By Henry Wood
Leaving his homeland of Viroqua, Wisconsin, to go back and forth with a medication exhibit, twelve-year-old Henry wooden turned addicted to convey company. He joined a touring theater troupe, and prime woman Clarabelle Fendell helped the boy develop into “Jack,” a gentleman and vaudeville performer, so remodeled that he used to be slightly well-known through his personal mom while he lower back 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. even if recalling his studies skydiving from hot-air balloons, serving within the air strength, or being accosted via offended theatergoers not able to tell apart him from the villains he portrayed on degree, Wood’s tale paints a full of life and brilliant picture.
whereas so much books in this interval of yankee theater heritage concentrate on significant names in vaudeville and the leisure undefined, A Sawdust Heart indicates what it used to be like for the genuine show-business employees and the performers who by no means made it significant 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 background of those touring indicates, A Sawdust Heart is an a laugh learn for someone 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
Our performers included a juggler who also sang and accompanied himself on the accordion, a leading man, and a woman who played romantic and comedy skits. Bill Goodenough was the pitchman, and he got out in front of the tent and wagon and started hollering for attention. In a town the size of Budd, anybody hollering is an attraction by itself, and folks started coming up the street to see what was going on. When he’d gotten a fair-sized gathering before him, Bill introduced the entertainers who performed their routines.
This colorful presence quickened the pace of small towns and set the local gentry buzzing about the show people who’d just arrived. On occasion a local German band might greet us and a brief impromptu performance might be given on the railroad platform, with Dan Fendell acting as barker and emcee, promising much, much more that evening at the best show ever to hit this neck of the woods. 36 l e av ing home ag a in Such welcomes were not always the rule, however, for if our arrival coincided with midweek prayer services at local churches, you could count on the clergy to give scourging sermons about the wickedness and corruption that had descended on their city.
I’d use Gram’s address and let Gram handle things with Dad. Miss Fendell nodded. “I expect a full day’s work out of each of the boys, Henry,” she said. Then she winked. “One condition—no swearing, drinking, or carousing. ” “Yes, ma’am,” I answered soberly. “Good,” she said. ” 28 l e av ing home ag a in That afternoon I helped set up the bleachers in the tent and watched the show. I returned to Gram’s with a new lease on life but didn’t mention the offer to her, at least not then. I didn’t get time to later, either, because Dad came over the next day and hauled me back home.
A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows by Henry Wood