Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/267

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229
SHOWS AND SHOWMEN

Senator of my State and three times Mayor of Bridgeport; but from what I have learned of politicians and their methods in the West I have come to the conclusion that I am now in a far more respectable business—that of showman—in which no man is either corrupted or injured."

GULLIBLE PATRONS IN EARLY DAYS

The people who were patrons of the circus in early days were very "gullible." Every showman of ripe years has in his memory incidents from his own experience which fully corroborate this statement. The old-time show was an "event" of large importance in the life of the small village, no matter whether that village were hid among the hills or were a landmark upon the open plains—in either instance it was as effectually separated from the rest of mankind as if it had been an isle at sea. The circus, to the villagers and the farmers, was an unending cause of wonder and curiosity.

Strange reports floated ahead and behind the circus—and, for the most part, were believed. The exact size of the coming wonder was a subject for animated discussion. Of course the people did not believe all that the billboards said; but they believed enough to credit the