The Greatest Show On Earth!

2.04.2011

POSTED IN CABINET OF CURIOSITIES

The Greatest Show On Earth
Or At The Very Least
in Our Own Neighbourhoods!!

April 7th 2011, marks the 110th anniversary of the death of one of America’s greatest showman –

P. T. Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891).

Compare Barnum‘s show to a Halloween Haunt

Probably most famous for his “Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome” and then later the “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus”.

But before these landmark shows, he first opened the, sometimes morbid, American Museum situated on Broadway in New York city.

He used this museum to promote and celebrate great spectacles, human curiosities and even hoaxes. The crowds came to be entertained and have their morbid, and in some cases macabre, curiosities satisfied.

But other than possibly being an interesting read, “What does P.T. Barnum have to do with haunting and home haunters?”

On Halloween Night lots of pro and home haunts favour themes such as “Carnival of Lost Souls” or “Mayhem of Mad Circus Freaks” and a myriad of other creepy clowned haunted stylings of the imagination. And why not?

There are plenty of parallels with Barnum’s delight in raising grand spectacle to a high art form and the home haunter going to all but super natural lengths to put on the coolest, scariest Halloween haunts.

Barnum gave the people elaborate dioramas of extra ordinary things while we home haunters create spooky and haunted displays in much the same manner.

At the museum, patrons enjoyed melodramas such as “The Fallen Saved“, Haunts often write scary back stories and have actors play out haunted scenes interacting with their guests.

Another main stay attraction included a menagerie of rare animals while the Halloween fan offers vampires, witches, werewolves and a menagerie of other creatures of the night in our haunted attractions.

Today, haunts have all manner of scary animatronic props that scare and amazed horror fans while in his day, the showman had automatons! Creepy monkey fish prop idea could be reproduced in a Halloween home Haunt Wonderful, almost magically endowed, mechanical devices that could mimic life.

These intricate machines were meticulously crafted with haunting detail from wood, metal and most importantly watch parts by only the most highly skilled watchmakers.

Also by comparison, one of P.T.’s most famous hoaxes, “The Feejee Mermaid” was little more than, something that could easily be consider, a Halloween prop! A mummified monkey’s head complete with torso attached to a fish’s tail.

Another interest he shared with some of today’s home & pro haunters, was how to make money off the attractions he promoted. He even wrote a book about it in 1855 titled, “The Art of Money Getting“.

As a final testament that Barnum sometimes morbid personality was relatable to today’s Halloween and horror fans Cemetery where Barnum‘s bones rest– sensing that his end ‘twas nigh and because he wanted to read his obituary before he died, he granted the Evening Sun permission to print it while he was still alive.

A few weeks later, on April 7, 1891 he died in his sleep. Phineas Taylor Barnum is buried in the cemetery he designed, the Mount Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In his autobiography, “Struggles and Triumphs“ – he said, “To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and ringing laughter. That I have had power to provide innocent amusement for the little ones, to create such pictures, to evoke such music, is my proudest reflection.”

Our sentiment is not quite so profound, but we do enjoy the picture of spooked, wide-eyed children and the music of their clear shrieking screams! To have provided this innocent amusement for the little trick or treaters are some of our fondest reflections of Halloween home haunting.

See More From Screaming Scarecrow’s Cabinet of Curiousities.
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Happy Haunting!
Cheers Screaming Scarecrow.

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