The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Collectible History: Ringling Brothers 1970 Souvenir Program

I promised I'd come back to this. So, here it is, now that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is no more, closing down forever 47 years after this souvenir program came into my much younger hands, the 1970 Souvenir Program and Magazine.

I was going to provide some history of the circus, but you can look that up. Instead, I'll tell you what it felt like to be there as a child. We must have seen the Red Unit somewhere between Wednesday, March 11 and Sunday. April 5, 1970 in Washington, D.C. The arena was large with seating high up surrounding the three rings. In my youthful estimation, this really was "The Greatest Show on Earth." What I remember most vividly was having my heart in my throat every time the high wire and flying acrobats took to their swings, rings, and wires. We were far enough up it felt like those acrobats were right up there at eye level with you. As a kid with an acute fear of heights, those acts left me with sweaty palms. I remember begin torn between looking and not looking. Every act on the ground was a huge relief for me. The clowns were wonderful in my young estimation, although I don't remember seeing the guy dressed as an astronaut.

There were 28 displays listed in the program.
That's a lot of action

There were of course many animal acts. Back in 1970, we weren't much thinking about the way those animals were treated, especially not me as a kid. I marveled at the size and strength of the animals in those rings. While I'm glad now that wild animals have been retired from the Ringling Brothers circuses. But back in the day, they were a source of amazement, to be completely honest with you.

There is one picture from the souvenir program that encapsulates what I remember of my day at the circus. It is the two page spread showing many pictures of a circus performance in action. All that motion, all that movement, all those different acts in three rings kept you shifting from one location to another with a mix of emotions depending on what you were witnessing at any given moment. The place was packed, the audience responded as you could expect with laughter and shrieks and applause. The ringmaster's booming voice kept everything in motion. For me, all those performers are caught in my mind as they were back in 1970. They will always be the way they were then for me, as will the circus.

Oh, by the way, the Circus World Museum of Baraboo, Wisconsin, discussed in the program is still up and running apparently. Go see for yourself at:

Now, here's the rest:

I remember plenty of clowns, but not the clown astronaut!

To see ads from this program, go to:
To see more of the named performer's pictures, see:

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