Carson couple spent lives clowning around, seriously |

Carson couple spent lives clowning around, seriously

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Tom Tomashek, 62, shows off his juggling skills while his wife, Luba, 57, waits for her turn with the pins. The couple met while working in a circus. He was a clown, and she was an animal trainer.

Passing him on the street, with his flat-front chinos and crisp button-down shirt, Tom Tomashek looks like a typical senior citizen.

The salt-and-pepper hair and reserved demeanor exude an air of sophistication, perhaps of a a stockbroker or an insurance salesman.

But for more than 20 years, his uniform consisted of a large red nose and oversized shoes.

Tomashek, 62, has spent his life under the big top, first as a clown and a juggler then as a musical director. From March to October, it was seven days a week, two shows a day or on the road, heading for the next location. It’s what he has always wanted to do, and something he loves.

“I remember being at dinner one night, and we had a clown from Connecticut, a flyer from Brazil and a kid from near Guam. I’m just a guy from Oregon, and here I am, sitting with four different cultures,” Tomashek said.

The entertainment life gave him the chance to travel, bring mirth to thousands and blessed him the love of his life, his wife, Luba.

Luba joined the Moscow Circus at 18 after attending a circus school in the Ukraine. She was an animal trainer, focusing mostly on bears. Her act became one of the best in the world, and she traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia.

“We were traveling from China to Moscow and spent eight days and nights on a boxcar through Siberia with no heat. It was so cold,” Luba, 57, said.

Even with the less-than-glamorous moments, Luba said, there is no place she’d rather be than in the center ring.

“Circus people are like a big family. They always help each other and understand every situation,” Luba said.

Luba came to the United States in 1998 with her son, Ivan, and continued to work in “The Greatest Show on Earth.” In 2000, she joined the Kelly Miller Circus, whose musical director, she recalled, was a man named Tom.

“We had not a word in common, but I asked her out, and we went out to eat for pizza,” Tom said. “We ordered from looking at the pictures.”

At the end of the 2002 season, they decided that despite their love of performing, they were growing too old to stay on the circuit. Tom took a job training horses in Palm Springs.

“Once the horses were trained, the job was kind of done. So we thought we’d move to Las Vegas, but it was too hot for us,” Tom said.

The pair found that Carson City was more their style. Tom took a job at the Carson Nugget, while Luba began working at Wal-Mart.

Yet the warm glow of the spotlight is not an addiction easily conquered, and the Tomasheks still crave an audience.

“I like performing, I enjoy that. I like working in front of a live audience and being with all those people,” Tom said. “I’d love to do that again. It’s still fun, and I can still do a 45-minute show by myself.”

When Tom reached retirement age, the pair decided it was time for a change. First on the agenda: a three-month hiatus in Moscow, visiting Luba’s family and friends along with a trip to the Moscow Circus.

Upon their return, the Tomasheks will return to their first love – performing. They will begin working county fairs and events in California and Nevada when the season starts again in March.

When asked why, Tom just smiles and says that it is time to get serious, and have a little fun.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.