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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

The Barnum & Bailey Circus came to Spokane, and a longtime “conservative” circusgoer wrote a story saying it had lost some of its “old-time circus flavor.”

For instance, he said the circus had “too many new-fangled animals.” He was pleased to see, however, that the hippo was still labeled the “Blood-Sweating Behemoth of Holy Writ.”

The clowns went through all of their “traditional clown tricks” but added modern twists of which he did not approve, including “a suffrage parade” and a “eugenic baby.” He did enjoy the fact that the Clown Doctor used an apparatus labeled “Stomach Pump” to remove a “small dog” from a clown’s prodigious stomach. He wasn’t so enamored of the fact that the traditional opening “troupe parade” around the three rings was replaced with a “ballet and pantomime with oriental trappings.” 

The performing elephants unveiled some new tricks. They went through the motions of a baseball game, complete with an umpire argument and a “slide for home plate.”

The “after-show,” traditionally a fairly seedy freak show, was replaced by a Wild West performance. 

“However, the freaks were in the side show, thus preserving the balance between old and new,” the correspondent said. 

New-fangled or not, the audience loved it. The crowds overflowed from the tent on opening night.