Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Circus Grave Yard--a final tribute

Who doesn’t have fond memories of attending the circus? My most recent trip under the Big Top was this past spring when my husband and I took our 10-year-old granddaughter, Hailey, to the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Things have certainly changed since my last visit, but it was still the same exciting atmosphere and thrilling show. Below are two pictures of Hailey with a very happy clown and riding on a camel. 

 Since the 1930s, Oklahoma has been proud to be the winter home of several traveling circuses. Hugo, OK, is still "Circus City, USA," as the town’s welcome sign proclaims. The Carson & Barnes and Kelly-Miller circuses currently call the small town home.

Hugo also boasts an Endangered Ark Foundation with the second largest herd of Asian elephants in the United States. In driveways around town, you can see circus trailers alongside pickup trucks, and maybe even a trapeze or trampoline in a few front yards. Angie's Circus City Diner with its walls covered in circus posters and memorabilia is a fun place to get lunch, should you ever be in the area. 

The spirit of the circus may be most visible in the Mount Olivet Cemetery, where the memories of these circus performers are joyfully celebrated in their final tributes. Hugo’s graveyard is the final resting place for some who spent their lives entertaining under the big top. Elephant sculptures on granite pedestals border the Showmen's Rest section of the cemetery. 

In the center is a large headstone with a carving of a performing elephant standing on two feet. Underneath it, the following is etched: "A Tribute To All Showmen Under God's Big Top." Each grave is colorfully designed to show the personality and trade of the one buried there. The cemetery is a unique and fitting tribute to circus performers. But the graves of a few other performers have found their final rest in the Hugo cemetery as well: "Three world champion rodeo cowboys, the original Marlboro Man(whom some say hasn’t died yet), and the Buster Brown midget."

Not far from the cemetery, on Kirk Road, is the actual winter home of the circuses. Circus City once hosted some fifteen different shows, and the off-season setup now is much smaller. Still, in the summer you can see various circus wagons and tractor-trailers out in the yards.

Should you happen to find yourself in the area, the Mt. Olivet Cemetery is located at the corner of Trice and 8th Streets. From town center, turn right immediately after Taco Mayo onto 8th St. Or take Rt. 70 bypass along the south edge of town and watch for Mt. Olivet Cemetery sign.

Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is an award-winning author of more than 40 published books and novellas. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and End of the Trail, which was the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel winner. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Song of the Prairie won the 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her latest series, Land Rush Dreams, focuses on the Oklahoma land runs. Vickie has recently stepped into independent publishing.

Champion bull rider Dusty Starr is at the top of his game—until a bull throws him and stomps on his leg. He goes home to heal and watch after his grandma until he can rejoin the circuit. While there are no guarantees that bull riding is in his future, his past is alive and well in the form of Gramma's beautiful physical therapist—a woman he never expected to see again. 

Physical therapist Lindsey Lang once loved Dusty, but then tragedy struck because of his younger brother's recklessness, and Dusty did something she never thought he'd do. He abandoned her, leaving her to mourn alone. Being assigned to Grandma Starr is hard enough, but with Dusty there, Lindsey's sure her heart won't survive.

Against all expectations, friendship renews, and Dusty dares to hope Lindsey will forgive him. She's the only girl he's ever loved and he aims to get her back. But friendship is one thing. A second chance at love? That will take more gumption than riding a rank bull—and then some.

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  1. Wow! That's so interesting, Vickie. I knew circus troupes went somewhere for the off-season but not where, and especially not somewhere with a cemetery highlighting the performers. How very unique. Thanks for posting this.

  2. You're welcome! I found it quite interesting.

  3. Vickie, we have visited the circus cemetery in Hugo several times. It is so interesting to read the stones and take in their uniqueness. Anyone in the area should definitely visit. Thank you for sharing.

    1. How cool was that! I haven't actually been. I really do need to go one of these days. It's only about a three-hour drive from us.