Apparently when growing up my mother always wanted to run away and join the circus. I wanted to run away and follow a band, but she wanted to be part of the circus. Her brightest spot of the year was when the Ringling Brothers came to town. Once a year they took over the big sand lot outside of town. The tents would slowly rise, and the trains and buggies would come in with the crew and animals.
The kids would ride their bikes and remain a respectful distance from the set-up, gaping and staring.
My mother wasn't allowed to be out on her own, so she had to beg her older brother to go with her. Her older brother didn't share his baby sister's love of the circus so she had to promise him things (chores, her dessert, etc) in exchange. And he'd never let her stay as long as she wanted, complaining that she'd stay there all day if she could!
The smells, the sounds, the food. She loved every bit of it. It was a glimpse of a bigger world and exotic trappings. A world outside her rather dull life.
Her favorite act was the fat lady and the tight rope walkers. Way up there in the tip of the big tents, nothing below them, in their fancy and skimply little uniforms.
Her favorite food was candy apples and popcorn.
She didn't miss the circus for fiften years in a row. As she grew older, the lure held less pull as the glamour wore off, but she still loved it.
When I was about 10, one day she came home with a huge, old fashioned popcorn maker on wheels. It was red and looked like one of the ones from the circus. You had to pour in the thick, syrupy oil and let it heat in the rounded cylinder, and pour in the kernels until they popped and spilled into the dirty, oil smudged glass walls.
How good that smelled! We turned that machine on every time we'd sit as a family and watch television. It was so much better than movie popcorn.
I loved that stuff.