The Circus

Clyde Adams – Perth Western Australia 2001

It was about mid-1939 when, for the first time, a circus was coming to Mukinbudin, and moving on the next day for a single night in Nungarin. Apart from the clowns and the acrobats, there were animals I’d never seen, including monkeys, elephants and camels.

Almost seven years old, it was past my bedtime the night before when, hidden behind a chair in the Mangowine dining room, I listened eagerly to our father’s plans to get the family to the Mukinbudin presentation. Unfortunately he planned only to take our mother and my older brothers and sisters.

Aunt Elizabeth would look after the “little kids” he said. I sneaked off to bed, crying with frustration.

The next day they all piled into a utility, and set off along the 14 miles of dirt road to Mukinbudin. I got some satisfaction when heavy rain began to pour down, knowing they would be soaked.

Aunty Liz took great care of us younger ones, and I woke next day (Monday) to find the family had not returned. We found later the ute had got bogged on the way and, instead of reaching the circus, they had spent a wet and miserable night right there.

Not knowing that, I decided on the spur of the moment to walk the 3 miles to our little school. Forgot to take a sandwich for lunch, but was given one by the teacher, Eric Payne. Then, joy, joy and more joy… the circus passed by on the way to Nungarin.

We waved to the clowns and the monkeys, fed the elephants with vegies from the school garden and, best of all, were given rides on the camels. It was heaven.

On the way home I was met by Old Frank White, who was carrying two Camp Pie sandwiches to serve as a late lunch. They were great, and I didn’t tell him I’d already eaten.

Then when we arrived home I was met by one of my dejected older brothers who glared at me and said “Don’t tell me you went to school with filthy legs like that”.

My first ever experience of disaster turning to triumph!

I casually replied “No, I think they got dirty when I was riding on the camels”, and wandered inside to check on our Mum. Yes, she was happy for me.