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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Popular Circus Visits Union Springs

     Everyone loves a circus and it was no different on the day this circus came to town. It was around the mid-1950's when a the King Brothers Circus came to Union Springs, Alabama.

     In 1945 Floyd King bought the Bud Anderson Circus and much of the Clyde Beatty's Truck Show. In 1946 Floyd took the circus out as King Brothers Circus. In 1954 Floyd partnered with Arnold Maley and together formed a larger 70 truck circus. That is huge!

Below: Floyd King

Below: See where Mr. Floyd King checked into the Josephine Hotel, known as The Commercial Hotel at the time. (At the bottom)

Below: Floyd King and partner, Arnold Maley.

Below: Posters like this would have put up all over Union Springs, letting everyone know when all the excitement of the circus was coming to town.

   As with most circuses, there are three rings in the center and a Ring Master to point your attention to each act as it is taking place.

     There are usually horses, acrobats, trapeze artists and large elephants that come bounding into the center rings. They,(The elephants), stand on their hind legs, twirl and do other tricks to a delighted audience.

     Today we see so few circuses appearing anymore. I personally haven't seen a real circus in years or since I was a little girl. The last I can remember was in my Dad's small home town. He took me and my brother. It was so much fun. My brother was so little at the time that most of his attention was focused on his cotton candy. But I was mesmerized by the men and women who swung back and forth on the trapeze. It was so exhilarating and beautiful. I also loved the elephants and the clowns that came running around playing little tricks on some people in the audience.

Below:  A view of a main large tent.

Below: Another view of the main circus tent.

Below: A sample of a program/magazine they would sell at the circus.

Below: A specially trained acrobat who rides a horse and does all kinds of tricks. Different riders do difficult flips while standing on the horse as it runs. Other tricks may include other riders jumping and flipping from horse to horse while the horses are in motion. It really is thrilling to see the skilled performers in these acts. 

     In addition the main circus tent, there are side shows and specialty acts to entertain you. These may be inside additional tents or as part of a series of trucks lined up close together where they are converted into stages to perform their acts. 

Below: Highly skilled jugglers.

Below: Examples of how a circus truck can convert to a specialty act or for a side show.

     Sideshow Acts are usually people who look different or those who can perform very specific acts that may be dangerous. Sword swallowers or fire swallowers are kind of exciting to some. Not me. I find them hard to watch. Then there are others acts like the Worlds Tallest Man, The Fat Lady, The Half Woman, The Tattooed Lady, Bobo The Rubber Man, The Three Legged Man, and The Worlds Smallest Woman. There is always some version of these acts at most circuses. Even the Worlds Strongest Man. But my favorite might be the Magicians. They are always good for a thrill or two. Especially to kids, who just can't figure out how they did that trick. 

     Don't forget the exotic animals. See that camel in the photo below. Can you imagine when you were a kid from a small town when you would ever in your life get to see a real live camel? That's why a circus is so cool. King Brother's Circus and others like them enjoyed a lot of success over the years bringing everything they had to entertain you and expose you to something you may never, ever have the opportunity to see again. I wish they were still around. This was really great entertainment, especially to a small town like Union Springs.

Now don't forget the food... roasted peanuts, cotton candy, candied apples, cracker jacks, and the smell of that popcorn! Oh my! I can almost smell it now.

     I brought you down memory lane for a reason. Not because I  think you're some kind of nitwit or cave dweller that hasn't ever heard of a circus. It is so you can close your eyes and remember a simpler time. Happy times. In a small town like Union Springs or wherever you live, this was a time to get out of the house and go with your friends, family, neighbors and spend time together participating in a family friendly and FUN event that was so exciting, so thrilling that you would talk about it for days, and days. The circus was a place filled with excitement, laughter, and people who devoted their lives to making you smile. How cool is that?  I wish it were still that easy to bring people together.

Union Springs may have had more than one circus come to town over the years. I'm sure it did. But for this particular post I have proof that they did. They stayed at our beloved jewel of Prairie Street, The Josephine Hotel. For at least we know that during this one snippet of time in history, the people of Union Springs went to a tent with its neighbors, and together they laughed and smiled. They enjoyed the circus... together.

Be sure to check back right here to see more posts from Oh, That Josephine.

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