Manuscripts/Mixed Material [Circus Days and Ways]
Text of Interview (Unedited)
Federal Writers' Project
Works Progress Administration
OREGON FOLKLORE STUDIES
Name of worker A. C. Sherbert, Date January 13, 1939.
Address Project Office.
Subject Circus Days and Ways
Name and address of informant W. E. “Doc” Van Alstine, Jefferson Hotel, Cor. First and Jefferson Sts., Portland, Oregon.
I was born in the little town of Kinderhook, New York, in 1847. My father was Doctor Thomas Van Alstine, who later served as a surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War.
At an early age I had a yearning for the show business. School didn't interest me a bit. I hated books. I wasn't a danged bit interested in reading about what somebody else did, or where they went, or what they saw. I wanted to go, do, and see things for myself, and I couldn't think of any better way to satisfy my ambition than to join up with a circus.
School, in my day, wasn't much like it is now. Boy, oh boy, in them days if you didn't toe the line you got what was comin' to you. Teachers and parents both, in them days, had spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child ideas, and if a youngster didn't do exactly what he was told, they used to lay it on plenty with a hickory switch, or somethin' just as good.
Come a day, once, when I was a young gaffer in my early teens, I had a chance to run away with the Mighty Yankee Robinson Circus. The lure of sawdust