By Angel Nuñez
Circuses are very scarce in coming to town and so it was many years ago in San Pedro but in the 1950’s the village of San Pedro had the distinct pleasure of a visit of a circus. You guessed right! The excitement mounted that day from the time the boat arrived to the final minutes when the grand show was to commence.
For all of the children and even most of the people, it was the first time we even heard of the word “circus”. We noticed a huge tent being set up in the backyard of Mr. Nando Trejo which is the present day the corner of Pescador Drive and Pelican Street. We had never seen such a huge tent and we kept wondering what in the world was going to happen there. Someone had commented that there was a man who would eat a snake and that stirred up quite a thrill.
Early in the afternoon this man dressed as a clown went all around the village with a cone shaped object like a funnel shouting out aloud that the show would commence at 7 p.m. and that all were invited. It would only cost 25 cents for children and 50 cents for adults. He shouted in Spanish, “Come one come all to the Saca Trapos Circus where a magician will thrill the crowd and Saca Trapos will make everyone laugh until you cry.” He was so funny that it sent the children running home to ask for permission to go to the show and most important to beg for a shilling (25 cents).
It was required that if you wanted to sit down, you had to purchase your ticket and take your chair or stool so that it would be placed around the ring. Practically everyone of the fifty families or so took their chairs for mom and dad and the children were told that they would stand up because that way they could move about and get a good viewing spot. That was cool! Man, you should have seen people shining up their best varnished chairs or cleaning off the cobwebs from their kitchen chairs. Soon the circus ring looked like a luxurious furniture gallery of myriad styles of furniture.
At 7 p.m. the circus was full to capacity. Every woman was wearing something on her feet. The men, however, were stubborn. They did not care of shoes, or better yet did not own one yet. The show commenced with Saca Trapos the clown opening up a huge chest and pulling up items of clothing to what seemed like an endless activity and with every item pulled out, there were shouts and applause and laughter. There were huge underwear, panties without elastic, bras with one tiny cup and one extra large. There was extra laughter when he pulled out a bra with 3 cups and even louder laughter with the actions he did with them. Indeed everyone was laughing until there were tears.
Then a man dressed in black and red came to the middle of the ring and did all kinds of tricks with cards, cigarettes and coins. He smoked a cigarette and crushed it then pulled it out of a guy’s ears. He pulled out a pigeon out of a hat. He did many tricks with a deck of cards and everyone was going “ahh, uuhh, wowww,” and then an outburst of laughter when he pulled a chicken egg from between the legs of an elderly man.
THE END OF THE SHOW: Saca Trapos the Clown then came out claiming that he could outdo the magician. He asked the crowd and everyone hollered, “Yessssss”! He brought out a small box claiming that he had fifty snakes from all over the world in that box including the most poisonous snakes from Africa and China. I don’t know if the word snake or China or Africa had the effect of sending thrills down our bodies. Everyone was tense. The first snake he put it around his neck and everyone thought it was cool. But then he attempted to put it around the neck of Mrs. Pilar and she pushed him. She picked up her chair and left the arena cussing the hell out of Saca Trapos.
Everyone laughed and Saca Trapos then announced that he would release the 50 poisonous snakes into the crowd. Men you should have seen the women picking up their chairs and following Mrs. Pilar. Then the men walked out following their wives and the children right behind or under them. And that was the end of the circus performance in the sleeping village of San Pedro twenty five years ago.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
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