Ringling Brothers - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

As any visitor to the American Treasure Tour knows, we have lots of cool stuff dedicated to the circus throughout the collection.  There is no more famous circus in the world than the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, which is why we honor them today by highlighting one of their many pieces of memorabilia scattered throughout the collection.  This little stuffed elephant is tucked away in the Toy Box. (Is it fair to say "tusked" away?  No?  We tried.)  You receive extra credit if you locate it.  I'll give you a hint:  think goat pillow fight.

There were seven brothers - Albert, Augustus, Otto, Alfred, Charles, John and Henry - enough to make a musical!  And one sister, Ida.  Born between 1852 and 1874, the siblings were raised in Baraboo, Wisconsin by their German immigrant families, who steered their lives towards the circus as children, and they never looked back.  In fact, their shows continue almost eighty years after the death of John, the last of the brothers to survive.
QUESTION:  What did the Ringling Brothers promote their circus as once they merged with the Barnum & Bailey?
A)  A pretty okay show
B)  The best show on earth
C)  The most super show on earth
D)  The greatest show on earth

THANKS A LOT, OREGON!  Although automobiles had been selling for over two decades by this date in 1919, a lot of the infrastructure we now take for granted was not yet in place.  For example, there were no cross-country roads to speak of, and relatively few actual gas stations. Even more appealing, no one had bothered to actually tax gasoline.  Until today.  And we can thank the state of Oregon for implementing the first gas tax on this day in that year.  So again we say, thanks a lot, Oregon.  

HOORAY HERBERT!  Every funny man needs a straight man.  In the case of the Marx Brothers, every three funny men needed a straight man, and that was youngest brother Herbert, whose nickname was Zeppo.  He starred in many of the earliest films, including Duck Soup, Horse Feathers and Animal Crackers.  Important to the films, Zeppo nevertheless retired from acting in 1933, after which he became a theatrical engineer and, more significantly, an engineer.  In fact, he was the force behind the "Marman Clamp," which was used during World War II to keep the atomic bombs in place before they were released to devastating effect in August of 1945.

QUOTE:  Women should be obscene and not heard. - Groucho Marx

ANSWER:  A)  A pretty okay show.  We're kidding, of course.  It was/is D) The greatest show on earth!