Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/223

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189
TRAINING

CIRCUS PEOPLE A LONG-LIVED CLASS

In the old days it was the general custom for the circus proprietors to put their own children into the business, teaching them to do everything in the acrobatic line, from bare-back riding to trapeze and bar work and slack-rope and tight-rope walking. Many of them were also skilled musicians and could play several instruments in the band.

At the present day many persons not familiar with the inside life of the circus will no doubt be horrified to think that a man wealthy enough to own a big circus and menagerie would train his sons, and particularly his daughters, for the ring. Let me say on this score that I could name a long list of families in which this custom prevailed, and must say that the private and domestic life of these people was far above that of the average families in fashionable society. Almost invariably the members of each family were devoted to each other and were refined and intelligent. Many of the young women of these families married wealthy and cultured men, and retired from the circus business to become the mistresses of refined and happy homes. Many old showmen whose children were star performers