6 every so often in the old days. Many of the Hey Rubes was started by folks figgerin' they wasn't gettin' all the circus advertised; if the stupendous wasn't stupendous enough, the gigantic wasn't gigantic enough, the colossal wasn't colossal enough, or the “largest in captivity” wasn't large enough, the town folks felt like they had grounds for a fight. Another common cause of Hey Rubes was because petty thieves, purse-snatchers and pickpockets, followed circuses from town to town. The circus got blamed for what them slickers did, but they was nothing they could do about it. When the crooks hit a crowd too hard, and too many people got plucked, the town folk got together and tried to take it out on the circus people. Pretty near every Hey Rube I ever seen ended with the town folks comin' out second best physically, although the circus usually lost out financially. Lawsuits always followed a Hey Rube, and circus people had no chance for a square deal in a prejudiced small-town court.
I was in a Hey Rube in Lincoln, Illinois, once. It was one of the toughest battles I ever seen. The town boys was coalminers and same of the toughest customers I ever seen. We strung out in a circle around our stuff and stood 'em off with “laying out pins” and whacked 'em with “side-poles”, finally giving 'em the run, but they sure could take it. Another Hey Rube in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was started by a gang of students from the University of Michigan, for no good reason at all except perhaps they thought it was funny. It cost the circus I was with more than $35,000 in lawsuits and damage to equipment. In a Hey Rube, most of the lawsuits that follow is usually by some innocent bystander who gets hurt in the scramble.
The circus owners - you name 'em, I worked for 'em - were all big men of fine character. Everyone of the big circus owners was a square-shootin', two-fisted boss, and not a sissy among 'em. I knowed the Ringling family well — the