Photo of The Month – Nov 2004
Picture contributor: Hazel Haynes Bridges
Who would ever have thought? We wondered why and when these giant beasts happened to be in our town. Were they used to erect the Memorial Building? Were they part of a circus? We just had to know, so we dispatched our Senior Shelby Correspondent, Sam Davis, over to show this picture to Lula Goode Humphries, who at age 96 has a memory like a steel trap.
As Sam described it, “I handed her the elephant picture. She looked at it for a long moment—then started to grin and said, ‘I remember those rascals.’ Indeed a circus had come to Cliffside. Lula said it was there for three days. She was about five or six years old at the time (1913 or ’14) and had a hurt foot, so her mother rolled her over to the square in some type of cart to see the elephants. She was scared to death of them because she had only seen cats and dogs, nothing like an elephant. One of them reached over into the fish pond with its trunk and got a drink of water. All the kids thought that was really something.”
Lula doesn’t remember exactly where the circus performed; because of her injured foot she didn’t get to go. “The elephants were enough for me at the time,” she said. She is almost sure they were brought in on the train, for there was no other means to transport something like that back then. She didn’t know if the rest of the circus came by train or not.
She pointed out the little open shed in back of the elephants was where people voted, and observed that an unusual number of automobiles were in town that day, probably to see the circus. And what about that sand pile out in the street? Construction sand? To build what? We may never know.