A few years ago the Ford Bros. circus came to town.  Like so many traveling extravaganzas of days long gone, the show was in its final days of death and didn’t know it.  After a bad accident in Sitka Alaska where the lion escaped and ate one of the ponies, it was only a matter of time before all would be over.  In Anchorage, the manager ran off will the money and the circus was finally abandoned.  The remaining animals ended up in the zoo and the colorful cast of characters moved on, hopefully to better lives.

But on that one rainy day in Juneau, I had my chance to photograph the entire spectacle.  This is EVERYONE in the circus.  People were packed in the tent waiting for the show to start.  While the recorded music was playing, all hands quickly assembled outside.  I only had about three minutes and one chance with the old cirkut camera on a 12 foot tripod before the real show began.

After the performance, with everything packed tight in our 1975 Chevette, Judy and our kids returned to the car to find that I had the clown inside.  I had mentioned to him that I owned a 1920’s panoramic photo of a circus and wondered if he wanted to see it.  So off we went, Camera, family, and clown to my darkroom. 

After staring at my print for a few minutes he pointed to a trapeze performer and said “That’s my mother!”  I knew he couldn’t leave without owning it.  So I gave him my original signed E.O.Goldbeck photo of the Sells-Floto circus.  He earned it.

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