The Flea Circus


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How Truth is Stranger Than Fiction:

ONE AFTERNOON I WAS LOOKING FOR A "STORY STARTER". I began by searching for songs in the public domain. "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" was a catchy tune I had enjoyed as a little girl. But I wanted to take something old and give it a twist. What about fleas? I had heard of a flea circus but I never understood what that reference was all about. So I did a quick Google Search and was BLOWN AWAY by the results . . .

 A  flea circus : "The Go-As-You-Please Race, as seen through a Magnifying Glass", from  St. Nicholas Magazine , USA, 1886

A flea circus: "The Go-As-You-Please Race, as seen through a Magnifying Glass", from St. Nicholas Magazine, USA, 1886

There was such a thing as an ACTUAL FLEA CIRCUS! . . . Seriously!!! The earliest Flea Circuses date as far back as the 1500's!!! Watchmakers would demonstrate their skills by constructing tiny harnesses out of gold wire and tying it around the neck of a flea . . . Seriously!!! The fleas would then be tethered to a variety of props and "perform" by walking or hopping around with the prop in tow. Fleas have been known to pull miniature carts or operate teensy-weensy Ferris-wheels that are spun by a running flea... SERIOUSLY!!!! 

I looked at pictures of these flea circuses for hours. I continue to be impressed by these little creatures. Yes, fleas bite, and I would NEVER invite them over to my house as dinner guests. But I would certainly cheer them on at a Flea Circus!

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Flea-Nomenal!