CIRCUS MEMOIRS
 On the Road -
3

 

Colonel Goshen, the Arabian Giant, was a side show curiosity who amused me a great deal with the awful lies he used to tell. He said he had been in the Mexican war and was wounded and taken prisoner in one of the battles. He claimed to be a great shot, and that the Mexicans agreed to release him on condition that he would show them some of his great marksmanship. With nothing to lose and all to gain, he said, they asked him to hit the dial of the town clock about a mile away. He threw the gun to his shoulder, and with just one shot tore the hands off the clock. He used to amuse Kohl and me a great deal when we would ask him how he was feeling, by replying, "Not very well; the lead in me is very heavy today, and I feel it." So it became a by-word between Kohl and me. Often we would say, if we did not feel very well, " The lead is pretty heavy in me today."


Col. Goshen often told us that he could make a salve that would be a great thing in case of another war. That for wounds, etc., it was simply great. Amputate a soldier's leg or arm, apply some of this salve and the part was healed the next day. He said he spoke to Gen. Grant and Sherman about selling it to the government but they said we would never have another war and could not use it. Colonel always reminded me of Jack Lawton who was not careful of the truth of his statements and at times would believe his own lies. He was down at the steamship docks one day and started up town. Meeting some friends they inquired where he had been. He told them "down on the pier looking at some fishermen landing a whale". They hurriedly left him to see it. He proceeded on up town, meeting more friends and telling them about the whale. The story got ahead of him and the people began to pass him on their way down to see the whale. Crowds passing him all talking about the whale. He stopped, looked back as if in doubt, saying, "I am going back myself by -----. Maybe they have caught one".


Isaac Sprague was a skeleton. He and Kohl did not always get along very well together. Oftentimes after a little tilt between them Kohl would be giving a description of him, his ailments, etc., and right in the midst of it Sprague would speak out and say, "It is not true, the only trouble is they do not give me enough to eat."


At the time I had a museum on the Bowery he was with me and roomed on Houston Street. That was not the finest neighborhood in New York at that time. I should have said before this that Sprague was married and had a wife and three children. On arriving at the Museum one morning he told me that he had been robbed, that some one had climbed over the roof of an adjoining shed, opened the window into his room and stolen his pocket book. He knew nothing of this until he awoke in the morning, very cold and with his wife lying up close to him to keep warm. It developed that, being in the winter, and the thief leaving the window up, both of them no doubt woke up very cold; but how his wife could expect heat or warmth by lying up against him I cannot see, as it would be like lying up against a pair of iron tongs.


One night at Grand Rapids, Michigan, the weather looked very threatening. Show people have a great dread of packing up a wet tent, the rain making it so heavy to handle, as well as very muddy under foot. That night they were working very fast. Kohl picked up Sprague and leaned him up in a fence corner, while they hustled to get the tent down and packed. It was raining, with thunder and lightning, and there stood Sprague over in the fence corner, swearing and calling, but no one paid any attention to him until the tent was put away, when they took him down and put him away in the car.
Jimmy Quigley came to me one day and told me that he had a positive novelty in the way of a performance - a troop of trained chickens. That sounded good to me, so Jimmy brought them down in the morning and they gave a very interesting performance. When night came the chickens went on a strike, as we called it. They wanted to go to roost, and to roost they did go. They never would work at night. Quigley did not know this because he had been training them for months during the day time. So the chicken performers were a failure.


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