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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Passport to yesterday? The Trefoil Guild and exploring the "other country"

With “The Legend of Salt and Sauce” now reaching its second edition’s second anniversary, it has been a little while now since I have attended any signings. Therefore my father and I were delighted to visit the Trefoil Guild to give a one hour talk and PowerPoint presentation on our book. When we launched the first edition of the book it was in front of the Circus Friends Association. When we launched the second edition it was in front of the Wolverhampton Historical Society. Both institutions obviously had a strong interest in the subject. On other occasions we have done signings for zoo enthusiasts and historians who were either interested in the general subject of performing animals in music halls, zoos and circuses or in how the legend of these two elephants impacted on their locality. However, from time to time we get requests from societies – like the Ladies Probus Club – who booked us on the basis of the unusual quality of our subject. The Trefoil Club was this sort of booking.
It is always interesting to not only help bring people’s memories alive again – some of our audience members were into their 80s – but also to listen to their accounts of the times I only know through researching documents, books, photographs and newspaper articles. The era Salt and Sauce lived in was one that dramatically changed around the time their demise thus helping to condemn these once exceptionally well-known elephants to the “forgotten history” archives. Although none of those who attended our talk remembered these elephants - despite one contemporary author quoted in my book calling them the most famous elephants of their time - they did have very fond memories of my family’s elephants. One lady even had several photographs she had published taken in the early ‘60s of my family’s elephants being walked from the now non-existent Chipping Norton station. Despite being interested and buying plenty of copies of our book, much of the discussion and questions centred on my father’s involvement with my grandparents’ large number of elephants.