Of The Circus
Can Be Held in Hand, The Fat Lady Weighs Only An Ounce And
The Midgets Are Microscopic.
Fantastical history of great circuses, there are monuments
of deep tragedy and shocking disaster.
three-ring Betty and Freddie Daw Spectacular Traveling Show,
there was the black day two years ago when Emmett Kelly,
their best clown was kidnapped.
As tragedies go
it could have been worse.
someone could have stepped on the big top.
One size 10B
shoe planted firmly on the Daw's main tent could crush
hundreds of spectators and scores of animals.
This because the
Daw Spectacular Traveling Show - big top, menagerie tent,
sideshow, dressing-room tents, horse tent, cook tent machine
shop, musicians' Tent 13 train cars, 50 wagons and trucks,
more that 100 animals, and workers - occupies only a
four-foot by six-foot area.
One of the
littlest big shows in the world, its precisely detailed
models are scaled to 1/8 inch to one foot.
This means that
their sideshow giant is only one inch tall.
measure 3/4 inches and the kiddies are only as long as these
If one of the
Daw's daring young men n the flying trapeze happened to
fall, he would only tumble four inches (the high wire men
work without protection of nets).
The entire show
is animated. Thin motors are used to revolve the three
rings, the sideshow stage and spec parade track which moves
slowly around the hippodrome.
Betty and Fred
Daw of 28 Majorca Ave, Coral Gables, are the sole creators,
owners, managers, trainers and business agents for the
Spectacular Traveling Show.
Since they got
on the circus kick five years ago after wearying of model
trains, they have put more than 5,000 hours into building
three complete shows and they're now working on a smaller
and better fourth.
"There are more
than a thousand model circuses in the country and many more
in Europe," says Daw as evidence that you don't have to be
crazy to build a little big top.
"Of course, most
of them are in 1/4 inch scale-twice as large as ours. When
they get that big you have pay a lot more attention to
One look at the
Daw's show and you wonder if anything could be more
detailed. You can practically see the model fleas on
the model circus dogs.
THE DAWS don't
even try to put a "money value" on their priceless display.
Most of its 5,000 pieces, they say, are mode of scrap.
we have to cheat-you can't build a circus without a little
cheating," says Daw. By "Cheating" he means
occasionally buying a scale piece in a dime store.
"But such lucky
finds are few and far between."
The Daws, who
have no children, get their greatest pleasure from showing
their circus to children.
strange," says Daw, "but children are much better than
adults about not handling the pieces."
Daw is certain
that it was an adult that "kidnapped" their favorite clown-a
replica of Emmett Kelly-during a public display of their
show two years ago.
"It broke our
heart, Betty had worked on hi for two solid weeks and she
has never felt like trying it again."
THE DAWS CIRCUS
is not patented after any full-size show.
have played a lot of dirty tricks on model builders lately,"
said Daw, "Every time the modelers get their show to match
Ringling, John North goes ahead and revamps his
production-it's very discouraging."
The Dews, who
both work for Deerborne School in Coral Gables, take their
model circusing seriously:
They are members
of the National Circus Model Builders and Owners Assoc.
Circus Fans of America (of which Daw is state chairman), the
Winifred Colleano Tent (Miami club), and the John Mable
Ringling Top (Florida club.)
And the Circus
Model Builders and Owners take themselves seriously too:
there were more than 100 tiny shows on display this year
when the NCMBOA held its three-day convention in Dover Ohio,
But the Betty
and Freddie Daw Spectacular Traveling Show was not among
"This is the
first year that we are attending the convention", explains
Daw. "We know we have a pretty good show but we wanted
to see what the competition is like before we take ours up
shouldn't worry too much-Miami Herald Miami, Fla.
Lownes of The Circus Review,
Issue 1958 Vol. 4 - No. 3
for 25 cents