This book was planned for some thirty years as a historical novel, but I was too busy at other work to get it done. When writing was actually started, I lost control to Dick Dale; and midway I discovered I had a saga of the Golden Age of the American Circus. As a young boy, man and old man, Dick has done what he wanted regardless of what had been plotted for him. For instance, his first marriage to the girl Milly on the W. W. Cole Show was not intended by me. It just came out of the typewriter that way, but I confess I did take control and killed her off the next year in Java.
I believe that I do have a historically accurate saga of the American Circus, and one that I hope will be interesting to the average reader. I have used many circus words and terms in the text. They are identified with single quotation marks, and meanings are explained in the glossary in the back of the book. However, I have tried to make them self explanatory in the text as near as possible.
No doubt, many old time circus troupers will say that they knew Dick Dale on this show or that circus, and I can't dispute it. To me he is a composite character, partially autobiographical; and it has required much plotting to get him in on almost every major event of the seventy-five greatest years of the Circus in America.
The ending of the saga in nineteen forty was necessary, as that was the last season that any circus carried a full complement of the big baggage horses. After the 1938 strike, Ringling Brothers and Barnum Et Bailey's draft horses were all sold. As the saga ends, Cole Brothers was the only show left with the big horses; and Zack Terrel was already dickering for a tractor to replace them the next season.
Now, fellow troupers let us join Dick Dale as he follows the horse dung trail along with Barnum and Bailey, Coup and Cole, The Ringlings and The Gollmars and all the others to the end of an era.
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