Cards on the table, I’m not much of a circus lover. But I do love old technology and at some point old circuses become interesting because they represent an interesting mix of what was modern and unique about the moment they existed, at the same time calling back to a much earlier time when parents were children and experienced circuses for themselves. It’s an interesting dynamic.
There’s an interesting photo essay over at Flashbak showing the way the circus looked back in the 1950s. The article itself is from about five years ago, so it’s sort of a double flashback. It’s an amazing testament on several levels, not just it’s a historical document, but clearly some time and effort went into restoring these prints so that they could be shared digitally.
Why we’re obsessed with the past
I think most folks have an interest in the past, but it takes a different form in different people. Most of us remember our younger days. We remember when our music was played at clubs, not grocery stores. We remember the clothes, the hair, the way we felt back then. But there’s another bit of nostalgia that makes us feel differently. I’m talking about interest in the past just before we were around.
It’s surprisingly common to have a keen interest in the world just as it was before we started being aware of it. This could be the years when you were a baby, or the decade before that. I think it stems from listing to other people talk fondly of their own childhoods, and feeling like you’re missing out because you don’t remember that stuff.
For me, that’s where this photo essay falls. I don’t remember the 1950s but I sure have hung around enough people who do to feel like it was an interesting time.
Still doesn’t make me like clowns. I’m still impressed by the photo essay, though.