following article (dated approximately 1936) describes some
of the people and activities involved in the famous Bellvale
Circus. The circus was an annual event in Bellvale from
1930 into the late 1940's.
Phillips, general manager of the sixth annual amateur circus
given under auspices of the Epworth League of the Bellvale
Methodist church Friday and Saturday nights, suffered a
fracture of his right arm an inch below the elbow when he
fell from his horse as he clowned his way through the opening
on a show that had qualities of the professional in extent
and perfection, Phillips observed the professional tradition
even in those circumstances and his colleagues did likewise,
so that no one in the huge audience was aware anything outside
the scheduled program had occurred until Phillips returned
to the show ground just at the end of the circus. Meantime
he had been taken to Warwick Hospital where the fracture
was reduced by Dr. George R. Gould.
The fall was part of the funny business planned to feature
the parade. Phillips a skilled horseman, had managed it
without injury during rehearsals and Friday night. But Saturday
night he said he believed he struck on his elbow. It happened
just in front of the platform. Scrambling to his feet, the
injured clown grasped his horse's tail and got to the dresssing
room while hundreds of voices and hands proclaimed delight
with the opening event, and Edgar A. Houston, ringmaster,
figuratively took the reins and carried the circus through
Phillips, as fourth vice president of the league, is in
charge of all its social activities. He is the son of Mr.
and Mrs. Paul Phillips of Bellvale. The circus is an ambitious
undertaking that grows in importance with each year.
The program was under the direction of Mrs. Margaret Meng.
A juvenile show included Circus Song with impersonations,
Dan Quackenbush, ringmaster; Carl Quackenbush, wild man;
Bernice Quackenbush, lion tamer; Gloria Hendrickson, bareback
rider; Margaret Schrumph, trapeze performer; Frederick Batz,
strong man ; Jean Quackenbush, the fat lady; Kjell Pederson,
acrobat; Francis Shafer; tightrope walker; Keith Mitzner
and Robert Quackenbush, clowns.
The dancing horse was Margaret Meng and Marjorie Bradner;
brainless wonder, George DeGraw, sextuplets, Frank DeGraw,
doctor; Ralph DeGraw attendant, and ? kittens; barrel rolling
act, Helen DeGraw and Bernice Quackenbush; backward man,
Robert Houston and Arthur Quackenbush Jr.; boxing match,
first bout, Ernest DeGraw and Robert Quackenbush, second
bout, Earl Quackenbush and Keith Mitzner, impersonating
famous boxers; ballet dancer, Dora Scott; mimics, Robert
Houston and Kenneth Quackenbush; sword swallower, Ralph
DeGraw; little headed woman, Thelma Quackenbush; acrobats,
Margaret Meng, Marjorie Bradner, Robert and John Houston,
Helen and Ralph DeGraw, Ruth, Marian, Irwin and Frank Quackenbush,
Peggy Schrumph, Kjell Pederson, Evelyn Schaefer.
Also in the cast were Mysto, the mind reader, Frank DeGraw;
fat and thin woman, umbrella act, Frank Quackenbush, John
Houston; Betty Ward, tap dancing Friday night; trapeze acts,
Margaret Meng, Robert and John Houston, Frank Quackenbush,
Helen DeGraw, Marjorie Bradner, Peggy Schrumph, Evelyn Schaefer,
beauty contest, impersonation of actresses, Ralph DeGraw,
John and Robert Houston, Frank Quackenbush and Claud, three
year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Quackenbush, who as Shirley
Temple, won the prize.
Other performers were redheaded sheep dog, Dorothy Hendricksen;
horse race, Kenneth Quackenbush on Lightening, the mule;
George DeGraw substituting for Ray Phillips, on Omaha, an
old horse which won by being slowest; Robert Houston on
Queen, Arabian horse; Ray Buchanan on a polo pony. Mr. Buchanan
was also a cowboy and led an ox in the parade and on exhibition
Clowns were Ray Phillips, Robert Moffit, Kenneth Quackenbush
and George DeGraw; junior clowns, Bobby and Earl Quackenbush,
Keith Mitzner and Ernest DeGraw;circus hands. Clayton and
Junior Quackenbush, Marian DeGraw, Dudley, Marian,Ruth,Thelma
and Helen Quackenbush.
First prize, which was five dollars went to A. Michael Meng
of Canton, N.Y. for his dancing horse act. Edwin Purcell
of New York City was the winner of the second prize, two
dollars, with the ballet dancer and mimics. Third prize
winner was Miss Helena Meng, of Canto for the umbrella act
of the fat and thin women.
Judges in the Friday night beauty contest were Mrs. Frank
Kane of Bellvale, William Crigar and Fred VanNess of Warwick.
Judges Saturday night were George Demarest of Wisner, Miss
Anna Burkhard of Brooklyn and Arthur Perry of Warwick. Both
nights the prize winner was Claud Quackenbush, selected
with his natural curly hair.
The circus band was made up of Dorothy Bradner, Fred Houston,
Howard VanStrander and Kenneth and Frank Quackenbush."
-article courtesy of Brad and Gail Phillips.
These are some of the
people that starred in the Bellvale Circus*
Ouch!! That looks painful!
Bob Atton and Rich Quackenbush
The Kids Parade was a standard part of the
Ken and Flo Quackenbush in "surrey
with fringe on top"
What a good looking couple!
Ken Quackenbush on "Tony"
Corry with granddaughter
Elizabeth and Thelma hamming it up!#9
poster#1A-courtesy of G+B Phillips
courtesy of Charles+ Tavy Umhey
photos#6-8 courtesy of Doris Atton Humphrey
photo#9 courtesy of Corry VanDuynhoven