This And That

by Slim Price

 

So Many Things I Failed to Appreciate

God, sometimes the memories flow.  Fortunately, I suppose, my mind is a little less rusty than my body.   There are so many things that I failed to appreciate then, but that live in my mind. I realize now that I only saw the forest then and not the trees. Finding trees on a lot simply meant you had something to lean back against and do nothing for a while...in the shade.

 

As I look back now though I see so much.  Like stepping onto a lot for the very first time.  Returning to a lot from a date. Finding a place to do much needed laundry.  Running into a friend. Taking a bath.  Being as strong as an ox and not knowing it. 

 

Cherishing a little rain, ‘‘cause it meant a day off, but at the same time hating it, ‘‘cause I loved the crowds. Going out on the bally, and seeing marks that thought you were something special, their eyes looking up, studying you as a curiosity. Hearing the intake of collective breaths when you did something they thought was dangerous. Doing dangerous things and getting no response at all, when the marks thought it was ordinary.  Talking a 100% blow-off, or finding a new line that worked during the grind.  Putting in a new trick, and having it work. Loving applause, working, romancing a microphone. Smelling new hay or sawdust. And being “Widdit.”


A Little Love Story


As we grow older, a lot of memories get dropped but a few stick around to get rolled out on nights when sleep won’t come.

 

It was at Coney Island at the front end of the fifties, and I was sixteen, maybe seventeen.  I remember it was cool, so it must have been somewhere near the end of the season. On our inside stage, someone I had never seen made an entrance. Performers just walked on stage and left from stage left.

 

In a moment I was breathless! The most beautiful woman I had ever seen was there, and she began to sing. Usually, we never had an inside talker. The acts just walked on did their pieces and walked off. This time was a little different. Justin, one of the talkers came on and just said, “Lady Harlequin.”

 

She was dark skinned, her voice was husky, and I was in love. I have no memory of the song she sang.  All I remember now was that I was entranced! She finished what I suppose was an audition and exited to real applause, typical for our show.

 

I had to say something to her! I was working the bally, and did the call, and was there when she came out. I jumped off the box and said the most stupid thing in my life! I said, “Lady Harlequin, you are the best singer I ever heard, even though you’re color-” Slap! She left my cheek hot, my head ringing, and I think, my heart broken, at least until now. I never saw her again.  It’s clear she didn’t get a job, an agent’s mistake. I never had a chance to say this until now, but Lady Harlequin, I am very sorry. I meant it as a true compliment.


The Blade Box 

 

The blade box is a nice ding that can be used in a top or show to garner a few extra bucks from the tip. It sits on a platform just a little above eye level so you need to “Donate” something to see the secret and hopefully other stuff!

 

The box is just large enough to hold a girl who is wearing a robe. By the way, it’s always her only source of income. (Sure!) The top of the box is shown to be divided with many slots for wide blades, like those used in the sawing a woman in half illusion.

 

The woman gets in the box, and then pushes her robe and other bits of costume out through the top. The operator then inserts the blades, apparently dividing the woman in several sections. When this is finished, the tip is allowed to ascend a staircase, make a donation, and see the woman. She is of course covered (still in costume) and just fit around the blades, mostly lying on her side. The tip is passed by very quickly, not given enough time to realize what they have seen.


Night of the “Buffalo Wing”

 

I got my start with the carnivals as “The Funny Old Magician” working in the sideshows at the ripe old age of 17!!  In my mature years, the mid-70’s, I was lucky enough to be a regular at Forks Hotel “Magic Castle of the East” for Eddie Fector and his protégé, Lou Gallo. They used to meet at 6 AM to work with magic, especially cards. It made for a long day, but also for unusual mastery of the art.

 

So many of the greats were there, and other pros passing through made it an exciting place to be at. By the way, the Founder’s Ring (IBM 12) met there, led by Gene Gordon.  Just for geography’s sake, Fork’s Hotel is just outside Buffalo, New York in Cheektowaga.

 

The night Buffalo Wings were created Forks was very busy.  They used all of the normal stock of victuals except for chicken wings, which were not even part of the menu, and were usually discarded. The food ran out and the place was busy.  In desperation, Fector put a bunch of the wings in the oven, just to have something to serve.  He created some sauces on the spot, peanut butter, sour cream, anything that was handy, and it became a sensation!

 

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