A Departing Craft………………………#163 (80’s)

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 seating arrayed the 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 mixing with an air of sawdust and the odor originating from the animal husbandry.   A hushed silence,  then the Ringmaster with top hat and microphone, the resonance sound of a shrill whistle commencing the program,  the hushed silence coming to life with the Calliope music and a long standing circus presentation.

      

A parade introduction, commencing with the elephant’s and a very noticeable lady mounted on the world’s largest living land animal,   followed by an equestrian array of prancing regimented  horse’s,  and a disposition of pony’s, interacting with performing dog’s.  the parade continuing it’s march around the center ring, a circus automobile complete with bevy of clowns making an appearance, concluding with a scantily clad lady of the trapeze.  The Show was Inaugurated.

 

Gary somewhat familiar with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus in Oklahoma City, having been privileged to a guided backstage tour with his son Scott, having meant the rigging supervisor for the Flying Caceres, an Argentine trapeze coterie a, while playing piano with Jan Lawhon at the Pirate’s Cove Club.  He 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 performing very apparent.   Robert and Sandi, awed by the enlighten performance’s,  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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