This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

The Bandwagon

06 July 2012


Follow the Bandwagon! A phrase that once conjured up excitement, wonder, and anticipation when the circus came to town. And what magnificent wagons they were! These marvels of circus art were covered with ornate carvings, painted and gilded in ways to attract the public's attention. Called a Tableau, each wagon was different and the bandwagon was often the best and the first in any circus parade.

This bandwagon is from the Sells-Floto Circus.  It has a handwritten caption in ink - Leaving lot for parade Long beach Cal. It shows a band of about 12 musicians, mostly brass and drums, perched high atop a wagon decorated with an elephant and its mahout.



This second bandwagon is drawn by a splendid team of 8 matching dappled grey horses, complete with plumes and fancy tack. The band is a bit obscured but you can see the bass drum and a tuba behind another floridly carved wagon tableau. This photo is marked Cole Bros. Circus 1936. Since every circus traveled by rail, the horses had practical use pulling the show people and equipment from the train depot to the tent grounds.




This photo shows two wagons, an elaborate bandwagon at the back, emblazoned with a running lion and pulled by white horses; and in the front a much much smaller wagon pulled by 8 miniature ponies, with plumes too. It is marked Parade Wagons "Great Wallace Circus" 1904.  Perhaps that wagon had a midget clown band.

The Great Wallace circus ran from 1884 until 1907 when it bought a rival company run by Carl Hagenbeck and became  the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Here is the route that this circus played in 1904, as provided by that wonderful internet compendium of all things circus - The Circus Historical Society .  Imagine how this would look on Google Maps if Streetview only had a time machine feature.

            Great Wallace Shows, 1904


April
30 - Peru, Indiana
May

1 - Sunday
2 - Muncie, Indiana
3 - Richmond, Indiana
4 - Marion, Indiana
5 - Anderson, Indiana
6 - Logansport, Indiana
7 - Danville, Illinois
8 - Sunday
9 - Springfield, Illinois
10 - Hannibal, Missouri
11 - Moberly, Missouri
12 - Richmond, Missouri
13 - St. Joseph, Missouri
14 - Leavenworth, Kansas
15 - Sunday
16 - Topeka, Kansas
17 - Emporia, Kansas
18 - Wichita, Kansas
19 - Winfield, Kansas
20 - Independence, Kansas
21 - Chanute, Kansas
22 - Sunday
23 - Pittsburg, Kansas
24 - Aurora, Missouri
25 - Springfield, Missouri
26 - Joplin, Missouri
27 - Webb City, Missouri
28 - Carthage, Missouri
29 - Sunday
30 - Atchinson, Kansas
June

1 - Lincoln, Nebraska
2 - Omaha, Nebraska
3 - Council Bluffs, Iowa
4 - Jefferson, Iowa
5 - Sunday
6 - Des Moines, Iowa
7 - Oskaloosa, Iowa
8 - Marshalltown, Iowa
9 - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
10 - Waterloo, Iowa
11 - Dubuque, Iowa
12 - Sunday
13 - LaCrosse, Wisconsin
14 - Winona, Minnesota
15 - Rochester, Minnesota
16 - Red Wing, Minnesota
17 - Menomonie, Wisconsin
18 - Marshfield, Wisconsin
19 - Sunday
20 - Racine, Wisconsin
21 - Waukegan, Illinois
22 - Elgin, Illinois
23 - Spring Valley, Illinois
24 - Geneseo, Illinois
25 - Morris, Illinois
26 - Sunday
27 - Valparaiso, Indiana
28 - Cassopolis, Michigan
29 - Charlotte, Michigan
30 - Hudson, Michigan
July

1 - Paulding, Ohio
2 - Van Wert, Ohio
3 - Sunday
4 - Bowling Green, Ohio
5 - Toledo, Ohio
6 - Defiance, Ohio
7 - Butler, Indiana
8 - Angola, Indiana
9 - Albion, Michigan
10 - Sunday
11 - Lapeer, Michigan
12 - Caro, Michigan
13 - Saginaw, Michigan
14 - Flint, Michigan
15 - Clare, Michigan
16 - Cadillac, Michigan
17 - Sunday
18 - Traverse City, Michigan
19 - Kalkaska, Michigan
20 - Big Rapids, Michigan
21 - Grand Rapids, Michigan
22 - Allegan, Michigan
23 - La Grange, Indiana
24 - Sunday
25 - New Castle, Indiana
26 - Connersville, Indiana
27 - Shelbyville, Indiana
28 - Lebanon, Indiana
29 - Fowler, Indiana
30 - Paxton, Illinois
31 - Sunday
                August
1 - Linton, Indiana
2 - Newton, Illinois
3 - Mattoon, Illinois
4 - Lincoln, Illinois
5 - Jacksonville, Illinois
6 - Carthage, Illinois
7 - Sunday
8 - Keokuk, Iowa
9 - Kahoka, Missouri
10 - Memphis, Missouri
11 - Centerville, Iowa
12 - Croydon, Iowa
13 - Leon, Iowa
14 - Sunday
15 - Creston, Iowa
16 - Nebraska City, Nebraska
17 - Auburn, Nebraska
18 - Holton, Kansas
19 - Washington, Kansas
20 - Beloit, Kansas
21 - Sunday
22 - Osborne, Kansas
23 - Concordia, Kansas
24 - Abilene, Kansas
25 - Salina, Kansas
26 - Osage City, Kansas
27 - Garnett, Kansas
28 - Sunday
29 - Newton, Kansas
30 - Great Bend, Kansas
31 - Kinsley, Kansas
September

1 - Larned, Kansas
2 - Conway Springs, Kansas
3 - Eldorado, Kansas
4 - Sunday
5 - Eureka, Kansas
6 - Yates Center, Kansas
7 - Coffeyville, Kansas
8 - Muskogee, Oklahoma
9 - Fort Smith, Arkansas
10 - Clarkesville, Arkansas
11 - Sunday
12 - Memphis, Tennessee
13 - Covington, Tennessee
14 - Dyersburg, Tennessee
15 - Martin, Tennessee
16 - Paducah, Kentucky
17 - Princeton, Kentucky
18 - Sunday
19 - Central City, Kentucky
20 - Springfield, Tennessee
21 - Franklin, Tennessee
22 - Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
23 - Florence, Alabama
24 - Columbia, Tennessee
25 - Sunday
26 - Pulaski, Tennessee
27 - Athens, Alabama
28 - Decatur, Alabama
29 - Cullman, Alabama
30 - Calera, Alabama
October

1 - Montgomery, Alabama
2 - Sunday
3 - Greenville, Alabama
4 - Andalusia, Alabama
5 - Evergreen, Alabama
6 - Mobile, Alabama
7 - Gulfport, Mississippi
8 - Hattiesburg, Mississippi
9 - Sunday
10 - Laurel, Mississippi
11 - Jackson, Mississippi
12 - McComb, Mississippi
13 - Amite, Louisiana
14 - Brookhaven, Mississippi
15 - Hazelhurst, Mississippi
16 - Sunday
17 - Kosciusko, Mississippi
18 - Water Valley, Mississippi
19 - Vaiden, Mississippi
20 - Lexington, Mississippi
21 - Yazoo City, Mississippi
22 - Utica, Mississippi
23 - Sunday
24 - Winnsboro, Louisiana
25 - St. Joseph, Louisiana
26 - Lake Providence, Louisiana
27 - Hamburg, Arkansas
28 - Warren, Arkansas
29 - Arkansas City, Arkansas
30 - Sunday
31 - Hot Springs, Arkansas
November

1 - Arkadelphia, Arkansas
2 - Nashville, Tennessee
End of season

If my counting is correct that's 160 dates with no shows on Sundays. Still want to follow the bandwagon?




This last wagon is not, strictly speaking, a bandwagon, but it is musical. It is the Carillon for the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.  A carillon is usually a consort of different sized bronze or brass  bells suspended in a church tower and played by a group of bell ringers pulling on ropes. Sometimes these bells can have their own separate tower, and a remote device connects them to just one person who plays the bells by hammering their fists on a set of levers arranged into a keyboard. This carillon wagon must have been made extra heavy-duty for the great weight of the bells. It may have had a steam powered mechanism similar to a music box to play tunes as it moved in the parade. The digital image collection of the University of Maryland has a neat photo of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Carillon as it get ready to join the parade. Look to the left of the photo.

Unlike the other photos this one is posed and would seem to show the carillon player with wife and daughter. Or he might be the circus manager. The Hagenbeck-Wallace company was bought by the Ringling Circus in 1929 and continued to operate until 1938.

All of these photos are proper photographs and not postcards. They are marked on the back with a stamp by a very specialized photographer.

Circus Snaps
Robert D. Good
Allentown, PA.







Robert Good was a pharmacist and avid circus fan. For many years in the 40s and 50s  he advertised in various magazines, principally Billboard, offering reprints of his circus photo collection to the many circus enthusiasts in America. It was a popular hobby and must have kept Mr. Good busy.

I'm unsure just how many photos were taken with his camera, but he was not the only dealer selling circus photos. This last page was taken from the circus fan club journal, The Bandwagon, March 1946., again from the Circushistory.org website. Who would think that contortionists could be a hobby? Is that like yoga?












I know I would follow the bandwagon. Wouldn't you?
But if you would like to see more elephants, large and small,
follow the link to Sepia Saturday.



11 comments:

Wendy said...

Leave it to you to be able to combine music and an elephant! I cannot begin to imagine that circus schedule. I've been to the Ringling Museum and have seen how complex the setting up and tearing down could be. To do that every couple of days had to be grueling.

Christine H. said...

I'd like to jump on the bandwagon! Although I suppose if I got on with my accordion everybody else would quickly get off the bandwagon.

Little Nell said...

I’d be jumping on that bandwagon too! I’m so pleased that you managed to bring elephants into your post and in such a stylish way. As enjoyable as ever.

Kristin said...

I looked over the list to see if any of my ancestors would be on the route of this circus. Only those in Montgomery Alabama.

Postcardy said...

I wish I had had a chance to see a real circus parade.

Sharon said...

Imagine being a child and seeing the procession going past. It would have been so exciting!

Bob Scotney said...

I'd gladly jump on these bandwagons but especially the first. I shall be looking out for the next circus that comes to town.

barbara and nancy said...

What fabulous photos and a great history lesson as well. As to the contortionist collector - pretty creepy!
Nancy

Carte Postale said...

Great post! I love all the history of wagons. They are spectacular works of art. Lovely photos.

Food Smarts said...

Contortionists now make plenty of moola if they're good working for the likes of Cirque du Soleil. One of my classmates in elementary school contorted? and she appeared at every school concert dressed in a sparkly jumpsuit. She'd walk in from the wings onto the stage on her hands and then twist into two or three contortions, do a split and take a bow. We thought it was very icky and teased her about it. I wish I could go back and apologize to her - what brats we were.

tony said...

Oh Lord Mike Where& How Do You Find All These Memories!! Another Rich Meal.Thank You :)

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