Adam Forepaugh - Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You know the deal.  The American Treasure Tour has lots and lots of cool stuff - some of it is impossible to overlook, some is tucked away in a corner and rarely gets noticed by visitors. Today's headliner falls into the latter category.  It is a poster, located in the back room in the Toy Box where all the cool band organs are.  And it's for a professional circus man that we can safely say no person alive today has ever seen perform.

Adam Forepaugh & Sells Bros Big United Show and "The Hazardous Terrific Double Forward Somersault" is on on display, subtly located on our wall.  (Our poster is a little more yellow than the image to the right. The passage of time changes things.)  Forepaugh's is a rags to riches story.  Born desperately poor in Philadelphia in 1831, he made a fortune selling horses to the U.S. government during the Civil War.  From there, the circus beckoned.  Forepaugh's circus quickly became one of the two largest in the country, a rival with that of P.T. Barnum.  The two showmen were often competing for the larger crowd, occasionally working together, and also undermining one another.  In fact, it was Forepaugh who accredited Barnum as saying "There's a sucker born every minute," a famous phrase Barnum never actually said.  Notably, Barnum also never denied saying it.
QUESTION:  When Forepaugh decided to bow out of circus life, to whom did he sell his railroad cars?
A)  The U.S. Government
B)  P.T. Barnum
C)  James Anthony Bailey
D)  The Ringling Brothers

D.C. DOWN TO BUSINESS.  Lots of events happen that may seem of little note at the time, but have great symbolic meaning for years to come.  This day in 1789, two men begin the process of laying out the new Federal City for the young United States.  After the death of the planned city's biggest supported ten years later, it would be called Washington, D.C. in his honor.  But in 1789, those two men had a big job ahead of them.  Charles L'Enfant, the French emigre, would not see the project to its end.  The other man, Benjamin Banneker, was a brilliant mathematician who also happened to be African American.  We can all be grateful that his skills were appreciated during his lifetime, although D.C. is a tough city to drive around.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOROTHY.  Many people forget just how many films were produced in the days before sound was added.  Of the thousands of actors who performed in silent films, few are well remembered today.  It would be sad to think the Gish sisters might be among those. Today we celebrate the birth of younger sister Dorothy, born in 1898 and five years junior to Lillian.  They often filmed together, most famously for D.W. Griffiths.  Dorothy had a reputation for impeccable comedic timing and effective dramatic performances.  Although she lived until 1968, she only made five films after 1930.  Search out any of her films, though.  You'll be glad you did (hopefully)!

QUOTE:  You can get through life with bad manners, but it's easier with good manners. - Lillian Gish

ANSWER:  D)  The Ringling Brothers.  He sold many of his acts to James Anthony Bailey. The sales eventually put Barnum's circus at too great a disadvantage and compelled Barnum to sell out to Bailey, who then sold old to the Ringling Brothers.  Did you follow all that?