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A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent by Henry Wood

By Henry Wood

In the early 20th century, earlier than radio and films turned frequent, rural american citizens had few techniques for leisure. whereas vaudeville theaters have been widespread and well known within the towns, they have been scarce in rural and small-town the USA, which was once hungry for either diversion and information from the remainder of the area. It used to be right here that the touring convey thrived.

Leaving his place of birth of Viroqua, Wisconsin, to commute with a medication convey, twelve-year-old Henry wooden turned addicted to exhibit enterprise. He joined a touring theater troupe, and major girl Clarabelle Fendell helped the boy develop into “Jack,” a gentleman and vaudeville performer, so reworked that he used to be slightly well-known by way of his personal mom while he back home.

wooden spent the years 1910–1941 in touring drugs and tent exhibits that featured numerous vaudeville acts, from skits to full-length dramatic performs. no matter if recalling his stories skydiving from hot-air balloons, serving within the air strength, or being accosted via indignant theatergoers not able to tell apart him from the villains he portrayed on level, Wood’s tale paints a full of life and vibrant picture.

whereas such a lot books in this interval of yank theater background specialize in significant names in vaudeville and the leisure undefined, A Sawdust Heart exhibits what it used to be like for the true show-business employees and the performers who by no means made it great yet eked out a dwelling doing what they enjoyed on minor phases throughout America.
brought by means of Wood’s grandson-in-law Michael Fedo with a concise historical past of those touring indicates, A Sawdust Heart is an fun learn for somebody attracted to early-twentieth-century rural America.


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Extra info for A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows

Example text

This here Dr. Goodenough’s Tonic will take care of it straight off. This is my own formula, friends, and it works. “Friends, you feel all drug out like an old dog in the sun? This here’s just the cure. I’m going to tell you there’s folks all over a dozen counties that’s paid a dollar for a priceless bottle of my tonic. A dollar. A day’s wages for a lot of hardworking men, but it’s worth every penny of that dollar and they know it. Which is why I can hardly keep enough of this in stock as it is.

I’ll talk to the boss. ” He jerked his head to one side. ” The boss was Lona Fendell, a fortyish lady of the theater. She was sitting in a large stuffed chair in the show tent, all made up with lipstick and powder. She was a stout woman, heavily bejeweled with baubles and dangling trinkets around her neck and on her ears, and at least eight rings adorned her fingers. Even her cigarette holder was studded with rhinestones. Bernie told her about me and said I was a good worker and he could use me as a canvas man.

We can’t do everything at once. But we can begin with this,” she said. “You’re sitting 46 on st age down. Do you know it’s impolite for a man to remain seated in the presence of a lady? When a lady enters a room, you’re to stand and remain standing until she sits. ” “Yes, ma’am,” I said, squirming. “And another thing, Jack. You always remove your hat in a lady’s presence. Always. You see a lady on the street, why, you tip your hat and say, ‘Good day Mrs. ’” She pantomimed and made me repeat it.

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