Kirshenblatt, Mayer (1916-2009)
Circus, October 2005
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 in.
"I always looked forward to the arrival of the circus. Its beautiful caravans were gaily painted. The caravans had low wheels, like little trailers, and were drawn by big horses. Men and women walked beside the caravans, which were followed by large platform wagons carrying all their equipment. They immediately headed for the open space at the bottom of a precipice, up the street from the shopa at the eastern end of Broad Street. The day after the circus arrived, I played hooky so I could watch them set up the tent and the carousel. When the tent was ready, the circus performers lined up for the parade. The women wore scanty dresses and tights, and the men were all dressed up in top hats and spangles. The circus master was dressed up just like you see in the movies. Some performers were on horseback, some walked, and some rode in carriages. Everyone young and old, turned out to see the circus parade.
That evening, the circus was up and running. I helped feed and water the horses, made myself useful, and got into the circus for free. Sometimes I even snuck in under the canvas tent. There were trapeze artists, midgets who performed as clowns, and animal acts with trained bears and dogs. The equestrians rode big horses, their rumps combed in a checkerboard pattern. The horses pranced around the arena in a circle. Some performers rode bareback. Others stood on the horses' backs at full gallop."