- Jan 24, 2017
I don't know what brought me back to the beginning pages of Brook D. Simpson's book on Grant - Triumph Over Adversity - but recently I read passages from these pages again and found what may be a little known curiosity about Grant. Around the same time I also discovered a documentary program on the history of the circus in America which only added to my intrigue.
"Just as Ulysses neared his second birthday, a small circus came to town. The toddler, adorned in petticoats, was fascinated by a trained pony; when the ringmaster invited members of the audience to ride the animal, Ulysses begged and implored his father until he got his way. Lifted onto the horse's back and held in place by an adult, he circled the ring several times, "manifesting more glee than he had ever shown before."
That was Ulysses initial experience and exposure to the circus. It wasn't to be his last.
"Ulysses was eleven when another circus visited Georgetown. Once more the ringmaster brought out a trained pony; once more Ulysses mounted it. This time, however, the ringmaster barked orders for the pony to throw its rider while galloping at full speed around the ring. Ulysses simply dug in his heels. Undeterred, the ringmaster brought out a monkey: it scrambled on board, grabbed Ulysses by the hair, and stared down at the boy's face. People laughed, then they grew astonished when they saw that Ulysses stayed on. There was no quit in this boy. In a similar episode young Grant earned five dollars for hanging on to a particularly slick mount."
These are fascinating stories to me. I don't know why I love them so much. Maybe because they are little known peculiarities belonging to a well known personage. But I didn't know Grant's equestrian antics also extended to the circus. And even here he shows his incredible tenacity while yet a child.
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