Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Circus: The Last Hurrah of Childhood

I was 12. My soon-to-be-sister-in-law was taking me and her younger sister to the circus. I had been to the circus once before, but had few memories.

This was the Shrine Circus, which came annually to New Orleans and set up in what was then the largest building for shows and exhibitions in the city – the Municipal Auditorium downtown. The auditorium continued to operate until Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when it suffered flooding and wind damage. It is currently closed, but at the time I went to the Shrine Circus, that was far into the future.

The auditorium is bounded by North Rampart Street, Basic Street, and Congo Square. In fact, it’s right across North Rampart from the French Quarter. It’s built adjacent to what used to be known as Storyville, New Orleans’ famed red light district where jazz was born. The area is now known as Faubourg Treme, but when I was 12 it was more simply “downtown” – we didn’t have “faubourgs” back then. Downtown was where you went for entertainment; all of the large movie theaters were downtown – the Saenger, the Loew’s State, the Joy, and the RKO Orpheum. In the next few years, much would be swept away in a wave of demographic and social change.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Image by Karen Arnold via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

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