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Old 09-18-2010, 11:33 PM   #1
xoxoxoBruce
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Sept 19, 2010: The Big Top

The Big Top, the magical words describing the symbol, and the center, of the circus, when the circus was the king of entertainment.
One account I read, described one Big Top tent as 188,000 square yards of canvas, and with the axillary tents, added up to over a quarter million square yards. Imagine the weight, wet with rain, or even dew.



This huge tent, with all the poles, ropes, stakes, and seats for 9,000, is most often put up and taken down the same day.
And again the next day... and the next.

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First comes the driving of the stakes, no slight task, since each stake is four or five feet in length, two or three inches thick, and has to be driven three fourths of its length into hard ground. Between two hundred and three hundred blows of the sledge are required to get a stake home. The sledges have handles three feet long and heads that weigh seventeen pounds. They must be swung high into the air, and be brought down with the full force of a pair of strong arms. There are over a thousand of these stakes to be driven, which means two hundred and fifty thousand blows of the sledges. But for their special skill, this work alone would take the men half a day. They will do it easily in forty-five minutes. They being with the “big top” tent, which is marked out four hundred and forty feet in length and one hundred and eighty feet in width. There are three hundred and fifty stakes to be driven here, and four gangs of men, of seven or eight men each, are charged to drive them. The leader of each gang places the stake where the iron rod stood, taps it two or three blows to make it stand alone, and then with a nod signals the gang to begin striking. The seven men stand in a circle around the stake, their sledges ready. Each man swings his sledge through a full circle, the heavy hammers coming down on the iron head of the stake in regular and rapid succession. Each man strikes about one blow a second, so that the stake receives seven blows a second. So skillful are the men that they never miss a blow, never interfere with each other, and never vary from the musical rhythm set by the leader. The blows have a well-marked accent or beat on the third or fourth stroke, so that they seem to be striking in three-time or four-time, and this all over the field; for at the same time other gangs are driving the stakes for the other tents. The effect for the listener is very interesting.
You can read at the Circus Historical Society website, the entire process, how hundreds of people and animals, assemble and dismantle the circus in a day.
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:54 AM   #2
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The Big Top.......

John Henry was a steel drivin' man.......

John Henry, he just pulled out two 20-pound hammers, one in each hand.

http://americanfolklore.net/folklore...ohn_henry.html
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:34 AM   #3
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Imagine the incinerated folks when all that non-fireproof canvass lights off...

Yikes!
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Old 09-19-2010, 09:02 AM   #4
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When I read big top, I thought of Marge Simpson or Dolly Parton.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:07 AM   #5
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And all with no safety glasses.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:08 PM   #6
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This? For my birthday?

No way, the circus freaks me out!

I want another dormouse.

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Old 09-19-2010, 02:26 PM   #7
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wow. one blow of those sledgehammers would kill you; or at least maim.
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Old 09-19-2010, 04:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spudcon View Post
When I read big top, I thought of Marge Simpson or Dolly Parton.
I was thinking someone like John Cena. ;-)
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloud View Post
wow. one blow of those sledgehammers would kill you; or at least maim.
Yeah, I've had some that I thought were gonna.
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:02 AM   #10
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Fantastic.

If you enjoyed the article in the link, you might want to pick up "City of Baraboo" by Barry B Longyear. Circus by rocketship.
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuancoRocks View Post
John Henry was a steel drivin' man.......

John Henry, he just pulled out two 20-pound hammers, one in each hand.

http://americanfolklore.net/folklore...ohn_henry.html
[JohnnyCash] John Henry's mammy had about a dozen babies, John Henry's pappy broke jail about a dozen times [/JohnnyCash]

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Old 09-22-2010, 07:44 AM   #12
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Johny Cash in his own style. Excellent.
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