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The Allis vs. the Elephant

Back in about 1954, when I was 5 or 6 years old, a circus came to my hometown in NE Mississippi. This was the original style of traveling circus with the big top, the elephants helping set it up, the real 'Norman Rockwell'. At that time we had an Allis-Chalmers dealer in our small town, and, evidently, he was looking for a way to stimulate business. When the time for the nightly three-ring show came around, the circus workers brought out a huge elephant with a harness trailing along behind him. From the other side of the arena emerged a brand-new bright orange Allis Chalmers D-14. (Animal rights activists may want to avert their eyes at this point.)

They proceeded to hitch the harness on the elephant to the drawbar of the Allis for a collossal tug of war! At a signal, the driver of the tractor gave it all she had, smoke from the exhaust billowing into the circus tent. The handler of the elephant began to goad his beast forward. The pachyderm was trumpeting to beat the band! After about three minutes of this bedlam, the D-14 had dug itself down to the axles and was just spinning the wheels. The elephant had never moved from where they were initially connected. In fact, it appeared to me that the handler was actually holding the animal back to keep it from dragging the tractor over half the county! I say it appeared that way because the tent was so full of smoke at this point that you couldn't see much of anything! And our ears were deaf from the noise!

This sounds so cruel and inhumane in this day and time, but I really don't think it harmed the elephant all that much. I wish the handler had let him go - it would have been cool to see just how far he could have dragged the Allis! At probably five tons with four 'wheel' drive against maybe 3000 pounds, I definitely think he had the advantage!

Paul Armstrong, MS, entered 2005-08-17
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