When she was a girl, Alyce Blum used to run away from her
Pennsylvania orphanage every summer to join the circus.
"I climbed right out the window," she said.
With her older brother, Jack, she hitchhiked to Florida and
connected with a circus troupe entertaining crowds during the Great
Now 93, Blum lives in Manor House, a retirement community in Seaford.
But she can easily recall details of her traveling life as far back
as the 1920s, as a child ensconced in a world that children all
over are amazed by.
"I'm never sorry I did it," Blum said Wednesday, March 6. "The
circus is my family."
Her family paid her a visit that evening, when four performers
from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus dropped in
at Manor House ACTS Retirement-Life Community for a surprise
session with Blum.
Staff at the center had planned a trip with her to see the
troupe perform at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in
Salisbury, Md., while the act was in town. But they kept her in the
dark about Wednesday's visit right up until the moment she walked
into the dining hall to find the four performers in full
"We're here to celebrate Alyce Blum," said ringmaster David
Shipman, dressed in a sparkling green-and-blue coat, as clown Dean
Kelley presented a beaming Blum with a bouquet of flowers. Kelley,
juggler Lanka Smaha and animal trainer Catherine Carden then
performed a few tricks for Blum and the other residents.
As Blum tells it, her circus years were a wonderful way to grow
up. She performed high-wire tricks, riding Indian motorcycles
across the ring from a great height, and glided among tigers during
shows. The motorcycles "were heavy machines, but they're powerful
as heck," she said. "I never fell off. Never got hurt, ever, at
all." None of her exploits, night after night, ever seemed
dangerous to her, she said.
After the surprise was sprung and the performances over, the
young performers chatted with Blum about her career. Carden, the
animal trainer, deduced that Blum had worked in the circus ring
with her father, now 90.
"I've heard my dad tell stories," Carden said. "I think he
called her Goldy."
Blum's working name in the circus was "Goldy, the Circus