When Uncle Will drove up to get me, I noticed the many wild animals he had which he trained for his so-called medicine show. Also with him was a girl from Germany, who was the child of his dear widow friend, and she was an acrobat, having learned those skills in German schools.
She was to perform a routine and she would receive money that Uncle banked for her college education. She was nice to me, but spoke little English. She did cook and it was all German food, which I considered the world’s best.
She was a draw, in the language of the times... and she would draw some of the thousands of old German settlers to watch her on the trapeze.
... The country we entered was vast, without trees and there were mesas which are like a butte only much bigger. There were small spires, windblown, known as pinnacles. It was so hard to describe such a country.
Many towns or villages were German or Norwegian and all spoke their native tongue.
I did watch the animals and Uncle Will said he would catch me a prairie dog. One thing I would never understand is how does a prairie dog and a rattlesnake and a small owl occupy the same hole?
Uncle Will had shown me how to care for and feed his animals as he went to town to get food and supplies. He had shown me a few tricks on his horse he named Captain Dan after a cavalry officer in the Indian Wars.
The girl’s name was Anne and when she finished up her act she would always cook up the huge German meals, which were Uncle Will’s favorite and soon to be mine. They were all German sounding and when we finished up at night Anne would bring out her Russian stringed instrument and she would sing old German beer drinking songs and I knew some were sort of nasty because the old men in the audience would laugh and carry on in such strange ways.
Sometimes I would go to town with Uncle Will and no matter how big or little the town, Uncle Will always knew so many people.
He once traveled with a big wild animal circus back East and they say it gets in the blood. He even handled sideshows and once he told me that he could stand on any street corner in America and he could pick up enough strange people to open his own show and make plenty of money.
One morning a good sized circus set up next to us and not far from town. Uncle Will told me that I should not hang around when they set up the “big top.” I soon found out why. The boss canvasman was of the old school that said that any big sheet of canvas or sail cannot be stretched unless a lot of swearing and cursing is used and I never heard the like of such foul language as I did that morning.
In fact, Billy Sunday, that old-time ball player who once played baseball in Marysville, had become a great revival preacher and as such had come into using an old big top and it was a known fact that when he set up canvas he would have to be taken off the lot for his loud cussing could be heard by one and all.
Now, whenever I think of the most wonderful and enchanting moments of life, I think of those days of Uncle Will’s medicine show and the animals that were part of it all.
It was a great ride.