Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday Morning with William C. Coup: Off the Train on a Sunday for a Feast of Food and Music

Some runs, however, were especially pleasant. For example, I recall one Sunday run, in the 1870s, of three hundred miles across an Indian reservation between a town in Kansas and another in Southern Texas. The day was beautiful ... Towards noon we halted and erected cooking tents and stables. The horses and animals were looked after and a dinner was cooked by the attaches. After dinner they formed congenial knots and strolled around while the "hash slingers" washed the dishers and the men once more loaded up. We carried at that time an excellent troupe of jubilee singers, and they burst into song, alternating their quaint camp-meeting songs with others in which the majority of the attaches could join. The band, too, caught the infection and produced their instruments and we enjoyed a vocal and instrumental feast. Just at dusk, before starting for the night's run, the Jubes sang "Nearer, My God, to Thee" to the full accompaniment of the band and with a refrain swelled by everyone able to sing. The rolling prairie, the beautiful trees, the perfect weather, the joyous spirits of every one present, the melodious voices of the Jubilee singers, and the grand strains produced by thirty skilled musicians, combined to produce music such as man seldom hears.

-- from his book, Sawdust and Spangles, 1901. Coup was one of America's greatest big top tycoons, the man who, likely more than any other, put the circus on rails and gave it three rings.

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