With the news of the impending closing and demise of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus this spring ("The big top comes down: Ringling Bros. circus is closing," Jan. 16), the memories of my early encounters with the circus come to the fore.
I grew up in Pimlico. In the '30s, the circuses were staged on a field near the race track. As kids we would gather at the corner of West Garrison Avenue and Pimlico Road to watch the unloading of the trucks and wagons, and cages of the monkeys, lions, and tigers; the pitching of the tents; and the little "mobile homes" for the crew and entertainers. We could watch the clowns put on their makeup in the open area behind the Big Top. The music at showtime would waft over the neighborhood if the wind was blowing toward us. It being the Depression years, few if any of us could attend the performances. Some boasted that they had crawled under the tent.
The real highlights for us were in the mornings when the elephants would be marched, trunk holding tail, up the 2800 block of West Garrison Avenue with the row houses vibrating and reverberating as if a train was coming by. They then would go down the hill to the intersection of Laurel Avenue. That is where rain water would collect. The water hydrant would be opened and the pachyderms would frolic like one sees in the films of the water holes of the Serengeti. It was so great having our own daily "show."
In the late 1930s, the circus wrapped up and departed Pimlico for the last time. The next year the move to Highlandtown was made. Then onto the 5th Regiment Armory and the Civic Center.
We, of course, made certain our children and grandchildren attended the circus. We cherish the experiences then and even now. We have retained several souvenir books from their visits in the 1960s and 1970s for even more remembrances.
Ah, cherished memories!