The Look, 1965

Two years after the Mills Brothers Three Ring Circus made its first appearance on the Vineyard, the company returned for an encore performance, pitching a tent at the Edgartown Golf Club. In this photo from the August 3, 1965 Vineyard Gazette, Miss Massachusetts Mabel Bendiksen rides atop Miss Burma, a world-famous elephant who marched in Eisenhower’s inaugural parade. To celebrate the start of the circus, the Misses, plus a coterie of horses, camels, and llamas, wended their way down Main Street in Edgartown toward Memorial Wharf, where a band played and Miss Burma put on a show.

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It was a simpler time, long before smart phones, when people actually watched an elephant make its way down the street. As for the fashion, we can’t help but notice there was hardly a T-shirt in sight. And none with garish logos. And while the photo is in black and white, it’s likely there weren’t any pastel pants. Instead, there were Keds aplenty (which are back in style), mid-calf socks (which are not), high-water pants (also back), and cat’s-eye glasses (still stylish, depending on how retro-chic you are). Almost every kid wore a collared shirt. But not Sam Fleming, who appears in the foreground of the photo steering a bicycle in a collarless polo. “I thought the shirt was sort of cool at the time but was still a bit jealous of my cousin’s ‘Alligator’ polo shirts, which seemed way cooler,” he said.

No need to worry, Sam. It was a great look for the time, and still is – even if it doesn’t hold a candle to the circus kid’s gypsy ensemble.