CIRCUS MEMORIES: The Bradford High circuses in 1951 and ’53 involved dozens of faculty members, hundreds of students and months of rehearsals.
Cliff Hastings of Rew, who was a clown in the 1953 production, “The Big Top Revue,” first told us about the shows, which he said were fundraisers for the Student Council’s activities fund.
He recalled that the ringmaster was Bob Johnston, who went on to become a pediatrician in Baltimore.
Another participant was Sam Sylvester, proprietor of the Option House, who played in the circus band. Cliff and Sam were both members of the class of 1954, and Sam serves as the unofficial historian of that class.
He shared with us an original program from the 1953 production that detailed the acts and every one of the students and faculty who participated. He also loaned us a 1953 Barker yearbook that devoted several pages to the circus and a copy of a Buffalo News magazine spread that chronicled the 1953 event.
Featured acts included gymnasts Fred Smith, Dick Stockton, Harry Burn, Ken Anderson, Jay Rizzutti and “Swinging Stars” Elsie Larson, Pat Murphy, Sara Nelson and Carolyn Shierer.
“The Sophisticates” were a tuxedoed-and-gowned ballroom dancing group made up of six couples including Nancy Burrell, Janet Jamison, Colleen Murphy, Barbara Nichols, Kay Thayer, Joyce Walter, Arv Hanson, Jim Nenno, Mark Thayer, Bruce Therminy, Jim Vecellio and Leonard Wilson.
“The Dancing Dudes” performed a song-and-dance soft-shoe routine in their straw hats, bow ties and white gloves. That act included Tom Brink, Jerry Carnes, Dan Cassidy, Paul Cobb, Jim Davis Larry Gardner, Al Hanson, Clain Johnson, Philip Pereschini and Jim Simmons. And the “Circusettes,” numbering more than 30, high-kicked a routine reminiscent of Radio City’s Rockettes.
There were many others who performed or worked behind the scenes. Give us a call at 362-6531 or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experiences under the big top.