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Wishful Wednesday: The Circus is in Town!

School not to be dismissed for the circus. Marion Daily Star, Marion, Ohio, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, P 12. Used with permission.
School not to be dismissed for the circus. Marion Daily Star, Marion, Ohio, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, P 12. Used with permission. (Click to enlarge.)

Broida Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

The circus coming to town generated lots of excitement throughout the centuries, even through the first quarter of the 20th century. In times when the major public entertainments were lecturers, singers, some stage theater, and finally silent movies (until 1927 when ‘talkies’ were introduced), the circus brought exotic people, titilating costumes, wild animals, and daring acts to even small towns throughout the land. The circus parade through town as the people, equipment, and animals were unloaded was a fabulous advertising gimmick to get the town wishing to attend, and ready to rush in to buy tickets and explore the shows.

We know the appeal of the circus affected our wishful ancestors, with at least two of them- Max Broida/Buster Brodie and Jefferson Springsteen- running off to join the circus when young. Max Broida, AKA Buster Brodie in Hollywood, was likely a performer since he later became an actor; he possibly was a clown as he was very short and very bald, even when young. We do not know what Jefferson Springsteen did as a young man in the circus, however. He was a painter later in life, so perhaps he painted signs, backdrops, etc. Jeff was a good rider as a young man- he delivered mail on horseback through the wilds of early Indiana, so possibly he was a part of the trick riders found in most circuses. It would be great to know more about what they did in the circus- their stories of those times must have been amazing!

We had ancestors in Marion, Ohio (Beerbowers)  in 1923, so they would have possibly been a part of this excitement. Those in rural areas would come into town as well, so the circus was a huge community event. Countless more of our ancestors in other towns enjoyed the circus through the years, whether they had seats at a show, wandered through the aisles of the set up circus, or just watched the parade in town.

Old movies show young boys skipping school to go watch the circus set up, but even those children still sitting at their desks likely had their minds elsewhere- and maybe even their teachers did too! So this 1923 article from the Marion Daily Star in Marion, Ohio, gives us a hint at how important circus days were to a town.

Apparently there were requests to close down the school on circus parade day, but the school board thought they would instead follow what had occurred in previous years: parents could write a note to excuse their student to attend the circus. (Can you imagine that in today’s world of high-stakes education??) The board was smart though, as students would likely have more interest in geography and biology after seeing an elephant in person with its exotic Indian trainer, or a tiger jumping through hoops of fire. (Good teachers would have taken advantage of this too.) Persons from around the globe would have been part of the circus as well, and learning more about a ‘Chinaman’ or African pygmy would have been a way to teach students about diversity in a world where little of that existed at that time. (It was probably more of a novelty than diversity training, however.)

Those who didn’t have the pennies to attend the circus were not forgotten- the schools would be notified when the parade started, and students would be allowed to attend the parade before continuing their studies in the afternoon.

April 25, 1923, must have been a very exciting day for our wishful ancestors in Marion, Ohio!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) School not to be dismissed for the circus. Marion Daily Star, Marion, Ohio, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, P 12. Used with permission.

2) Max Broida/Buster Brodie and the circus: The Real Max Broida, AKA Buster Brodie at http://heritageramblings.net/2015/04/10/the-real-max-broida-aka-buster-brodie/

http://heritageramblings.net/2015/04/10/the-real-max-broida-aka-buster-brodie/

3) Jefferson Springsteen and the circus: There are three parts to the series concerning Jeff’s obituary that includes the circus story- see Wishful Wednesday: Jefferson Springsteen was “Lured by the Sawdust Ring…” at http://heritageramblings.net/2014/10/08/wishful-wednesday-jefferson-springsteen-was-lured-by-the-sawdust-ring/ for the first post.

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Sentimental Sunday: Blue Laws and the Newfangled Movies

1923 Prohibition on Sunday Movies, in Marion {OH] Daily Star, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, page 1. Used with kind permission of the Marion Daily Star.
1923 Prohibition on Sunday Movies, in Marion [OH] Daily Star, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, page 1. Used with kind permission of the Marion Daily Star.

Sunday Blue Laws prohibiting sales of certain items, most notably liquor but also non-necessities, were around for many years, prevalent even into the 1970s. Some cities/states still have them, and lives have to be planned around them, but they do give employees time off to worship (if they worship on a Sunday- not all religions do) and/or be with family.

Transcription of 1923 article above:

SUNDAY MOVIE LAW UPHELD BY COURT

Columbus, April 17 — The su-

preme court today again up-

held the constitutionality of the 

state law prohibiting Sunday motion

pictures, when it refused to hear

the appeal of Walter K. Richards

from the decision of the Hancock

county courts, prohibiting him from

operating his motion picture theater

in Findley on Sunday.

It was surprising to see that movie theaters were included in these type of laws. This newspaper article from Marion, Ohio indicates that a court appeal was brought to the State Supreme Court by a theater owner after he lost his case to stay open on Sunday in Findley, Hancock County, Ohio.  The income lost from not being open that one day was probably significant, especially since many persons would be off work on Sundays and have more time to see a movie. Despite the hardship to his business, the Ohio Supreme Court concurred with the opinion of the lower courts, and Walter K. Richards was not allowed even to appeal.

What was shown in a movie theater back then would have been silent films with an organist playing a soundtrack- ‘talkies’ didn’t come around until 1927.

It would be interesting to know if stage productions were allowed on Sundays in Ohio in 1923.

Some of our ancestors lived in Ohio in 1923- wonder how they felt about prohibiting theaters from opening on Sundays? We do know that many members of the Beerbower/Peters family were very religious, so it is likely they applauded the courts for upholding the law and Sunday as a day of rest. Although many of our then-young ancestors were very active in church groups, how likely was it that they would have wanted to go to the movies on a Sunday with their sweetheart or friends? Probably not all of our ancestors were religious enough to consider closing movie theaters on Sunday required by the church, and some likely worked six days a week- they would have liked a bit of entertainment on their day off. Don’t forget that there was no television or cable tv in 1923!

 

This court case also shows how judicial attitude changes over time as the pendulum swings back and forth. Today, our courts strongly uphold the rights of businesses, especially in cases that affect their bottom line.

So, were these “the good ole days,” or not?? Are you sentimental for a time when family and church were a societal focus, or more sentimental for the Sunday afternoons you may have spent at the movies with family or friends?

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) 1923 Prohibition on Sunday Movies, in Marion [OH] Daily Star, 17 Apr 1923, Vol. XLVII, No. 122, page 1. Used with kind permission of the Marion Daily Star.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.