This is the Clyde Beatty Show (my dad wrote that on the slide) in 1949. I was in 1st grade at Midway Elementary and I remember being let out of class early so I could go. My mom thought this might be the last chance ever to see a circus. I think they were set up on Midway Drive a bit south of Aztec Villa. In the foreground is my sister, Margaret '59, between Frances Blumenstock and her dad, David. Frances was born "deaf and dumb" as it was called in those days, but eventually learned to read lips and to speak fairly well and raised a family. The thing I remember most about this circus was when a cash prize was offered to any man who would climb into the ring and survive some number of minutes with their muscle-bound wrestler. I couldn't imagine anybody being so foolish, but a guy stepped forward. There must have been lions and tigers, too. Clyde Beatty's fame was built on getting into a cage with them, but that didn't impress me as much as the wrestling proposition -- Bob Richardson '61

Actually, you are close. The Clyde Beatty Circus used to set up in a baseball field behind the Big Wheel Auto store about have a mile east of where the Sports Arena sits. It was near the old traffic circle, which is now Rosecrans and Sports Arena Blvd, then known as Frontier St. The was a Navy housing project there at that time, Frontier Housing, where I lived through 7th grade, before moving to Rolando Village and Horace Mann. Just east of where the Sports Arena sits was Frontier Elementary where I went to school. Some may remember that the Big Wheel Store was where the radio DJs would live at the top of pole, sometimes for a couple of weeks or more as a publicity thing. As for the Clyde Beatty Circus -- what I wouldn't give to see one again! The first human canonball, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Cisco Kid and Pancho, Gene Autry, and of course the great Clyde Beatty, just to name a few -- John “Jack” Abernethy '64

I was also at that circus that year. My grandpa took me down to the tracks to watch the unloading of everything and then we went to the site to watch the elephants erect the big top! Later we went to the shows. It was obviously very memorable for me. I am quite pleased that I had the chance to watch elephants at work like that
-- Barbara Bright Wilder ‘62


When Circuses Showed Up

Richard Crawford's article about circuses in San Diego in the 1800s

Clyde Beatty

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