Sunday, June 20, 2010

Days with the Circus

This is a picture of my grandmother, Winona Fowler.  She's dressed for her day as a part of her father's 3 ringed circus, and yes, that is a whip in her hand.  She and her family traveled with a group of buckskin clad American Indians, all types animals, and many performers including aerialists.  From alligators to the big cats there really was a true menagerie of creeping crawling wildlife.

Over the years my grandmother told her many stories of her life as, "Baby Nona," which because I was so young were gone quickly along with so much of my childhood memories.  Thankfully I have some stories as do each of my cousins and we have begun to share those to put together.  Through the retelling of our stories and the pictures of her, her family and the circus that have surfaced since she died we are getting a wonderful picture of her early life.

My own memories of being touched by that long ago circus can be told through those velvety soft buckskin outfits that were in her upstairs closet when we were little.  A cousin and I would spend long hours imaging a circus life as we touched first and then wore those native American outfits in that attic closet.  We even got to wear them sometimes for Halloween which was a real treat as well as one of the most exciting thing for each of us.  When we wore the buckskins we could almost reach out though the time warp and touch a life we could only imagine.

We never realized the gifts she gave us as children at the time.  Those little tidbits of a her circus life were like fairy stories compared to our 1960s lives in suburbia.

Today I truly cherish the glimpses of those almost still life images from her very real past.  I wish there were enough stories to build a book with, but I have to admit that even though they are scant in number they hold a large part of my imaginary life as a child.


  1. That's so exciting. I loved it that my grandmother smoked cigarettes and wore outrageous hats. I would have "died and gone to heaven" if she had been in the circus in her early days.

    I hope you and your cousins do manage to get it all down.

  2. Thanks, Chris! It took us so long to realize each of us had a different story to share with each other since we're from all over the country and don't see each other very often. The whole thing has turned into quite the mystery!

  3. What an interesting life your grandmother led! When I was a kid, I loved reading circus stories. I guess, I am going to enjoy reading them even now :)

  4. That is a good story. Those were the days, when the circus was the entertainment ... not video games, or TV. We do live humdrum lives in many ways compared to our ancestors. We've got it easier, but sometimes we are less than grateful. Does convenience bread contempt?

  5. Robert,
    We have lost a lot with all our need of convenience. And honestly, the wonder has gone as well.

  6. You took me back to the old days of American culture and how I really love it. I got inspired after reading The Catch Trap my Marion Zimmer-Bradley. Your grandma was pretty. You came a a great line of talented family. Again I really adore the layout of your page!

  7. Thanks Meam! I have always loved stories from the circus, too. I grew up on the stories grandma told, and of course the many found in children's books.

    I have not had a computer lately because we lost one to a lightening strike and I did get a newer one, but it has already been in the shop twice for repairs! I just got it back today, and hopefully this will be for the last time.

    Hey Bax!
    Thanks so much for the compliment on the page as well as what I wrote! Marion Zimmer-Bradley is a author I've read too! I'm into her Avalon series since I love the legends from the Arthurian legends!