By Henry Wood

In the early 20th century, ahead of radio and movies grew to become common, rural americans had few strategies for leisure. whereas vaudeville theaters have been well known 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 was once the following that the touring express thrived.

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 top woman Clarabelle Fendell helped the boy turn into “Jack,” a gentleman and vaudeville performer, so reworked that he used to be slightly well-known via his personal mom while he lower back home.

wooden spent the years 1910–1941 in touring medication and tent exhibits that featured numerous vaudeville acts, from skits to full-length dramatic performs. no matter if recalling his reviews skydiving from hot-air balloons, serving within the air strength, or being accosted by means of offended 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 yankee theater historical past concentrate on significant names in vaudeville and the leisure undefined, A Sawdust Heart exhibits what it used to be like for the genuine show-business staff and the performers who by no means made it huge yet eked out a dwelling doing what they enjoyed on minor levels throughout America.
brought by means of Wood’s grandson-in-law Michael Fedo with a concise historical past of those touring exhibits, A Sawdust Heart is an a laugh learn for a person attracted to early-twentieth-century rural America.

 

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Additional info for A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows

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Well, I’ll certainly tell her,” Mrs. Fortney said, toddling off down the road. This page intentionally left blank 4 On Stage with the Leading Lady I continued sleeping in the tent, rising early with the sun. If no one happened to be around or if there was nothing special to do, I’d fool around on the piano, plunking out bits and pieces of tunes I used to hear Mother playing at home. I could sing pretty well for a youngster, so once in a while I’d sing a few bars or hum along as I played. One morning while we were still in La Crosse, Clarabelle Fendell came in and listened to me, though I wasn’t aware of her presence.

That turned my world upside down. As far as I was concerned, the most gorgeous woman in the world was taking an interest in me and standing up for me in front of the blustery boss. At that moment I knew there wasn’t anything in the world I wouldn’t do for Clarabelle. If I had been fifteen years older, I’d have asked her to marry me. As soon as Dan left, I climbed back on stage. ” Clarabelle said. “You bet,” I said. She reached out and gently touched my arm. ” “You’re going to have to learn to be special, not like other boys, because from now on you’re in show business.

I soon learned that Frank would bet on anything, but everyone knew he’d be right about his medicine, so no one accepted his challenge. Just as he predicted, she appeared again, only this time the lady almost ran and slid down those tired old stairs, huffing like a steam engine to make it this time. We all laughed and looked at Frank. “I’d say thirty minutes again,” he said. He missed by maybe a minute or two, but when the woman completed her duty, she could barely move from the door of the outhouse.

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