By Saimi Rote Bergmann
Back before cars, when horsepower meant horse-powered, wagon teams sported harnesses decorated with bells. American wagoners took pride in their expensive brass bells – some even filed the bells a bit to give theirs a unique sound.
If a teamster’s wagon got mired in mud or broke down and he needed help from another wagoner, it was customary for him to relinquish his bells to the rescuer. Thus, it was a point of honor (and an excuse for a little bragging) to arrive at a destination with all your bells.
Hence the phrase, “I’ll be there with bells on.”
(Learned this nugget of cool info at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. You can see an example of the wagon bells on the harness at the far right side of the photo.)
by Mark Bergmann
It is difficult to comprehend but Edgar Decker Kirk spent more than 40 years carving this 3500 piece circus display.
According to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, he started the circus as a toy for his children and would carve during breaks from his job as a railroad brakeman in Harrisburg, PA. He completed the circus in 1956. I feel like Ripley’s believe it or not here but….. he carved this entire circus using only a penknife and a foot powered jigsaw.
This display is housed in the same building as the 500-foot long Roy Arnold circus parade. Each piece in Arnold’s display is an accurate reproduction of wagons from the Golden Age of circuses. Sorry folks, we were so amazed, we forgot to take a photo.
by Mark Bergmann
Tailgating is popular every time the pigskin flies, but don’t think tailgating is a recent development. This 1890s horse-drawn carriage was used to go watch football games at Princeton.
If I was a carriage salesman, I would tell you to notice the extra high seats, so you could look over the crowd at the game. I would walk you to the back of the carriage to show you the extra large storage for all of your favorite food and beverages. Just strap on your corn hole boards, and go tailgating!
(This turn of the century carriage is just one of many modes of transportation on display at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont.)