Hobby Bandwagon, Vol. 2, No. 10 (Nov), 1947. Note: Only some articles are included in this online edition. Illustrations are not included.
Show reviewed at New London, Conn., July 4, 1947, and at Farmington, Mass., July 23.
This fine show came into New England and played many stands in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The show has been greatly enlarged since the 1946 season and is now without a shadow of a doubt, “The World’s Greatest Motorized Circus.” In fact it compares in size with the Andrew Downie’s or Downie Bros. Circus as run by Charlie Sparks in 1936-37 and with the Ray Rogers, Wallace Bros. Circuses of 1944. As both the Downie and Wallace shows for the seasons mentioned were the largest truck shows in th world. King Bros. is larger, has a stronger program and more equipment than any truck circus on the road today.
The Circus is again operated by Harold Rumbaugh and Floyd King and they have greatly improved the show since 1946.
The Big Top is a 110-foot round top with 3-forty foot middles. It is greenish-khaki in color and uses 4 centr poles, 24 quarter poles and 76 side poles. Reserved seats of regular circus type are ten high and the blues or general admission seats are twelve high. Three rings are used.
The menagerie at both stands which I caught the show, was corraled or sidewalled and contained 4 bulls, Mona, Susie and Mary of last season and a new baby bull called Margie. Another baby bull died during the early season. Also were the following led stock: 2 camels, 1 llama, 1 donkey, 5 ponies, 8 horses, 1 sacred cow, 2 audad or barbary sheep. There were also the following cages: Cage truck 24 - 1 lion and 2 bears; cage truck (un-numbered) - 1 zebra and 1 brindled gnu; cage truck (un-numbered) - 1 deer and 9 monkeys.
The kid show or side show top was a 60-ft. round top with 2-thirty foot middles and had the usual display of freaks and a colored minstrel, also a cage truck with one fighting cat in a cage which Frank Phillips, old Sparks cat man, entered and fought the lion during each and every side show performance.
The was also an animal exhibition show on the midway, using a 30-foot top with 2-20's. The cook house was under a 50x20 foot top and was one of the finest on the road this season, and Chef Napoleon Read, old time colored circus cook, really puts out some swell meals. A 20x30 ft. dressing top and a 20x20 ft. band top completes the list of tents.
All the show-owned straight bed truck and semi-trailers are painted a bright yellow with the title King Bros. Circus painted in bright red with black trim. The lettering was done by A. Lee Hinckley, the big show bandmaster, and he did a beautiful job.
The show semis- or trucks with trailers as follows: No. 20 Side show canvas, poles and props; No. 30 Grandstand supports and bible-backs; No. 40 Stringers and jacks; No. 50 stringers and jacks; No. 60 pole truck; No. 93 grandstand chairs; No. 101 grandstand chairs; No. 38 Concession dept.; props and wardrobe; No. 8 led stock and baby bull; No. 12 horses and ponies; No. 47 three bulls; No. 6 big top canvas; No. 7 big show band sleeper; No. 9 Colored workmen sleeper; No. 11 White workmen sleeper; No. 27 staff and performers sleeper; No. 29 cookhouse truck; No. 44 light plant truck; . . . a total of 19 show-owned semis.
The show-owned straight trucks were as follows: No. 1 service truck; No. 10 fire truck; No. 4 stake and chain truck with canvas loading derrick; No. 24 cage truck carrying 1 lion and 2 bears; cage truck carrying 1 deer and 9 monkeys; cage truck carrying 1 zebra and 1 gnu; sideshow cage carrying fighting lion; No. 33 sideshow performers sleeper; Dodge panel truck carrying 2 wheel stake driver; tractor water wagon and stake puller, hauling 4 wheel ticket wagons; horse truck; wild life exhibit; props, air calliope and band truck; 2 wheel sleeper trailer . . . a total of 21 vehicles.
Private owned vehicles included 2 private concession trucks, Don McClelland’s horse truck, De Riskies house car, 26 private cars each hauling a house trailer.
Making a total of 70 vehicles if each private auto and trailer is counted as one, but if counted as two, it would make a total of 96 vehicles on the show.
Lee Hinckley has a swell 9-piece band accompanied by the air calliope, this band plays a half-hour concert before the program of real circus music instead of the modern jazz played by some of the circus bands of today. The show has a steam calliope mounted on a truck played by E. Deacon Albright, famous old time circus calliope player. This calliope was once owned by Crazy Ray Choisser, who played this calliope on the “Water Belle,” a Mississippi river excursion boat.
The program is very strong and is reviewed as follows:
1. The “spec” entitled “La Fiesta” with all the performing personnel, 4 bulls, 8 horses, 5 ponies and all led stock. A well costumed and interesting spec.
2 Single pony with monkey rider, L. D. Hall; troupe of 7 educated dogs, Albert Powell, trainer; single pony with monkey rider, Matt Lawrish.
3. The Great Guice Troupe, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Guice in a fine trampoline and triple horizontal bar act.
4. A 7-piece clown band in their “Murdering of Music,” finishing with water throwing gag.
5. Aerial swinging ladders; Francine Deriskie, Flo McIntosh and Sylvia Gregory.
6. Shetland ponies in liberty drill worked by Matt Lawrish.
7. The Deriskie Trio. Father and two young ladies in a great juggling act.
8. Clown walkaround. 9. Iron Claw Act. Sylvia Gregory.
10. Single bull act, featuring “Susie,” about the best single bull act in the country, worked by Matt Lawrish.
11. Clowns. Featuring Bozo Ward as Dentist in the Toothache gag.
12. Slack wire act: Lucy Derizkie; tight wire act: McIntosh trio; tight wire: Powell trio.
13. Again the crazy clowns.
14. Deriskie Family. Father, mother, two young ladies, a very small boy and two very small girls in a real acrobatic display of risley and hand and head balancing.
15. Cosetta & Chita Christiani in a fine bareback act which they do some really difficult feats on a single rosinback.
16. Clown prize fight.
17. 3 bulls, in a nice fast act worked by Flo McIntosh and assisted by Matt Lawrish.
18. Francine Derizkie in a great head balancing act on swinging trap, also on the revolving traps.
19. Clown walkaround.
20. 3 high school horses worked and ridden by Matt Lawrish, Betty Miller and Flo McIntosh.
21. Teeterboard Acrobats. The Five Christianis in a swell act.
22. The Three Christiani men in somersaulting leaps from the high springboard to the tick. For finale one man does a complete somersault over the three bulls.
All out and over.
Gil Conlinn, CFA secretary, did a nice clowning act at New London, Conn.
Don and Hope McLennan and company of four feature the Wild West concert as well as a wrestler.
All in all, it is a swell show. If they would add a Liberty horse act, two or three more cages, a cat act of five lions and a trained seal act it would equal anything that Charlie Sparks and Andrew Downie sent out under the Downie Bros. title.
. . . Kokomo Anders is legal adjuster and Deacon Albright works the reserved seat section when not playing the calliope.
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Last modified November 2005.
without written permission of the author and the Circus Historical Society, Inc.
Last modified November 2005.