Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Hundred Years Ago, When Life was Big and Grand

From the newspaper.....The Review....of High Point, NC. 14 Sep 1914 (one hundred years ago this past week):
The Otis L. Adams Shows are now holding forth in Mechanicsville Ball Park and large crowds are attending nightly, even the opening night, Monday drawing a good crowd. There are a number of good shows on the ground and well worth seeing. Perhaps the best feature of all is the motor-dome wherein two motorcyclist race with death around the edges of a round enclosure, whose walls are almost perpendicular. It is a sensation worth experiencing. The educated gorilla, the “what is it” animal from southwest Texas, the diving man, snakes, Ferris wheel and other attractions are worth the price. The usual “spend-your-money-as-you-please” attractions are on the midway. We found Manager Adams a very pleasant gentleman and always ready to serve the public to the best advantage. He is the son of a Methodist minister and says he has been in the show business since a mere boy. He is highly elated over the fact that this is the first time out of nine that he has been successful in getting a date for the High Point and said he was determined to make a winning attempt this time if he lost $1000 by coming. But it looks like he going to make good out of his first venture here. 

It is the front page, and highlights one of the top thrills of the week going on in High Point.  The county fair with these traveling shows.....with the introduction of cars....became a big attraction.  People drove for an hour or two.....bringing the entire family out to a show. We dressed in finer clothing, and were on good manners with peers watching us.

Yeah, we came for the motorcycle death race.  We begged to see the diving man.  We all sat there for hours debating what really was the "what is it" creature from west Texas.  We guessed the remarkable intelligence of the guerrilla and if he'd eventually replace the teacher in our school.  We dreamed of snakes for weeks after the fair.  The Ferris Wheel was a once-in-your-lifetime thrill.

Generally, all of these shows had scantily-clad women wrestling, hidden tavern-like operations for cheap booze, and a chance to take bets on various things which tended to always go wrong.

 The Review gave it great press, and worded in a pretty classic way.  They injected a couple of key comments....the son of a Methodist peal away your curious nature.  "Serve the public to the best advantage" was a nice way to say that it's a show to dip into your pocket and spend money on some event.

The truth is.....we don't get write-ups like this anymore.  We don't have traveling shows like this anymore.  We don't delight in death-defying motorcycle races in steel cages anymore.  And we don't wonder about the mysterious creature from west Texas.  That says a little about society a hundred years later.  We are.....less, and kinda shaking our head over that.

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