Tag Archives: Circus

Circus Elephants Get A Police Escort In Los Angeles May 6, 1953

Elephants In The Streets Of Los Angeles

credit: Los Angeles Daily News 1953

Elephants in the streets?

It must be for the circus and they’re transporting their pachyderms to a show site.

But this is Los Angeles where movie magic can be the reason behind unusual happenings. Continue reading

The Circus Fat Family Leaves Brooklyn For The Country

The “Fat Family” Moves To The Country – 1914

The following article is from Chicago’s The Saturday Blade newspaper July 18, 1914:

New York, July 16 – Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Tanner and their four giant children, known to circus folk as the “Fat Family” have been sent to the country by kindly disposed women who became interested in their case. Tanner is going to rest for a week or so and then he will try to get a job.

“I guess by the time we’re all rested up some show will come along that’s a real one,” said Mrs. Tanner the thin mother of the fat children.

The last show the Tanners were in was not a real one. It went broke and Mr. and Mrs. Tanner were compelled to appeal to give their babies shelter and food lest they starve to death.

“Buster” Tanner, 5 years old is the heaviest, his weight being 187 pounds. Little Doris, alias “Snookums,” is six months old and weighs 63 pounds. The others, Barnard and Alvin, 2 and 3 years old, would take prizes for weight at any baby show, though they look thin beside the youngest and oldest of the four. The home of the Tanners is Nicholson, GA.

Today the media and public would either exploit this family or call to prosecute them for child abuse. Remember the Honey Boo Boo craze? In 1914 there was nothing wrong with the word fat or being fat. Today calling someone fat is considered “body shaming” by this generation’s snowflake word censors.

We Need Food

Figuring Coney Island would be a good place to get employment the Fat Family came looking for a sideshow.

The Fat Family’s father Marshall explained to a Brooklyn police lieutenant that they had come from Chicopee, MA where the circus had gone bust owing them $100. “We had just enough money to get to New York and we came. Here we are now. We have no engagement, no money, no food and no place to sleep. Not having food is a serious matter.” And in what may be the biggest understatement, Mr. Tanner added, ” The children are fond of eating.”

The news story had no substantial follow up, and the Fat Family Continue reading

Baby Ruth – She Wasn’t Fat Enough

At Over 800 Pounds Baby Ruth Pontico Wanted To Be The First Woman To Weigh Half A Ton

She Didn’t Make It

Baby Ruth Pontico Ringling Bros Circus Fat Lady 1941 photo AP

A Big Baby

Weighing 16 pounds at birth does not necessarily mean you will become the Fat Lady of the circus. But during a time in history when people enjoyed staring at human oddities, its better to be paid for having people gawk at you.

Ruth Smith was born on February 8, 1902 in Kempton, Indiana. At age one her weight was fifty pounds. By age ten she was 300 pounds. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #8 – Dreamland Coney Island Part 2

Coney Island’s Dreamland Amusement Park 1904-1911 – Part 2

Coney Island Dreamland general view

Coney Island- Dreamland midway on a crowded day

Continuing from part one of our postcard journey through Dreamland Amusement Park at Coney Island, we examine the other features of the park.

Coney Island Dreamland The Ballroom InteriorConey Island Dreamland Bathing Beach

At the turn of the century, dancing was possibly the most popular amusement at Coney Island, even more so than bathing at the beach. The Dreamland ballroom reflected this popularity by being the largest ballroom ever built in the United States. Continue reading