Books [Circus Days and Ways]
Bein' with a circus made me a hero among them youngsters, and did I glory in it. I knew I'd have to stay in school awhile longer - I couldn't help myself, but in the back of my head I know that when I got a little bit older I was goin' to join up with a circus and be a showman for always, and always.
My family was determined that I was goin' to be a doctor, like my old man was. They insisted that I take up the study of medicine and follow in my father's footsteps. In them days, anybody that thought they was cut out for it, could be a doctor if they wanted to. All you needed was a little schoolin' and be handy around sick folks and not be afraid of the sight of blood. All medicine was bitter, if it was any good, and if they didn't know what ailed a person they 'cupped' him and drew some blood. Then he either got better or worse, as God willed. I might of made a good doctor, at that, if I only could of got show business off my mind.
When I got a few years older, I was able to out-talk the old folks and get my own way. I give up all thought of pill-rollin' and left home to join a circus, and I stuck with circuses for nearly sixty years of my life. Studyin' for a doctor, though, give me the nickname, “Doc”, and wherever on this globe the gray dawn seas a “big top” bein' raised, that's the name I'm knowed by.
I been asked to draw a comparison between the circus of today and the circus of the past. Well, they just ain't no comparison. The circus in this day and age seems really to be the stupendous, gigantic, colossal exhibition the advance billing and the “barkers”, “spielers”, and “grinders”, claim for it. The oldtime circus was a puny forerunner of the mammoth aggregations now on the road. The circus your grandfather went to see as a boy, was nothin' more than a variety, or vaudeville, show under canvas. Pretty near all the acts they done in the circus