Juggler's Bulletin

P.O. Box 711, Tulsa 1, Oklahoma

Number 5, February 1945
To a grand old Juggler, DICK RICTON, Barnum of the Sticks, we dedicate this issue of the Bulletin. RICTON at the age of 63, after 50 years of Juggling and Show business is retiring. (See Doug's column for further details).

RICTON was one of the few Jugglers to actually show eight ball juggling. He also did 9 but the fountain movement of eight showed the many hours of practice that was characteristic of his work.

In RICTON's Tent Show career, he really had a "family" show - other members of the "family" working in various capacities. One of his sons, who was with him for years, recently was discharged from the Service, having been wounded in the African Campaign.

During RICTON's entire show career, he always found time to practice .... even after he passed the sixty year mark. During the Last few years, he gradually tapered off on his more difficult juggling routines and put more time on his dog training. During his last year of showing, he was doing an hour show, 15 minutes of juggling and 45 minutes with the pooches.

Besides ball juggling, RICTON has also performed at various times a wide range of other juggling - such as balancing, plug hat juggling, juggling three hand- kerchiefs, felt hat spinning, cigar-boxes, and other straight and comedy routines.

RICTON was a good talker, a top-notch salesman of the old school, and later when he went into the school assembly field, he sold the show in a sort-of-a pre-view to school audiences before the date of the appearance. This talking ability resulted in an almost 100% turn-out to his shows.

This cover picture of RICTON, which is the back cover of his Juggler's Manual, a copy of which we're still trying to beg, borrow or steal, is the only one we've been able to get. Probably, because he has never used this type of advertising.

Safford, Ariz. ROGER MONTANDON poured it on a little thick about me in Juggler's Bulletin +3, but we'll forgive him as he has the makings of a P.A. There's a very timely story right now about a grand old Juggler, RICTON, Barnum of the Sticks. Dick is just retiring after more than 40 years in show biz. Many of you readers may not know about him, because his publicity has been very meager, and he is not much of a hand at writing letters. Playing the Stix, publicity has very little value, but Ricton did send in an occasional squib to the Pipes for Pitchmen column in the Billboard, as for many years he operated his own tent medicine show in the South.

Photo of Ricton in this issue was taken from the back page of a booklet on juggling which he published at the age of 19 and as he is now nearing the 65 mark, I believe this is a record for long time juggling. Pic shows Ricton doing some of his wonderful ball juggling at which he specialized. This booklet is one of my prize possessions and I also have in my scrap book, snap shots of his Med Show which at one time was a big top with a number of performers, roustabouts, trucks, etc. Ricton did his Juggling Act in his own show and started training dogs and working them in another act.

Several years ago, Ricton gave up his big show and went into the same kind of work my wife and I are doing, playing School Assembly Shows independently. He and his wife, Mattie, also lived in a trailer and in a letter recently he stated that if he had his entire show career to live over again it would be ALL schools. Dick's first venture as a professional was in a museum in Boston in the Gay 90's. Later he did a single in Vaudeville for a number of years. Last word from him was a post card from Tennessee saying that he was closing for good because of ill health. He has bought a Cafe and Confectionery business about six miles out of Atlanta on the Highway to Birmingham, Alabama. The address is 2534 Bankhead, Atlanta, Georgia. I feel sure we all will want to wish him luck in his new venture.

As a fine gesture from all Jugglers who read this, will you sit right down and write him a letter, or even a post card wishing him luck in his new venture. If you have a photo or advertising, send it on to him to stick up in his place of business. I know he would be proud to display any such greetings from brother jugglers.

Had some grand visits with John Alexander and his family in Tucson and will have some interesting things to say about him in the next Bulletin. Lola (my wife) took some snaps of us juggling together and if they turn out good enough, will send one in as it should be a real surprise to any one interested in juggling. Have been corresponding with several jugglers in Texas and we are looking for- ward to some pleasant visits in San Antonio. We go into El Paso first, so if any one knows of anyone there interested in the art, let me know. As we go along the trail will take snap shots of Jugglers we meet and if they are good I am sure Roger will publish them. Also carry a portable in the trailer and have plenty of time to write letters, so drop a line if the spirit moves you. Address is 1860 El Sereno Avenue, Pasadena 3, California.

From now on, in case you all fail to receive a bulletin, you can put the full blame on my new helper - Hepzibah, Jr - - - - an Addressograph Machine.

A flock of letters, news and photos, some of which we'll have to save for future BULLETINS, have come in the past month, so here they are: BOB BLAU explains all, clears himself regarding the tomato incident of last Bulletin. Bob says, "Now regarding the tomato that shows up in the Picture I feel that after a good many years of juggling, my act must be improving some - because you will notice that there is only ONE tomato this time! It's a great feeling when the number of missiles per act begins to diminish. (Confidentially, I thought I had bought up all the tomatoes in the neighborhood but must have overlooked one. However, just to be on the safe side, I always do a pretty fast act, and keep moving all the time!) Seriously speaking - that picture has a sentimental value to me, because I happened to be using a set of clubs given to me by my good friend Ben Beri. Also stole the trick of spinning the club on the glass from him. I think you will agree with me when I say Ben is bound to go down in Juggling History as one of the Masters."

JACK PARKER - now overseas in the Service drops a V-Letter saying that MEL ODY was up to see him. MEL is a PFC in-the USMC and is at present working with Lieut. Bob Crosby's Band and Unit. JOE BROOKS - Comedy Juggler - is working with a Civilian Show in Honolulu. VAL SETZ passed through recently with the Betty Hutton troupe, a U.S.O. Show. JACK would like to hear from the 3 Swifts.

HARRY PEPPER writes a most interesting letter and sheds the first light on the Devil Stick-routine. "Speaking of Ed Van Wyck - I think that I bought three Devil Sticks from him when I was a kid. I don't remember exactly, but I think that they were made of fairly hard wood, and were hard for a beginner, as they would slip, but since then I have had them made of softer woods, and one in particular, (made of Balsa wood) was very easy to handle, but those light woods break easily. I am using one now, made of a curtain pole wrapped with colored cloth and it works O.K. as I only use them when I keep repeating on a job. There are a few standard tricks you can do with them such as taking the two small sticks and keeping the large one in the air by hitting it a few inches from the top, from stick to stick. Then I take the small stick and keep the large one twirling, slowly horizontally on it - then I bring, it upright again and keep hitting the large stick on each side with the small one, keeping the large one in the air with the small one - and finish by twirling the large stick with the small one, same as a baton on one finger, and I think that is the standard routine used by Devil Stick Jugglers. The last three tricks require considerable practice. There is a Juggler who makes a specialty of Devil Sticks, but he uses real thin straight sticks, about one-eighth to one-quarter inch thick. He uses first one, then two with each hand, and at finish has two sticks held in each hand, and one twirling between each two, making it a very effective trick. His name is Don Caper, and he is working, out of Pittsburg at present. "

TRACY ANDREWS reports running into HARRY LATOY while playing Clubs in St. Louis. LATOY, an old time hat juggler, is going to Tuscon for his health.

One of Ripley's Believe It or Not columns cartooned TOM REDWAY as having juggled 5 balls in the air for a distance of 3 1/2 miles in Orange, Mass.

LADDIE LAMONT reports meeting ANDY THUMSER in Baltimore and FRANK PORTILLO in Washington. LAMONT is at present playing with Ripley's "Believe It or Not" Revue.

LOGAN WAIT, my "podner in crime" of Magic and Juggling, and I made a flying trip to Wichita, Kansas, recently so I got out the list and found that two jugglers held forth up there - Al Barnard, Al Barnard, Jr. (they call him Buster) and Dick Williams - that's three of them - we're still in a fog - catching up on sleep and things, though. It happened something like this, as near as I can remember: Buster had a show in a hall directly over our room in the Broadview, so we sneaked up the back way - those were the longest, narrowest stairs we've seen in a long time - and arrived just in time to say hello and get out in front. Buster does some swell ball and club work, comedy tramp style. We specially got a kick out of his match and cigarette routine. After two attempts he finally on the third one succeeds in throwing a lit match around his shoulder and catches it in his mouth alongside the cigarette already there and by puffing, lights the cigarette. This feat, Buster tells me, is doubly difficult now due to the cigarette shortage.

After the show we went over to Al Barnard's house where we had a most enjoyable time until three or four in the morning. In the basement is the beginning of a wonderful Recreation Room. Around the room in neat frames are pictures of interest to all jugglers and showmen. Also stocked around the room - Al promises to have them all stocked away in cabinets but we hope he never gets around to it - are Indian Clubs, Roman axes and other Juggling equipment. While browsing around we caught a glimpse of Al demonstrating the old ball and tube routine with a set of Van Wycks aluminum balls.

Back upstairs again to sit back and enjoy some plain and fancy ball tossing by Buster and talk of Juggling and Jugglers. Buster travels light when he does a show and we were quite interested in the unusually fine carrying case he uses. Made of Aircraft plywood with metal reinforcing corners, it makes a beautiful case. Inside partitions separate Indian clubs, balls and cigar boxes ready for use the minute the lid is opened. With the addition of a stand to hold the case this will be a valuable asset for getting on and off fast and neatly.

Back home again we took time off to call the Barndrds at about eleven o'clock one night - getting him out of bed of course - but also extracting a promise for some interesting material for a future Bulletin.

TOM BREEN postcards the following from St. Louis before hopping down to the St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans: "This is not a picture of me but shows how some people think juggling has gone to the dogs.

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