When one speaks of originality one must step lightly lest one tread on some one's toes. Stepping on others'toes is not my intention. There are no records before me to refer to, I have only memories of seeing and hearing of this and that in the juggling profession. And if you will bear in mind that it is over a quarter of a century since I was active as a juggler there will be many errors perhaps in the minds of other old timers as to what I say here. If in error, it is not my intention to belittle anyone nor to give haphazard guesses.
THE BARRETTS- -I worked with Harry "POP" Barrett for a period of four weeks in the year of 1908. Somehow or other I didn't fit in Harry's act and was let out after four weeks, three of them having been spent in rehearsals. Harry Barrett if still living--and I hope he is--was a fine old juggler. He started off his career as a club juggler. Club jugglers of that day did not do the routines presented at a later date. In those days it seems that swinging clubs was in vogue and after a few deft moves with the swinging clubs he would go into a routine with one club, snaking it through the arms over the back and around the neck, from that he would go into a two club routine duplicating the same moves only with two instead of one club. His clubs for this routine were made somewhat like the present day clubs except that they were much heavier and the butt ends were bell shaped, the bell bottoms taking to some extent the place of the knobs on the handle end. Many of the intricate moves of snaking the clubs were done by grasping the butt ends, necessitating the bell bottoms. Someone at that time thought up the idea of juggling three clubs. Undoubtedly it was considered at that time to be sensational. Harry and his brother Joe did a two man juggling act. Later, Harry's son Charles joined the act -making it a trio. While playing an amusement park date at Syracuse, N.Y., Pop bought a cheap straw hat such as farmers used in that period. While back stage he idly tossed the hat in the air. He noticed a tendency of the hat to return to him boomerang fashion. In the course of his act that day without any practice Pop tried out the stunt on his audience. They were amused and encouraged him. The stunt became a principal part of Pop's act from that time on. After many months of trial and error he developed numerous tricks new to the juggling field. A good many of the tricks must be given credit where credit was due. Pop had a habit of changing partners quite often, these partners were instrumental in developing new tricks for Harry's act. I believe
Moran and Wiser worked with Barrett and if I'm wrong forgive me. To the best of my recollection Moran and Wiser developed the spinning hats for which they are still famous. Spinning the hats was done by placing the index finger in the inner rim of the hat-- where the sweat band is --and tossing them boomerang fashion over the head of the audience and returning to the fingers again. After all these years it is still something to see.
Jim Baggett of The Elgins was a partner of the Barretts and also contributed his share of hat tricks. There are many ways of juggling straw hats and while Barrett was the first one to use them in a juggling act, Moran and Wiser set the fashion in hat spinning, THE HARDDIGS, now deceased, invented the head to head passing of hats tossing them to each other in a forward and flat motion to each other's head and lighting there, being off with the left hand and passed to the right and then to the partner again. A very fine applause getter and good for laughs. Frear, Baggett and Frear also used hats in their baseball act. The Dewey Bros. To the best of my knowledge were the first to use derby hats as means of getting tricks out of them, using them in somewhat the same manner as straw hats.
Well someone had to start the ball rolling, and some one did originate this and that trick and bits of comedy.
But each trick -and each bit of comedy has been suggested by someone or something that has been done before by someone else. In other words, one idea suggests another, and presto- A new baby is born- perhaps twins. I think it little behooves any of us to say, "That fellow stole my stuff. I originated that trick or piece of business. Wait till I see him". And it may be that you did originate that trick. So what? Are you not using some trick originated by someone else also? So, steady boys, think back--- where did you get your original idea?
Getting back to Pop Barrett. Pop used to have a happy time in telling of the jumps of his day. After working in a Wine room - equivalent to our present day nightclubs - for four or five weeks of months at maybe fifteen dollars a week, he would jump to Syracuse, do the same stunt there for a few weeks, then to Chicago, and then San Francisco. After playing Frisco they would hop a freight back East, lay around till all the money was gone, go to work making cigars, getting tired of that they would get the act ready again and repeat the same routine. Great stuff, sez I.
Next issue- Some Object jugglers I've Known and Heard About.
JUGGLING ALONG BROADWAY by LARRY WEEKS
July 4th once again finds New York City full of all star juggling acts.
BENNY MEROFF, the one-man show and erstwhile orchestra leader, who is now currently appearing around the country in vaudeville, assisted by his wife, closed a weeks engagement at Loew's State Theatre last week.
In his present act he includes a bit of baton whirling, ball juggling, club juggling, and closes his clever act with a series of manipulations with a top hat. He is well versed in this last specialty, and does quite a number of intricate moves with "The Old Stovepipe".
VAL SETZ, "The Duke Of Dexterity", followed Meroff into The State, and closed his week at that theatre yesterday. In a speedy 10 minute stanza, he manages to pack more juggling of diversified items into his act than the average person could do in twice that length of time. He's a laugh and applause hit from start to finish.
THE THREE SWIFTS are in their second week at The Roxy Theatre and going strong in their well known comedy juggling classic.
TRIXIE, The Ice-Skating Girl juggler, is also playing (but not in person) in the moving electric light sign which advertises Schaefer Beer. Their slogan, "Our hand has never lost its skill", is truly appropriate when they're featuring artists of Trixie's caliber. The four plate routine and catching the ball on the mouthstick, as well as a series of handsprings on iceskates are all quite recognizable.
HOWARD NICHOLS, America's Ace Hoop Rolling and juggling Artist, recently completed an engagement at The Apollo Theatre, and will open at Loew's State on July llth. Those that have never seen Howard work who catch him when he appears in their section, will be rewarded by having the privilege of witnessing one of the most unbelievable juggling acts of this day and age. Many of his tricks are positive miracles for difficulty.
WALTER HULL, (Walter Nelson) continues on with "Carousel", and LEW FOLDS, who was also in that show for a long run is now back in N.Y.C. after a couple of months of gallivanting around the country.
FRANCISCO recently closed a long run at The Wivel, New York's popular Swedish Night Club Restaurant, and CHIN WAN concluded a run at The China Doll, one of New York's newer Night Spots. Chin does all of the traditional Chinese juggling Stunts which are so pretty to watch for flash and color.
ZIPPO, THE CLOWN, (T Nagama), continues to hold forth at Hubert's Museum on 42nd Street with his foot juggling of a barrel and a parasol.
That's the latest New York news to date. I can always be reached at 441 Brooklyn Ave., Brooklyn 25, N.Y.
ACADEMICALLY SPEAKING by LARRY WEEKS
This month to continue our listing of books, booklets, pamphlets, and magazine articles that deal in whole or in part with JUGGLING, we have recourse to a very old magic book. It is valuable to us because it contains a section listing magic books. This usually means that somewhere buried in amongst the titles are a few that deal with JUGGLING in one way or another. And this particular book is no exception.
The general title of the work is, "Tricks In Magic, Illusions, and Mental Phenomena" Vol. III. Chicago. The Clyde Publishing Co. 1898. The author is H.J. Burlingame. The last part of the book is entitled Bibliotheca, Magica-- A Classified List of Important Works on-- NATURAL AND OCCULT MAGIC-- CONJURING AND AMUSEMENTS--- Compiled with notes by the author.
Since the work is an old one, and because there wasn't much published which brought in JUGGLING at that time, there will be comparatively few items mentioned. But for the sake of the record and an attempt at thoroughness, it was decided to make use of Burlingame's list. Only the titles in the English language are being taken into consideration in this, and any future listing. Many of the titles which will appear in these lists are still available, and it is the intention of these breakdowns to show interested jugglers and collectors what to collect.
BECKMANN, JOHN. "A History of Invention and Discoveries" by .................. Public Professor in the University of Goettingen. Translated from the German by William Johnston. Second Edition. Carefully corrected and enlarged by a Fourth Volume. London, 1814. Calf, large 8vo., 4 volumes. 2,050 pp. Scarce Somewhat in style of an Encyclopedia. Contains valuable and rare articles on jugglers, Lotteries, Metals, Book Censors, Dresses, etc.
BURLINGAME, H..J. "Around The World with a Magician and a Juggler." Unique experiences in many lands. From the papers of the late Baron Hartwig Seeman, "The Emperor of Magicians", and William D'Alvini, Juggler, "Jap of Japs". Chicago, 1891. Cloth, 8vo. 172 pp. Illustrated. Contains valuable and rare information for the profession, contracts and programmes, giving the renowned D'Alvini's entire programme, also life sketch of the celebrated Bellachini and the trick that made him famous, together with the celebrated essay of Dr. Max Dessoir on "The Psychology of the Art of Conjuring."
GANTHONY, ROBERT "Bunkum Entertainents." Being a collection of 0riginal, Laughable Skits on Conjuring, Physiognomy, Juggling, Performing Fleas, Wax Works, Panorama, Phrenology, Phonograph, Second-sight, Lightning Calculators, Ventriloquism, Spiritualism, etc. to which are added Humorous Sketches, Whimsical Recitals, and Drawing Room Comedies. London. Cloth. Fancy design. 8vo. 188 pp. Illustrated.
HOFFMANN, WALTER J. "Juggling Tricks among the Menominee Indians". United States Bureau of Ethnology. Fourteenth annual report. 1892-1803. Part 1, pp. 100.
HOPKINS, ALBERT A. "Magic, Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography." Compiled by Albert A. Hopkins and Henry Ridgely Evans. New York, 1897. Cloth, 4vo. 556 pp. Illustrated.
LEROUX & GARNIER "Acrobats and Mountebanks." London, 1890. Cloth. 4vo. 336 pp. 233 illustrations. Rare and valuable work.
For serious collectors of books, and other juggling memorabilia, who feel that their collections are incomplete without the additions of these various bibliographies which list the various titles, I have several copies of "'Tricks in Magic" Vol. III, by H.J. Burrlingame, which is the book from which this month's list has been compiled. These are all "as new" and are a real find. Drop me a line if you'd like to get one, and we'll make arrangements to see that you do. Also have old juggling photographs, books, magazine articles, and other memorabilia to swap at all times, or will be pleased to purchase anything pertaining to juggling that isn't in my collection.
JUG JUGGLESON'S LETTER
Dear Roger, See you printed my letter, well I am putting Minnepls on the map. The sledge hammer and 3 rocks is my opening trick. I balance sledge on my chin and juggle the 3 rocks. One night a guy hollered, How long are you in for. I took the sledge down and hollered back, From now on. That layed them in the saw dust so I put it in the act. Now Kelly always yells and it goes over big. Have some good news and it aint bad news being in my 6th week here. But first I'll go way back to when I ran away from home when I was in the 4th grade and joined Forpaws Circus. One thing I can truthfully say, I never lugged no water for no elephant nor was I a roustabout. I have seen many a towner punk nearly get humpbacked trying to fill up the elephants but I have not seen to this day one elephant that was what you'd call filled up, have you. I started right in as a candy butcher but it wasn't long before I was a ticket seller on the side show. Have you noticed the good front ticket sellers have. The reason for this is the extra walk-away dough. The towner is so anxious to see the fat lady he leaves his change on the box. I always left the change there and hollered at him but I always seemed to have a bad cold and my voice couldn't be heard 2 feet away. Ha, ha. Well, in Kelly's Cellar they don't sell tickets but they could as it's just like a 3-ring circus. Between acts I pitch in and help behind the bar. You've heard of singing waiters, well I'm the juggling bartender. Ha, ha. Eddie Johnson going to college gave me a swell idea for a gag and I use it every show. I say, Some jugglers went to Penn State but I went to the State Pen. It's so good I laugh myself so does everybody else, so a good time is had by all. Well, so long, pal, will write more later, Jug.
BERT HANSEN'S JUGGLING REVIEWS
McCONNEL & MOORE
VICTORY THEATRE SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA MARCH 22, 1942
According to this team's ad in the June lst, 1946 issue of the Billboard, "Just closed 2 years at Gorman's Gay 90's, San Francisco. Opening May 21st - Tropics, Reno, Nevada".
Man opened with two balls and one racquet (racquet nicely decorated and balls were silvered) Closed routine juggling two balls very low in right hand and swinging racquet in left hand rapidly back and forth between the balls.
Double passing routine with six racquets.
Woman in two club swinging with short tap dance while swinging for a close.
Three club routine featuring take-aways. Very fast six club passing routine. As encore, had M.C. stand between them as they did fast passing with six clubs in front and behind the M.C.
A JUGGLER IN THE STIX by DOUG COUDEN
Norris Park, Tenn.: Studes have an opportunity to take subjects and activities which would be of value to them in the profession. A few suggestions; advertising, music, dramatics, public speaking, drawing, drum majoring and tumbling on gym team, business courses.
Word juggling. If you get a raw DEAL from some HEEL giving you the BRONX CHEER because your act lacks COLOR and is too CORNY with too much BALONEY, try to AD-LIB with some HOT, SLICK, ESCAPIST EXHIBITIONISM. If you're the real McCOY and not a STOOGE take it on the LAM for VIDEO where you can PANIC 'em. Words in caps, believe it or not, appear in New Words Section of Webster's Collegiate. As for tele, we read it's not ready for jugs until heat from lights is reduced and $'s are forthcoming for acts. In Grapevine News, official bulletin of International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists, Edgar Bergen writes, "many television studios are under construction - ventriloquists, magicians and jugglers are considered tops in television entertainment." On above I.B.V. pub., jugs should feel proud of Roger's job on the J.B. as it is far superior in make-up to the Vent paper altho they have double our circulation.
Hugh Shepley grads from Brooks School, N. Andover, Mass., plans on college and debut as pro jug this summer. He reports Truzzi does double shower with 5 clubs on Big One this season and that vet Eddie Tierney plans single with clubs only. Here are Hugh's tips on chair and table balancing; 1,2,and 3 show different ways of balancing kitchen chair on forehead. In #2 it may be necessary to round off corner and in #3 leg should be beveled to fit forehead. The card table in #4 may be balanced on corner with use of pad or rounding corner.
Jugglers' Jottings: That new fan, Charlton F. Chute, is Director of Research of the Legislative Research Committee at the State Capitol, Jefferson City, Mo. On vacash with his family in L.A., he will attend P.C.A.M. convensh where he'll meet up with Bert Hansen. H.V. Kaltenborn gets prominent mention in Gallup Poll on Most Admired World Figures. Another prominent fan, the late O.C. McIntyre, was a back yard jug, trick bike rider, etc. when a lad. Many show people read his Once Overs column avidly. Article, Leo the Caballero in 7/6 Sat. Eve. Post has sidelights on that Okla. rope spinner, the late Will Rogers. Lady has 6 pups so we stay in tall timber. Betty Gorham writes, "I appreciate foil paper and props given me by Glen Phillips, juggling knives given me by Eddie Johnson, and jug books loaned me by Jack Taylor in England." Our youthful jugglienne sends a Dumb Crack from the Side Lines. When Elgins were practicing a laywoman remarked, "You know, I think you're good enough to go on the stage." Eddie Johnson, transferred to the Univ. of Penna. in Philly, was first to show color changing discs (p. 56) professionally. He reports getting 4 torches from Arthur Mann for 6 bux. Very reasonable, sez Eddie. Bobby May scribes from home that many jugs visited him while enroute with Skating Vanities last season including a meet of 5 club passers. The Doctor of Dexterity sends with one for the "REMEMBER WHEN DEPT". Remember when Salerno threw high triples to music behind back with color changing torches? Torches were loaded on ends with different colored fireworks, creating a very spectacular effect. "I met Salerno last in Paris," writes Bobby, "He had been retired for some time and was 70 years old then. He was one of the greatest object jugglers in his day. In addition to the above he originated many other tricks including the pen thrown behind back and caught behind ear and the sliding picture frame; balanced on one corner on chin and slid all the way around the frame on forehead."
Something on showmanship is in order. Amateurs and fans would have a fuller appreciation of juggling if they keep in mind the various parts of an act in addition to tricks and gags. Our budding reporters, too, could report on outstanding showmanship angles and pros could bolster weak departments. Re showman, Webster sez, "One who is adept at exhibiting things to advantage." So we could say that showmanship means applying the various elements which help to exhibit an act advantageously. We'll list the following: wardrobe, make-up, props, stage set, routine, voice, stage presence, action, grace, music, lighting, originality, and advertising. Did we omit sumpin'? Volumes could be written on the above but inasmuch as MOST OF THIS HAS ALREADY BEEN COVERED in various books, etc. we'll ask readers to participate in this vital phase of pro juggling. Send in name of any book applying to above and we'll run it. Give title, author, price and where obtainable if possible. Also tell what angle it treats on. There is also the highly important element of selling the act to the buyer or booker.
For balancing with other than inanimate objects, a small dog, broken to front and hind leg walking, is socko. This pooch juggling with the tossing, catching and balancing biz, has great audience appeal and has been used by few jugs. The late Dick Ricton worked a balancing dog and we've heard that Lorello balanced a staff with platform on top, on his head. Small dog "sat up" on platform while Lorello played mandolin.
The Russian jug, Ikan Runonenoff, said, "Keep movinovich and they can't hitchaviki." Adios.