ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Gerald Schubert

“In love with the Circus”

Title of 02 15 1983 Wisconsin State Journal article; text abstracted from


The day that the circus came to Watertown was always the best day of summer in the boyhood of 68-year-old silver-haired grandfather Gerald Schubert.


Thirty delicate miniatures — all replicas of wagons that once served circuses that once traveled this country and that he has made over the past 13 years — will be on exhibit for the remainder of February in the display windows of Craft House 55 in Westgate Mall


Schubert’s love for the circus has never waned.


Schubert hears circus music several times every summer at the Circus World Museum.  He always gets there the first day it's open and returns whenever he can.  "And when I go, I'm there from the time it opens until it closes at night," he mused.


He figured it probably was 1968 or '69 when he .went to the museum for the first time, "saw the circus come alive again and was reminded of the old horse drawn wagons pulled in the parades when I was a kid."


During one of his more recent visits, he measured the museum's Swan Wagon in order to build his miniature to exact scale of 1 inch to 1 foot.


Among his collection of miniatures that he has made are wagons with individual names — Columbia, a band wagon like the Swan; the Hippo Wagon, one of many caged animal wagons; Mother Goose, whose side panels are filled with fairytale characters.  The Columbia and Hippo also are in the collection of the Circus World Museum at Baraboo, and the Mother Goose is a wagon that once rolled proudly in parades and now lives only in these miniatures.


Some wagons, especially those with highly ornamented side panels like the Swan and Columbia, are made from kits, which means that the sides have made by artists who specialize in carving these designs.  Still, the painting, cutting the rest of the parts and gluing all together takes hours over several evenings to make of them.  Most wagons are very detailed; including brake wheels beside the driver's seat and brake shoes, hip rings and long wagon tongues to which the horses were hitched.


Schubert, who is retired from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and commuted to Milwaukee every day for 20 years, still has the first wagon he ever made.  But he has a hard time remembering which one it was.  A woodworker by avocation, he also likes to makes antique toys.  Some of them also are at Craft House.




Circus buff Gerald Schubert loves to watch a circus set up the big tent, but he also likes to watch it go down.  Scouting the grounds long after the circus has gone gives him the opportunity to add to his tent stake collection.  If he is lucky enough to find one, he will add it to his collection in his “circus room” which is covered with circus posters.  He has loved circuses all his life, ever since the first calliope called, and he has collected over 60 posters from all over the world.  The posters cover the walls of what he calls his “circus room” in his basement.  The tent stakes are stacked in a corner.  Models of circus train wagons which he made are neatly displayed on shelves along one wall.  His collection of circus-related books, all 52 of them, are housed in a bookcase on the main level of the house which he shares with his wife, Jane.



Cross Reference:

Chapter on Circuses




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin