Tales of the Yellow Wagon Show

It is a small volume of 133 pages with photographs and illustration. The book has been in our collection for many years but I had not noticed it until we sold it. The book, which originally sold for $1.00, was a 1905 present to Miss Ella Sutter of Oklahoma from Mr. Bonheur of a traveling circus.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s traveling shows were popular, particularly in small, rural communities. One such show was operated by the Bonheur Brothers – Amos, Howard, and James. Their story is told in Troupers of the Golden Mascot or Tales of the Yellow Wagon Shows by Louis Wood (1904, Kenyon Press, Des Moines Iowa).

Their wagons were painted golden yellow “a color…tabooed by all superstitious professionals of the tan bark arena.” (Tan bark refers to the wood chips or sawdust put down to make a circus arena.) During the Kansas drought of 1901, it was said that “wherever the yellow wagon show appeared rain fell, even in the dryest places.” The story became great publicity for these traveling showmen.

This hard to find little volume is filled with stories of unusual performers – Sam Trew a tuba player who did an Irish monologue; monkeys that rode horseback; snake charmers, costumed dancing dogs. Its an odd little book of rambling tales


Published in: on August 31, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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