Uvalde, TX Circus Tent Collapses, Mar 1955


Uvalde, Tex. (AP) -- Mothers screamed, frightened children cried but no one was seriously hurt when a windstorm yesterday collapsed a circus tent on 400 persons.
Soggy and heavy from lashing rains which accompanied the storm, the big HAGEN BROS. Circus tent fell just before the lion and tiger act began, and just after other circus animals paraded around the arena.
Had the thunderstorm-spawned wind struck a moment earlier or later, the animals might have been freed among the spectators.
No Time To Scare.
"I might have been scared if I had had time," said J. W. STEWART, Uvalde grocer who brought his two sons and a neighbor's two girls to the Jaycee-sponsored show on Uvalde's northern outskirts.
The children, among several hundred youngsters in the tent, were JIMMIE, 12, and RONNIE STEWART, 4, and DEBORAH, 5, and GAIL, 4, daughters of ROBERT HICKS.
"I told JIMMIE to get RONNIE," STEWART said. "Then I picked up DEBORAH and GAIL, one under each arm. Just after we got down from the bleachers, they collapsed. Something hit me. JIMMIE told me afterward it was a tent pole. I'm sore all over."
Boy Scout Training.
JIMMIE credited his Boy Scout training for an act which may have saved DEBORAH'S life.
"The (Boy Scout) manual says you should always keep your head when there's a bad fire or something," the slight, brown-haired boy said. "Well, when that tent started coming down I saw one of the big poles was falling. It was going to hit DEBORAH. I pulled her out of the way fast."
Spectators who crawled under bleachers and other paraphernalia holding the canvas off the floor were met by a blast of wind outside.
Police Officer GEORGE O'NEAL said the supporting poles, attached to the tent's roof, bobbed dangerously up and down among spectators as the wind began billowing the tent. The final collapse, he said, was gradual and took about 15 minutes.
A number of children were scratched and bruised, said Police Chief JOE NEWCOMER, but no one was hurt enough to need medical attention.

Jefferson City Post-Tribune Missouri 1955-03-21