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June 27, 1912: On June 27, 1912 the Interurban and special trains brought thousands to Glen Hagan Park northwest of Centerville on Cooper Creek. The event had been publicized for weeks. Posters and bills were placed in store windows around the Square and in small towns across southern Iowa. People paid 50 cents at the entrance, 25 cents for those under 15. Hundreds more lined the roads to the north, to the west and to the east “without contributing anything themselves,” pointed out the Iowegian. The attraction was the arrival of Centerville’s first aeroplane. The craft was a white Curtiss box biplane. The pilot, Robert G. Fowler, sat in an open cockpit. Behind him was the engine. From its crankshaft, chains ran to two propellers mounted behind the wings, which thrust the aircraft forward. Three times — at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, 5:30 and once again in the evening — people watched the demonstrations. The pilot cranked the engine. He adjusted his goggles and climbed aboard. The plane bumped along the flat land north of Glen Hagan’s new country club. It vibrated loudly. It rose into the air. It flew over the heads of the spectators. It circled for five or 10 minutes and landed. (172)
June 28 1880s, 1890s: Twice a year a circus came to town: the Ringling Brothers; the New Great Pacific; Cook and Whitby; W.W.Cole; John Robinson; Sells; Forepaugh; and Barnum and Bailey. Two weeks before, heralding their arrival, 100 professional bill-posters, 75 “paste and brush” men, 4 managers and 4 bill-poster bosses arrived by train in 4 dormitory advertising cars. They placed posters on the Courthouse fence and on every barn, railing and billboard within a 50-mile radius of the City keeping careful records of each posting. One day before the show’s arrival, a special agent checked each one, renewing any that had been damaged during rainstorms. The shows arrived on special trains. They were unloaded with speed. People gathered to watch. Tents were erected on grounds at the south end of 17th Street, or on the Courthouse Park or in Lane Woods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, cabbages, strawberries and muskmelons were bought at the City Gardens of T. J. Greene (Bob Greene’s grandfather), and carried to cooks in kitchen tents. Circus day started with a morning parade at 10 o’clock. Hundreds lined the sidewalks along 14th Street (later renamed Drake Avenue, down 13th Street Street and around the Square. Small boys, uptown before daybreak, sat on the curbs. They watched as the parade approached, led by trumpeters, a drum corps and a circus band aboard a carriage pulled by teams of gleaming horses. (131-132)