A Pie Car Destination…………#127 (the 60’s)


Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus having arrived in Oklahoma City with performances scheduled at the Fairground Arena,  Gary was not surprised at the array of circus participant and employees assessing the two mile journey from the Fairgrounds to indulge in the room accommodations and the  provisional refreshments  at the Holiday Inn’s Pirates Cove Club.   A conversation during an intermission by the pianist according an introduction to a Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus employee.  John was the rigging supervisor for the Flying Caceres,  an Argentine trapeze coterie that was performing with the circus’ Red Tour.

Gary  discovering there were two Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus groups traversed the country by train,  the Red Tour and the Blue Tour.  The musician finding John chronicle of circus life engrossing, Gary recalling the exploits of reading Toby Tyler, first published in 1881 in his childhood,  mentioning  his plans to attend a matinée performance with his young son Scott.   The circus artisan returning with a surprising invitation,  asking if father and son would like to join him for a behind the scene tour of circus life.   Gary without hesitation confirming his acceptance, John inscribing for them to meet him at the trains  Pie Car around  ten tomorrow morning.

The late morning,  father and son finding themselves at the railroad siding adjoining the fairgrounds in search of what was designated as the Pie Car,  the appointed place of consignment to commence the tour.  Inquiring with who he presumed to be a circus employee,  Gary discovering the Pie Car was circus vernacular for dining car serving as the mobile kitchen and dining room for the performers and workers.  A staff of five  preparing meals around the clock averaging 1,000 – 1,500 meals per week and  with  over 17 countries represented on the train the chefs finding recipes from each,  preparing a main line meal from a different country at least once a week.  Gary and his son  directed to Pie Cars  berth among the sixty car rail expedition that extended over a mile when traveling.  The two boarding, seating themselves,  striking the time, beginning to have doubts as to Johns  circus allegory and then their fear was abated as he appeared.

The threesome entering the fairgrounds arena building,  beneath the seating in the catacombs,  the preparation for the afternoon matinée was commencing.   In the animal holding area John led them towards a row of elephants, their posterior side prevalent,  a worker slapping the pachyderms  voicing a indistinguishable  command so the three could walk between them.  Gary questioning about the command,  their guide nonchalantly discerning that most elephant commands were spoken in German and everyone including the performers could speak what was known as a ciazarn, a circus dialect,  a blend of six languages, a time-tested means of  communication.   Six year old,  Scott was wide-eyed walking among the menagerie of well-disciplined animals and the ongoing bustle of activity, their guide asking if the six-year-old would like to sit on them, the boy sizing up the feat but declining.  Venturing into infamous clown alley,  in reality it was a capacious dressing room, the make-up creations were in progress and an overwhelming sense of celebration was experienced, a conversing dialect  of languages and excitement, Gary reasoning,  Clowns will be Clowns

Their circus guide introduced the two visitors to the rigging pulleys and nets, their host registering that he was not part of the assemble crew,  although he was well acquainted with the task having acquired years of experience in that position, that his responsibility was to measure and ensure the proper tolerance and tension was applied to the rigging apparatus.   Gary concluding, there was a myriad  of dedication and concern to be a circus laborer or performer,  your entire existence orbited in your discipline as many of the performers were called upon for roles in other segments of the program.   The tour continuing, the guest observing a heighten sense  as the performers attention focused to detail readying their preparations for the afternoon matinée.   John finally announcing he would have to depart as it was time to ready his crew for the upcoming performance,  directing Gary and Scott to a seating section beside the Circus Band, a corded off section  reserved for guest and dignitaries, The Ring Master making his appearance, the musician realizing that The Show Must Go On.

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