Woodside Amusement Park

Part 5

by Walt Hudson



I finished 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 her eyes.

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 accident happened.

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.


For some 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 wife backstage.

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 show.

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 Sunday."

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 by.

"I sure will miss that little gal," I said. "Well, at least she's not alone. She has her husband to look after her."

"Hans?" replied the manager. "He is not her husband. He's her brother!"

                      (To Be Continued) 



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