The Pitchman

 

Below are three items and the pitches that Ward used to sell them as well as the stories that go with them.

 

The Keyhole Card - This shows what Johnny saw when he peaked through the keyhole of his sister's bedroom on her wedding night!  What he saw is nobody's business but your own.  Now boys if you get one of these don't show it to the girls, and girls if you get one of these for goodness sake don't show it to any of the boys.  To make it work all you have to do is dip it in vinegar and hold it up to the light.  Well, people would buy them and come back and say it didn't work.  So I would ask them what kind of vinegar they used.  "Well I don't know, just vinegar." Well it only works in apple vinegar.

 

Well after a while the heat got to be too much because when your with a carnival you're there for a long time.  So after a while people would come back again and say they still didn't see anything.  I'd say you know, neither did Johnny...the lights were out!

 

The Look-Back-A-Scope - We have a new novelty thats been imported directly from France.  [Sniff] You can still smell the salt air on it because it's just been here a few days.  This is known as the Look-Back-A-Scope or X-Ray box.  If you hold it at this angle and look into one of the viewers, there's one there and two there, you can see right around to whats in back of you.  You can know whats going on behind you all the time.  If you hold it at this angle you can see right around the corner.  You can also use it as a periscope by holding it over your head and looking through it.  So if you're in a crowd and can't see whats going on in front of you at the circus this enables you to see everything.  The main thing of course is that if you hold it to your hand, hold it at a forty-five degree angle and hold your hand up to a bright light while moving it slowly it works like an x-ray machine and you can see what appears to be the bones in your hand.  Now boys be careful, since it does work like and x-ray machine be careful where you point it...you never know what you might happen to see.  And if your standing on a windy street corner and a pretty girl walks by...well what you see is nobody's business but you're own.

 

Would you believe that in New York City in 1961 the New York City police vice detective at Hubert's Museum on 42nd street said "You can not say that!" Well I said you really can't see anything when you..."You are telling kids that if they wait on a windy street corner and a pretty girl walks by then what they see is nobody's business but their own.  You are encouraging children to look under pretty girls' dresses.  You are encouraging pornography.  Don't do it again or I'll put you in jail."

 

That shows how clean that area was in 1961.  By 1971 that same exact spot was a pornographic movie theater.  In fact, there was nothing but pornographic [type businesses] up and down 42nd street.

 

The Telescope - [At Madison Square Garden] Nate Eagle said "you've been pitching look back's and Baltic who makes the rings for the giant has these little telescopes that would be good.  Why don't you try and make a pitch for those.  I've got a case right here."   I looked and thought how the heck do you pitch a telescope.  So this is what I did.  

 

Ladies and gentleman, this year Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Greatest Show on Earth, is better than it has ever been before.  There will be as many as eleven acts presented at one time in that arena today, and no matter where you're sitting you're going to be sitting a long ways away from some of those acts.  Even if you're sitting in the front row by the center ring.  Mr. John Ringling North does not want you to miss any part of this, his greatest show ever.  So he has asked us to distribute to the patrons of the circus this beautiful little telescope.  It's not a toy, it has powerful lenses, three lenses, and if you have one of these telescopes even if your sitting in that last seat in the balcony on one end when that girl is appearing on that swinging trapeze in the center ring why you'll think she's ready to sit in your lap.  You'll get to see every part of the circus.  And the best part is Mr. North said give them to the people free.  We make no charge whatsoever for the telescope...they are free.  All that we ask you to pay for is the cost of packing, shipping and handling which is only fifty cents each.

 

We sold a ton of them.  Every day I was [looking over my shoulder].  Now I was at that Garden for eight years and that was when John Ringling owned the circus.  And in those eight years I never once ever laid eyes on John North...I never saw him.  His brother Henry that they called Buddy, I used to see him a lot.  He'd come down to the sideshow when they'd bring in celebrities and big shots who wanted to see it, but I never saw John North, he never came down to see it.  But I always thought boy if he ever comes down here and hears this I'm out of that back door just as fast as the guard can get a hold of me and throw me out.  

 

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