And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, "Editor Emeritus"

... that I think I am suffering SAD... seasonal affective disorder.

As of today, Jan. 23, we are experiencing another day without sunshine, one of a long stretch of such days. It hasn’t been cold, and in fact we have succeeded in getting rid of almost all the ice and snow... finally! But the forecast says we will see it replaced by the middle of this week.

So SAD continues.

Recent stories about the closing of Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, the “Greatest Show on Earth”, caused me to reflect on a long-ago experience.

When I was about 11, my Uncle Joe and Aunt Elsie invited my mother and me to go with them to see the circus in La Crosse. Joe had spent a lot of time in La Crosse getting treatment for a medical condition, and so knew the city pretty well.

Here is where my memory gets hazy. Joe said we should get to the grounds early so we could get a good parking place. Am I remembering correctly that the grounds was near a railroad track, and that the circus arrived by train?

Because I do remember it was very late arriving, and we got to see the elephants put to use in setting up the big tent. There were lots of elephants, and it appeared they were used to the work.

When we got seated, we had front row seats very near the center ring. Uncle Joe must have “known somebody” to get those choice seats! My mother would have been in her early 30s, and while I did not recognize it at the time, photos show she was very slim and attractive. Early in the performance, famed clown Emmett Kelly came right over to her, and did a pantomime of his beating heart. She was embarrassed but probably also pleased.

She was less pleased a little later when all those elephants came trotting along and each stood and placed its front feet on the rear of the elephant ahead of it. She said later she was afraid that if they had tipped over, they would have crushed us!

Animal protection activists forced the circus to get rid of its elephants, and that spelled the doom of the circus. Small towns like Waukon used to draw small tent shows from time to time, sometimes referred to as “one elephant” circuses. But at least they had one.

Speaking of circuses, Roman satirist Juvenal once referred to societies concerned with just “bread and circuses.”

My sometimes weird mind put together two unassociated things over the weekend. The “hen party” (women’s march) on Washington the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. And this is the “year of the rooster” in the Chinese or lunar calendar.

Sorry about that.

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