In today's day and age, circuses have evolved into corporate icons. A few of the old time, traveling circuses still exist but they don't carry the same weight they did a hundred years ago. Picture a landscape sprawling with colorful tents, mangy animals and people who make a living off their abnormalities... this image is slowly sliding into the annals of history
Running off to join the circus isn't what it used to be either. The big time circus has a waiting list, and often requires professional training, not only for clowns and performers but carnies as well. Long ago, a social misfit unwanted by his family could learn a trade by running away and slamming stakes into the ground to erect tents. Now they want to see your resume first.
In America, the suspicious circus has been victimized by legislation, child labor laws, animal cruelty activists and cries about common decency. A four year old boy with three eyes can no longer earn a living being stared at in a dark booth. These days he gets medical attention and psychiatric care. All in the name of social progress.
Options for parents who unwittingly reproduce and need a quick influx of cash are limited by this evolution of the circus as well. In an era gone by, they had the option of selling their baby to creepy representatives of the suspicious circus. There the baby could be kept in a box until he was old enough to understand simple commands and crawl on his own to the feeding trough. If he survived until the age of seven he would get the opportunity to clean out elephant cages and remove unsightly animal excrement from the public walkways. Surely a life worth savoring.
Ah, the romantic days of yesteryear. We always look back fondly at life in the past. The times they are a changin'. At least we have grandparents to tell us about these things. It keeps us from forgetting.