By Henry Wood

In the early 20th century, earlier than radio and movies grew to become common, rural american citizens had few thoughts for leisure. whereas vaudeville theaters have been popular and renowned within the towns, they have been scarce in rural and small-town the US, which used to be hungry for either diversion and information from the remainder of the realm. It used to be right here that the touring exhibit thrived.

Leaving his place of birth of Viroqua, Wisconsin, to trip with a medication convey, twelve-year-old Henry wooden grew to become addicted to exhibit company. He joined a touring theater troupe, and best woman Clarabelle Fendell helped the boy turn into “Jack,” a gentleman and vaudeville performer, so reworked that he used to be slightly famous via his personal mom while he again 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. even if recalling his studies skydiving from hot-air balloons, serving within the air strength, or being accosted by way of indignant theatergoers not able to differentiate him from the villains he portrayed on degree, Wood’s tale paints a full of life and vibrant picture.

whereas such a lot books in this interval of yank theater heritage specialise in significant names in vaudeville and the leisure undefined, A Sawdust Heart exhibits what it was once like for the genuine 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 way of Wood’s grandson-in-law Michael Fedo with a concise historical past of those touring exhibits, A Sawdust Heart is an fun learn for a person 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

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Let’s just see what happens. Now when you get home, you take two big tablespoons of this tonic with a little warm water before you go to bed. ” She waddled back across the street with the bottle. ” The others laughed, but I was curious. I waited with him. Shortly after midnight, Frank nudged me. ” The grocer’s wife had stepped out on the upstairs back porch. She slowly descended the back stairs and went into the outhouse. Frank pulled out his watch and noted the time. ” Nobody said anything, and Frank smiled.

Big doing s in bu dd 21 Apparently a good deal of her weight was excess water, and the bloated look she carried had disappeared. Even Frank was astonished. “My gosh,” he said, scratching his ear. ” Far from being bloated, the woman was spent and drawn, but she managed to smile. She was fairly pretty too. “Yes,” she said. ” We stood around gawking. It was one of the true moments of magic or miracle I’ve ever seen. Everyone remarked on how wonderful she looked and how they couldn’t believe it. After the congratulations died, she tugged on Frank’s sleeve.

But the discipline of learning was invaluable. After a week in Benton the Fendell troupe moved from one farming community to another, always with flair. When our actors got off the train, the routine of life in the hamlet would abruptly halt. The show folks always wore flashy clothes. Men wore Panama hats and carried carved walking sticks. They smoked cigarettes through long holders. The ladies were painted and powdered and jeweled. This colorful presence quickened the pace of small towns and set the local gentry buzzing about the show people who’d just arrived.

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