Thursday, July 3, 2014

B98. Grandma Remembers Tent Circuses and Open Airplanes

My Grandma Vestal was born July 4, 1914, exactly 100 years ago this week. In 1994, at the age of 80, five years prior to her death, she wrote a series of stories for the local newspaper about her childhood near Boonville, NC.  I don't know how many articles she wrote, but I have copies of three and would love for any family members who have others to share them with me.  Leading up to her 100th birthday, this is the third in a series of these stories, published Oct. 26, 1994.  Grandma said:

I must have been 7 or 8 years old when we went to Elkin in our first car, a Chevrolet, to see my first circus. The thing I remember most about the circus is the elephants. They were so big and smelly.

Back then, the animals were transported from each place by trains, then taken to the tent by trucks and wagons. Elephants being so large were simply walked to the tent by their trainers.

Nearing town, we passed the elephants. The road was very narrow, and we were moving slowly so as not to excite the animals, I suppose. I was already scared stiff just seeing such beasts when one big old fellow swung that old big trunk of his toward us and almost reached into the car. As you know all cars were open back then, no windows to roll up! I was simply terrified. My daddy was holding me and telling me everything was alright, but everything looked all wrong to me just then!

The other big attraction that day was an airplane. I can't remember much about that but do recall hearing people afterward talking about the wonder of anything that size being able to just take off and fly!

Years later, when I was a freshman in high school, my daddy and I took our first ride in one. My brother had recently returned from service in the Air Force and finally talked Daddy into taking a flight in one. It was during our annual community fair in the high school gym and a private owner of a plane was taking people for rides from an open field nearby.  I think each trip was five dollars. The pilot helped us up into the plane after fitting us for a helmet and goggles, He then strapped us into our seats. There were two single seats, behind the pilot's seat. I was in the seat directly behind the pilot and my daddy was in the back one.

Of course the first planes had open cockpits and no top over them. The roar of the motor and the force of the wind was so strong. I tried to say something to my daddy and couldn't even hear my own voice! I looked back at him and he was as white as a sheet. He was as terrified as I was over the elephant. I pointed for him to look down, but I don't think he ever did. I was enjoying myself because everything down on the ground was so interesting. Fields and woods were in checkerboard shapes to me, and people walking around at the fair reminded me of ants. They looked so small. My daddy never would talk about that ride to anyone. I often wonder what he would think of our big jets of today.

Related posts:
B10: Grandma's Childhood Memories
B11.  Grandma's Childhood World
B12. Grandma's Childhood: Memories of Family
B13. Grandma's Birth and Ancestry
B14.  Grandma's Special Memories and Favorite Pastimes
B15.  Grandma Meets Grandpa
B16.  Grandma's Kitchen
B17.  Grandma: Children, Grandchildren, and Random Musings
B96.  Grandma Remembers Corn Harvest and Corn Shuckings
B97. Grandma Remembers Her School Days

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