By Henry Wood
Leaving his place of origin of Viroqua, Wisconsin, to go back and forth with a medication convey, twelve-year-old Henry wooden turned 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 was once slightly well-known via his personal mom whilst he again home.
wooden spent the years 1910–1941 in touring medication and tent indicates that featured quite a few 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 by way of indignant theatergoers not able to tell apart 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 historical past concentrate on significant names in vaudeville and the leisure undefined, A Sawdust Heart indicates what it was once like for the genuine show-business employees and the performers who by no means made it substantial yet eked out a residing doing what they enjoyed on minor phases throughout America.
brought through Wood’s grandson-in-law Michael Fedo with a concise historical past of those touring indicates, A Sawdust Heart is an a laugh learn for an individual drawn to early-twentieth-century rural America.
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Additional info for A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows
Come on you lazy blockheads. Get in place. We got a new act to rehearse. ” The men stopped their grumbling and took their places. 44 on st age Dan picked up a drumstick to conduct with, and he banged it on his music stand. “Get ready,” he barked. ” “Dan,” Clarabelle said sharply. ” “I didn’t mean you, Jack,” Dan said. “Yes, sir,” I timidly piped. We sang three songs, rehearsing them for about an hour. When we finished, I was sweating, not because I was hot but because I was still nervous and scared.
Boston,” I said aloud. But now we were in Benton, and the Fendell show was opening that night. Bernie and I joined a crew in erecting the large tent on the fairgrounds. It was a big one—105 feet with a 40-foot stage. 34 l e av ing home ag a in Some of the locals grabbed sledges, and when the tent was up they began to drive in stakes. Once the tent was securely fastened, it was my responsibility to routinely check the stakes and the guide ropes to be sure they didn’t loosen. In a stiff wind the entire tent could come down—a disaster for a tent show, especially if the show was in progress.
Darn right,” I said. Later Dan positioned the orchestra in the pit. There were no more than six pieces, but they were solid professionals who could follow without reading music. Sometimes we used local musicians to fill in here and there. The band boys had been sleeping late, and they were a little tired when they came in, yawning and stretching, their hair messy and day-old stubbles on their chins. They regarded me in my dirty overalls and shirt and wondered, I’m sure, what that scruffy kid was doing on stage with Clarabelle.