overflow crowd all the time.”
Looking way back, not sure if I ever saw an overflow crowd at C&B, but I do know I saw lots of people under the tent, not just a few hundred across a sea of empty chairs and planks, as I do in modern times.
Nice little full house (500) at the Zoppe Family Circus.
“Seems to me that they have to set up the show to break even on a half house or so and go from there.”
A half house. If only, when I go to Vargas or Carson & Barnes today, even to Ringling at the Oakland Coliseum arena, I could see a half house, how exciting that would be. I know it happens, I guess just not when I am around. Maybe I bring bad vibes to the midway. The only shows where I have always seen a three-quarter to near full tent are Big Apple and, of course, Cirque du Soleil.
3,900. Does the number ring a bell? Think hard. A recent seat count for a very tragic event. Three thousand nine hundred. Need a clue? The number present at a performance which went very wrong.
Still not there? Think a major circus up in a New England town, earlier this year.
Yes, Ringling, at Providence, when the aerialists fell to the floor after their rigging malfunctioned.
3,900, it was said too many times by too many different sources (maybe not by Circus Report or White Tops) not to believe. And believe it I do, for it resonates with my own recent experience of seeing Ringling-Barnum out here in the 15,00 seat plus Oakland Coliseum arena. I'd guess from three to five thousand spectators max.
And what is the point of all this? Well, what is the point. The letter reminded me of how the times have changed, I think.
“But gollys they can’t have an overflow crowd all the time."
Right, Don. If only, they could overflow the tent just some of the time.
That’s what seems to be happening across the pond for Peter Jolly’s Circus. Today. Not yesterday. He’s been packing them in at some stands, possibly, opines Brit blogger Douglas McPherson, because of anti-circus animal legislation in the winds, this inspiring the public to take in a real circus while there still is a real circus to take in. By golly, were he still around, would Don and I have fun talking about that!
Johnny Pugh's Cole Bros. Circus packing them in at a recent date (as reported in Circus Report) was,by golly, Don, something to crow about.
Promise not to question that, the feeling is too good.