A Departing Craft………………………#163 (80’s)

The Ford Brothers Circus (small in number but colossal in entertainment

Gary was position behind the parts counter at Kiowa Service when the person approached and asked if he could place a poster in the window.   Across the street,  the Bank of Kiowa deployed a similar broadcast,  a survey of the town,  the Daylight Donut Shop,  Randy’s Corner Drug, Gambles,  Paxton’s Drug Store,  the Ranch House restaurant,  all exclaimed the same proclamation and when the Kiowa News presented a quarter page ad,  the announcement was communicated to all,  the Ford Brothers Circus was coming to Kiowa.  An excitement inhibited the township,  a performing large tent extravaganza,  small but nation-wide traveling circus would acquaint the auspicious diminished Barber County Community.   A caravan of trucks converged on the old unkempt abandoned Kiowa High School track and football field south of town.   A subliminal message expounded for persons interested in helping with the capacious tent the assembly, the Ford Brothers Circus,  a remnant of a past era,  one of the few remaining small traveling hippodromes.



The day of performance having arrived,  Gary,  Jan,  Robert,  Sandi and the Murrow’s  journeying to the large tent exposition,  a bountiful crowd filling the canvas shelter to capacity.  Scaffold wooden benches for seating arrayed the exterior ramparts of the single center ring,  with trapeze rigging adorning the scaling heights of the canopy covering.   An expectation,  an aura of anticipation could be sensed, the multitude filling the expanse of the arena,  the aroma of popcorn from the circulating venders mixing with an air of sawdust and the smell originating from the animal husbandry A hushed silence,  then the Ringmaster in the traditional black fitted coat with top hat, the resonance of a shrill whistle commenced the program,  the hushed silence coming to life with the recorded Calliope music and a long stand circus presentation.  A parade introduction of mounted  elephant’s, horse’s and a disposition of pony’s, followed by performing dogs,  a circus automobile with exclaiming clowns and a scantily clad lady of the trapeze,  the show was inaugurated.


Gary having been acquainted with a circus, having been privileged to have  a backstage tour of Ringling Brothers,  Barnum and Bailey in Oklahoma City with his son Scott over a decade ago,  found the Ford Brother Circus unique, realizing it was the essence of a dying profession and like the era of vaudeville,  it would soon disappear never to return, but would remain a hallmark in the memory of many.   He discerned the duplicate roles of each performer,  the same individuals appearing in multiple presentations, their love of the performing very apparent.   Robert and Sandi, awed by the enlighten performance,  the bareback riding,  the agility of the performing dogs,  the skill requirements of the trapeze and the antics of the clowns,  an appreciative approval by all in attendance.


The conclusion found a PA announcement for volunteers to help with the disassembly and promoting that an outside animal ride enterprise would be available for those of the younger generation.  Exiting towards the ride  concession, finding an elephant and pony rides.  Gary questioned Robert,  asking him if he wanted to mount the pachyderm, to his surprise  Robert wanted no part of being seated on an elephant,  the Father  persisted,  but no amount of coaxing would coerce the young man into addressing the trunk-laden animal.   Then a voice,  “Daddy, I want to ride the elephant”,  it was Sandi without hesitation stepping forward.  Once being helped aboard  the large ear endowed pachyderm,  a proud wide grin of satisfaction and accomplishment adorning the youngest and most likely the bravest Willson.

Gary concluding  the Kiowa presentation  of the Ford Brothers Circus was a lasting accomplishment for a deserving community and the Kiowa appreciative reception an abiding compliment to a departing craft.

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