AMERICAN SCENE: The Circus: Escaping into the Past

A three-ring sawdust devotee since he was a child, TIME Correspondent James Wilde visited the traveling Circus Vargas when it stopped in Burbank, Calif. His report:

It was "cherry pie" time—circus lingo for an emergency. The trucks carrying the big tent had broken down, and by the time they rolled into downtown Burbank, only five hours remained before show time. Members of all 22 acts ran to help out: clowns, barkers, aerialists, animal trainers, tightrope walkers, acrobats, and Colonel Wallace Ross and his elephants ("ninety-thousand pounds of pachyderms"). Local kids were...

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