Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/27

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7
OLD-TIME WAGON SHOW

hardships and trials and the rough attachés of that "vast aggregation" can never be forgotten. If the showmen were rough, so also were our patrons. The sturdy sons of toil came to the show eager to resent any imagined insult; and failing to fight with the showmen, would often fight among themselves; for in the days of Abraham Lincoln's childhood the people divided themselves into cliques, and county-seats were often the arenas selected to settle family feuds. In other words, "fighting was in the air," and, as may be imagined, the showmen received their full share of it. It was no infrequent occurrence to be set upon by a party of roughs, who were determined to show their prowess and skill as marksmen with fists and clubs if required. As a consequence showmen went armed, prepared to hold their own against any odds. Not once a month, or even once a week, but almost daily, would these fights occur, and so desperately were they entered into that they resembled pitched battles more than anything else. Many years later, when describing this part of my career and later battles and circus fights to General Grant and Governor Crittenden at St. Louis, in which city my show was exhibiting, they admitted that my experience in thrilling and