In going up the coast of
Australia the natives would pull out into the ocean
in little log dug-outs, come as near to the ship as
they felt was safe, and cry out to us to throw them
tobacco. The captain always threw them food, such as
a leg of mutton or meat of some sort, but they never
seemed to care for anything except tobacco.
It was very interesting to see them throw the
boomerang. I left that country under the impression
that they were the only people who could do it, but
I have since seen people employed by me stand on the
stage, throw them over the audience and have them
return to them with more precision than shown by the
We get our eucalyptus tree, which is so plentiful in
California, from Australia. It is surely a great
asset to that country, as it is a fast grower, a
hard wood, and of many varieties. The tree sheds its
bark instead of its leaves.
While there are many birds with beautiful plumage in
Australia, there are very few, if any, song birds.
While in Australia I never heard of or saw a snake.
We found Van Deeman's Land, now called Tasmania, a
very fine island. Its name was changed in order to
lose its former identity as a penal colony.
New Zealand is a very beautiful land. It has
beautiful harbors and attractive cities, with a fine
When in Lima, Peru, on Sunday afternoon Mr. Bailey
and I attended the bull fight, never having attended
one. After the matador had killed several I remarked
to Bailey that I would like to see the bull get the
best of it one time and I had scarcely finished
saying the words until the bull had the people's
idol down on the ground horning him in good shape.
The audience in turn applauded the bull.
We chartered a sailing ship named the "Golden Sea"
and sailed from Auckland, New Zealand, to Peru,
South America, and were for fifty-four days out of
sight of land. We were surely glad when we reached
After being out for about a week on this voyage, the
elephant, which I have already mentioned, ate a box
of sulphur matches which one of the men had left
carelessly near him, and died the next day. We threw
the carcass overboard. We learned afterwards that
the tides carried it back to Auckland, where the
people concluded that we had been shipwrecked. We
certainly experienced some very severe weather. We
were in one storm in which fourteen ships were lost
along the coast, but, luckily, we pulled through.
I remember we had a couple of sea lions on board,
and after our fish were consumed we had nothing to
feed them. We thought they would only eat fresh
fish, but soon found that by running the thread off
of a linen spool, which was used to sew on spangles,
and letting that fly from the rear of the ship for a
couple of hundred yards, the gulls and Cape pigeons
and albatross would get tangled up in it, when we
would pull them on board and feed them to the sea
lions. As the birds had a fishy flavor the sea lions
would eat them, and by this means we kept the sea
lions alive until we reached port.
The hotels in South America seemed very strange to
us. Of course, on account of giving night
performances, we were always late in returning to
the hotel. We found that the doors opened outward.
The hotels were generally located on the second
floor, with large steps leading up to them. The
porter would sleep at the head of the stairs in a
cot, with a strong cord, one end of which was
attached to the door knob and the other end to his
big toe. Upon any one opening the door the cord
pulling on his toe would awaken him.
I have spoken of James Robinson being a great rider
in his day, but I must not lose sight of the fact
that no man can be a grand rider without a grand
horse. Then, when he has a grand horse, he must also
have a person who understands it, to follow the
horse around with a whip in his hand, "Keeping the
horse up ", as it is termed. He must start with the
right foot first, as the rider cannot ride him if he
is running what is termed "False". Often it is
necessary to put rosin on the back of the horse,
which sometimes makes the horse's back sore.
Naturally, when the rider attempts to throw a
summersault, or do some other trick, the horse
flinches, which tends to throw the rider off.
I have nothing but good words for circus people.
They are kind hearted and always willing to aid each
other when in distress or trouble. It is surprising
how little drinking is done in the circus.
It is strange how easily a person can get into
extravagant habits. I have seen some of the
performers go along with the show, earning, I will
say to illustrate, one hundred dollars per week, and
with no one to provide for, and I have seen those
same people go to a man who was earning, perhaps,
only forty dollars a month, and borrow money from
him; then stay in his debt the whole season.
It is strange how men's lines fall. In the army I
was where the military bands and bugles and fifes
were always playing. From the army I went into the
circus business, where we were always with music.
Then I got into a line of business where the
principal thing was to make people laugh, to
entertain them and amuse them, as well as to
instruct them. I don't feel that I ever got a dollar
by making people feel badly, and as I look back now,
I am much pleased to know it. Sometimes, perhaps,
they may not have thought they had the worth of
their money, but I think that was because we are all
of different minds.
Sometimes we would do things and say things which
would make us laugh among ourselves. I remember one
time when Kohl and I, and a man by the name of
Morton, talked of leasing the Columbia Theatre in
Chicago. Morton was managing it at that time with
other parties. We began figuring up what the
probable expense would be to run it. The three of us
agreed along pretty well until we reached the
treasurer, who was to be in the box office. Morton
told us that a man to fill that position should get
a salary of about thirty-five or fifty dollars per
week. We didn't think it was worth so much. Morton
then began to tell us about the way a man would have
to dress; how it would be necessary for him to have
a full dress suit, etc., so as to make a nice
appearance in the box office. Kohl, in a half joking
way and half in earnest, replied that it would not
be necessary for the man to have a full dress suit;
that, standing up there with his breast to the
window, it would only be necessary for him to wear
one of those fronts they put on a corpse. I thought
Morton would drop dead, and when Kohl and I were
alone I think we laughed for full ten minutes at
Morton's appearance when he heard Kohl's remark.