A mine­field of gar­gan­tuan turds

The death of the cir­cus a sad pas­sage

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - David Muise David Muise prac­tises law with Shel­don Nathanson Law in Syd­ney and is the au­thor of the Jim and Far­quhar sto­ries. Ques­tions or story ideas can be ad­dressed to davidqc@shel­don­nathanson.ca.

I love the cir­cus. Not the bro­ken-down rides and rigged games va­ri­ety like the Bill Lynch Show, but the flashy, lions, tigers, tightrope walk­ers and clowns of the three rings un­der the big top va­ri­ety.

The first real cir­cus I ever saw was the Clyde Baetty Cir­cus, which came to town in the 1950s and set up at the old Prince Street Play­ground, about where Sobeys and Shop­pers are to­day. I re­mem­ber driv­ing the Old Man nuts to take us to the cir­cus to see real lions and ele­phants, some­thing we had only seen in books in these pre-tele­vi­sion days. I’m sure he didn’t have the money to buy tick­ets but he some­how put to­gether a pack­age of free tick­ets and coupons to get us there.

On the day of the show we were scrubbed and pol­ished, dressed in our church clothes, and marched from Ashby to the play­ground. The ex­cite­ment grew as we cut through the Brook­field Dairy lot and saw the gleam­ing white tent with hun­dreds of colour­ful flags wav­ing in the breeze. The whole scene was mag­i­cal and so was the show with the ring mas­ter in his red coat, the pa­rade of an­i­mals and the clowns in their lit­tle ex­plod­ing car. Then came the high­light, Clyde Beatty him­self, climbed into a cage with the most wild look­ing lion we had ever seen, and, con­sid­er­ing this was the first lion we had ever seen, I am not fib­bing. We screamed ev­ery time the lion roared or swung his paw, but old Clyde was quick with the whip or the chair to ward off any dan­ger.

The cir­cus was all we could talk about the next week at school so the nuns fi­nally im- posed a ban on cir­cus talk un­til re­cess.

With this much ex­cite­ment, you can imag­ine my dis­ap­point­ment when I read last week that the Rin­gling Brothers-Bar­num and Bai­ley Cir­cus was clos­ing af­ter 146 years. An­other vic­tim of chang­ing tastes in en­ter­tain­ment and the ris­ing costs of putting on such a large show.

Years later, Mike and I man­aged to get work at one of the cir­cuses in re­turn for free tick­ets. Our job was ba­si­cally to make sure there was lots of wa­ter for the an­i­mals. The job wasn’t too bad un­til it came to the ele­phants. Ele­phants re­quire 50 to 80 gal­lons of wa­ter a day, only some of which they ac­tu­ally drink. By show time we were soaked and bone tired when we were told we had one fi­nal job to do, clean up the ele­phant poop. I am no scat­o­log­i­cal ex­pert but it is easy to cal­cu­late the larger the an­i­mal, the larger the poop. We were given shov­els and garbage pails and were put to work. Ev­ery­thing was go­ing fine un­til we heard a strange rum­bling com­ing from one of the an­i­mals. Sud­denly one of the carnies yelled “There she blows.”

What fol­lowed re­sem­bled a truck­load of cab­bages dump­ing its load. Mike and I found our­selves in the mid­dle of a mine­field of gar­gan­tuan turds while the per­pe­tra­tor trot­ted away seem­ingly un­con­cerned.

We cleaned up the mess and spread saw­dust as in­structed, then headed for the wa­ter trough to get cleaned up. When we ap­proached the head carnie for our free tick­ets he told us we couldn’t go in stink­ing as we were but he was kind enough to let us watch from the rear door.

I’m re­ally go­ing to miss the cir­cus.

I’m just sayin’...

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