By Eric Beheim, WJU #66: Here are calliope recordings featuring Juanita Beck playing 8 tradition circus numbers. The record was produced by the R. L. P. Co. located in Baraboo and was released on the Cuca label. I probably acquired this while I was still in college, so it has to date from the late 1960s. It is unlikely that this LP received wide distribution and is probably quite rare today.
Entry of the Gladiators (Fucik)
Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite (King)
Ringling Bros. Grand Entry (Sweet)
Jungle Queen (Barnard)
Broadway One-Step (King)
Royal Decree (English)
The Billboard (Klohr)
Juanita E. Beck was born on November 19, 1909. When she was a child, her father would take her to the circus every time it was in town, and she garnered a love for circus culture because of it. She even met her husband, Lance M. “Brownie” Beck, at the circus. In 1946, the pair purchased their locally renown calliope and wagon, built originally ca. 1896, from the Terrell Jacobs of the Ringling Bros. Circus and restored it over the years. They hired local artisans Joseph Schoenberger and Emil Sinniger to carve and paint the restored panels. Brownie drove a team of six miniature mules that would pull the calliope as Juanita played. They attended several parades, fairs, and other social events with the calliope, most notably the Hixon House ice cream socials hosted by the La Crosse County Historical Society. After the mules and her husband passed away, the calliope was pulled by her son Monte’s pickup truck. Juanita attended 19 out of 21 of the ice cream socials as the calliope grand dame, only missing two because of broken hip and a heart attack. Over the years she gave piano and organ lessons to students in the greater La Crosse area and continued to attend social events with her calliope until her death on May 10, 1993. After her death, her calliope was eventually sold to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI.