Joe McDermott


My time at the circus

Whenever I can, I share this story with anyone I can, especially my children and grandchildren. Not only because I dedicated my life to this for about 4 years, but because I will never forget this experience.

Being born and raised in Meriden, CT, gave me the opportunity to see experience many events. Most of which would set up shop right in the back of my house and unload, get ready for the show and hold all of their stuff. It was always exciting to know that a new show, circus or event was going to be happening.
On one particular night, my brother told me that the circus is setting up and that he will wake me up early in the morning so that he can show me something. I was only about 10 years old at the time and had no idea what to expect. As I laid in my bed, I tried to close my eyes and fall asleep but I was just too excited about the next morning!

All of a sudden I was woken up by my brother. The sun was barely shining through the window and I all heard was "let's go, let's go, let's go!"

We ran out the house and slowly walked up to the many lines of trailers that the circus brought to the field. My brother called me over and we went inside, where the man was telling everybody "you go with him, you go with on and so forth". He sent my brother over with 2 men to work on attaching the seats together and creating the rows of seats that people were going to sit in for the next couple days. I on the other hand was sent over to another place. When I walked in I was shocked! There were 6 live elephants all around and the man turned to me and said "make sure they have enough water throughout the day". I couldnt believe it! My job for the day was to hang out with the elephants and fill up little kiddie pools with water. It was a job that any 10-year old could only dream about. I started filling up the kiddie pools but every time I was done and went to go fill another, I would turn around and see that the first one was empty...I would say oh no this is going to be a long day and it sure was. All I did for the whole day was go from pool to pool and fill them up with water over and over again.
When it was finally dinner time, everybody who was working, man and child, went over to the office for their dinner ticket. When I got to the man, he handed me two tickets, one for the dinner, and one for the circus. I took my tickets, and headed over to get some dinner. The dinner the circus served was good, and back in '46 chicken was a specialty, so I was happy. I took the chicken dinner and went to the lion cages to eat. I sat right by the lions and ate my dinner along with some other folks and of course the lions. I really enjoyed working for the circus. I continued doing that for about 4 years until I was 14, and then I started working at a local store. This experience is one I will never forget, and want to keep in my family's memories forever.

The love of my life

When I was in the army I had a boat which I docked at a marina on the Connecticut river. Most of the times when I went to enjoy a sunny day on my boat, a beautiful woman would sit by the dock. I would walk by her and say hello and go out on my boat. What I learned later on that her father was good friends with the marina owners and had a shop next door where he worked on boats. Jone would grill outside of her fathers shop and sell hot dogs and burgers to the people walking by. I only learned about all of this when I finally got to know Jone and she told me that her father's friends would call him and let him know I was coming down the street so that she had time to run over to the dock and sit down before I walked by. After we got to know each other we decided to get married and we stayed happily married for 26 years, shared many adventures and had 4 children.

My Family

My family means everything to me. My wife Jone. The best thing I ever did was raising my 4 children, Joe Jr., Wendy, Brian, and Jill and helping to raise my grandchildren. We shared so many laughs and cries, and went on so many adventures and moments.
One I remember in particular was a trip that we took to the west coast. I had called ahead to the Sands hotel in Las Vegas and asked them if it would be okay to camp in their parking lot overnight. The hotel agreed and we headed their way. The funny story begins at the arrival to the hotel. We had just parked and I went inside to talk to someone about the camping. As I am talking the man says "Where is your RV?" but we did not have an RV. I explained to him that we just needed a place to camp with our tent and he was surprised, but offered to help. We went into the parking to the parking lot, found a corner by the fence and the man helped me put up a string and tarp to segregate it off so we had room to pitch our tent. It was a great night in Las Vegas for my family, and truly a story we will not forget.