Red Eldridge joins the circus On September 11, 1916, Sparks World Famous Shows Big Top Circus arrived in St. Paul, Virginia, a tiny mining town nestled in the hills of Clinch River Valley. It was that same day that 38-year-old Walter “Red” Eldridge, a hotel janitor, was hired on the spot as an assistant elephant trainer. Eldridge knew nothing about elephants but felt certain he could wield the hooked elephant stick that was required to keep the beasts in line. Besides, he was a drifter that had already roamed the country in a boxcar – a travelling circus-life with Sparks World Famous Shows would be right up his alley. Sparks World Famous Shows was owned and operated by Charlie Sparks. It was a small travelling circus that
The history of the freak show Freak shows were popular attractions during the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries until changes in societal attitudes towards handicapped persons and tightening of local laws prohibiting “exhibition of deformed human beings” led to the decline of the freak show as a form of entertainment. Featuring attractions such as deformed humans and animals, unusual physical performers, “pickled punks” (abnormal fetuses preserved in glass jars), and occasional hoaxes (e.g. “bouncers” - fake pickled punks made from rubber), the freak show has captivated audiences since as early as the 16th century. The 1600's thru 1800's By 1600, severe physical human deformities and animal abnormalities were no longer deemed bad omens or manifestations of evil spirits residing within the person’s body and the public display
Say it isn't so! An entire troupe of circus performing fleas has fallen victim to the freezing temperatures holding Germany in its frosty grip. Flea circus director Robert Birk says he was shocked to find all of his 300 fleas dead inside their transport box Wednesday morning. Leaving him unable to fulfill his performance engagements, Birk scrambled to find and train a new batch (i.e. find a new batch of "lively" fleas). Luckily, an insect expert at a nearby university was able to provide 50 new fleas in time for the first show on Sunday.