Ruthie Engford Clark provided much of the information to follow. Her own words are used when most appropriate.
Ruth Engford, daughter of Harry and Lois Engford, was born April 15, 1940 at St Michael's Hospital, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. She traveled with the Forges Bros. Show, operated by her father during 1940 and 1941. The onset of World War II stopped most traveling circuses as gas rationing and travel restriction were put in place. During the war, Harry operated a chicken farm supplying eggs to local merchants. This farm was rented and located near Lois' family farm. (Red circle is Engford farm, blue circle is Lois' family's farm.)
"Both David and I did attend the Plover Grade School a couple blocks from the Engford home. As a child, in that very church in Heritage Park, I participated in a Christmas Eve program (photo) of 1944 and of course, Auntie Florence sang in the Choir there!"
"During the War years "The Engfords" act did not perform, but beginning in 1946 the family was on the road again. Harry & Lois did not want to leave us with relatives or baby-sitters while they were on the road. So, Dave and I attended schools in Indianapolis and in Pittsburgh. From, I believe 1949, thru High School, we were Home Schooled. Calvert School, Baltimore, Md. was our Grade School. American School Chicago, Ill. was our High School." (A letter from Calvert School and Lois' response can be read in David's page here.)
"In those years, home schooling was little known. In order to comply with regulations to equal conventional education, the standards were much higher, etc. Both David & I, had a teacher we reported to in Baltimore. Sending in our paperwork, compositions, hand written answers to any questions the teacher would require, etc."
Ruthie began her career in 'acting' at age eight. The letter written (photo) by her father to the American Guild of Variety Artists attest to this fact. From 1946 to 1965 the Engfords performed throughout the United States and Canada.
Ruthie's part in the act grew to include her own acrobatics parts. During the family's engagement at Circus World Museum in the summers of 1964-65, Ruthie performed her "Estreleta" trapeze act (photos) as well as performing with her parents (photos). During her trapeze performance, Ruthie did a "heel hang" of which she is very proud. In March 2007, Tavana said: "Ruthie Clark did one of the best heel hangs I have ever seen."
In 1965, in addition to preforming with her parents and her "Estreleta" performance, Ruthie also developed a "Slide for Life" (photos) performance that ran daily at 4:45 PM.
Two articles sum up the "Slide for Life."
During the summer of 1966 Frank Clark and Ruthie Engford began performing together as "Francarro & Estreleta, America’s Premier Aerialists." They were married Sept. 17, 1966 and continued to performed together until the year 2000, the final year of their act "The Brigadier."
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