Giant's-Eye View Of The Circus


Dozen Elephants Can Be Held in Hand, The Fat Lady Weighs Only An Ounce And The Midgets Are Microscopic.



In the Fantastical history of great circuses, there are monuments of deep tragedy and shocking disaster.


From the 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.


For example, 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.


Regular "people" measure 3/4 inches and the kiddies are only as long as these dashs----.


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 detail."


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.


"But sometimes 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.


"It seems 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.


"Ringling Bros. 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, June 9-11.


But the Betty and Freddie Daw Spectacular Traveling Show was not among them.


"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 there."


The Daws shouldn't worry too much-Miami Herald Miami, Fla.



By Tom Lownes of The Circus Review,

Summer Issue 1958 Vol. 4 - No. 3

Copy sold for 25 cents



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