Woodside Amusement Park
by Walt Hudson
my presentation of the oriental wax man, sold several
photos of the attraction and introduced our next act -
Virginia Dakota, the lady who smoked cigarettes through
I left the stage for my twenty minute break because our
manager would take over after Virginia finished her act
and introduce Princess Yvonne, the midget stripper,
followed by Billy Ryan and his illusions. I usually
stayed backstage in the air-conditioned building during
my break and read books.
I read a lot of paperbacks that summer and was reading
William Gresham's Nightmare Alley when the
From backstage, I heard Virginia finish her act and the
manager took her off and introduced Yvonne. As the
recorded music started, I visualized the pretty midget
performing her strip routine.
One thing I learned early in life was to shut out
distracting noises and disturbances and to concentrate
on what I was doing whether it was studying for school
or reading for pleasure. Although the background noises
of the amusement park rides, music from the
merry-go-round, and screams of the roller coaster
patrons were always present, I managed to ignore them
when I wanted to concentrate.
But when I heard the awful scream come from the other
side of the curtain, followed by noise and confusion
among the marks, I jumped up and ran out and saw
Princess Yvonne lying on the stage and writhing in pain.
The parasol she used in her act was still swinging
around in the air above the stage.
reason she had fallen to the stage and our little star
was crying out in pain.
Hans, her husband, was bending over her and covered her
scantily clothed body with the little satin jacket he
wore as part of his costume.
"It's my right arm," Yvonne kept repeating over and
over. "I think it is broken. Oh, the pain! My ankle also
hurts. I must have twisted it when I fell." She was pale
with pain. I thought she was in shock. The crowd pressed
forward and were at the edge of the platform.
"Now, if you will all step back, folks, and give the
little lady some air," suggested the manager.
He went over and carefully picked up little Yvonne and
carried her backstage. He turned to me and said, "Walt,
take over and continue on with the show. I'll get the
First Aid station to call an ambulance and take Yvonne
to the hospital."
Hans lowered the parasol to the stage, disconnected it
from the rope it was attached to and hoisted the rope up
to the top of the building. Then he left to join his
I stepped forward and thanked the audience for their
cooperation and introduced Billy Ryan, who came on with
his illusion act. The marks settled down and the show
progressed as usual.
It was about two hours later when the manager, Yvonne
and Hans returned. She had a fractured right arm and it
was in a plaster cast. Her sprained ankle was bandaged
and the right side of her body was badly bruised. She
was feeling no pain because the doctor had given her
pain killers. Hans took her into their trailer. The
doctor said it would be six to eight weeks before she
would be well enough to have the cast removed. It was
evident that she would not be able to continue working
with our show.
Hans took over Yvonne's spot for the rest of the day. We
introduced him as the world's smallest man and he
presented the speech on little people that he usually
gave following the act of the Princess. He pitched
miniature Bibles. So there was still a midget act in the
The next day Yvonne was feeling better and she limped
over and sat backstage for a few hours. "Well, now that
I can't work I'll probably have time to finish my book,"
she said. "But Hans and I are going to be leaving the
show. We will return to our house in High Point. I want
to be completely healed by the fall so we can start our
tour on the burlesque circuit. We'll probably leave on
We had a "going away" party for them Saturday night
after the show closed and we all contributed a cash gift
which they could surely use. We all autographed Yvonne's
arm cast which she said she was going to keep as a
souvenir when she had it removed. It would remind her of
the good times we had working together. She also
requested each of us give her a pitch item that we sold.
Yvonne said she collected them for a hobby.
When I arrived at work on Sunday afternoon they had
already left the grounds and were headed back to their
North Carolina home.
As I stood out back of our building, looking at the spot
where they had parked their trailer, the manager walked
"I sure will miss that little gal," I said. "Well, at
least she's not alone. She has her husband to look after
"Hans?" replied the manager. "He is not her husband.
He's her brother!"
(To Be Continued)
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