Rain Making 

by Mark Osterman

 

The rain making was the most fun. We ran garden sprayer hoses up through the backdrop pipes with the sprayer nozzles terminating at the top facing the audience but pointing up.

 

The story was that we had a purgative pill, (like a Tic Tac mint) which we energized with a centrifuge and then loaded into a large Civil War musket (which was already preloaded with a charge). The gun was fired into the air making lots of noise and a cloud of white sulfurous smoke; at the same time Screaming Weasel stepped on a button which was a valve for the garden sprayers. They sprayed way up into the air, unseen by the audience because of the smoke, and then gently rained on the audience. They were amazed for about three seconds, then we made a big deal about Screaming Weasel not being able to turn off the water. He would then turn the sprayers to aim behind the stage. This usually allowed us to enter into a pitch for Lenape Liquid.

 

We did do a show at Kutztown, Pennsylvania in August where it actually started to pour as soon as we shot the gun. We could see the storm forming as it came up from behind the audience. So, we kept adding old routines to keep the show going until the right moment. The wind was so strong that after we came down from the stage (soaking wet) we had to stake down the rear wheels of the T to keep it from tipping over...the canvas backdrops were acting as a sail! We had some of our stock ruined and it was hard on our props and instruments...but it was really worth it, and people talked about that event for years.

 

That was a nine day show and we did three shows a day. I think we did that for about five years in a row. We really made a lot of money there, as we charged $1000 a day for performing and easily $500 a day in sales. The other people there were selling Pennsylvania Dutch crafts and were juried in, had to pay to be there and paid a percentage to the Festival office. We were the only ones with a contract...and never paid a percentage. We were the only real traveling medicine show selling its own product. It was enjoyed by kids and adults...a rare show then and now.

 

 


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