The special train which is run generally from Carleton Place connecting the Ottawa and Perth trains, arrives in Almonte at 1:30pm. On leaving town the train goes at 7 or 7:30pm, so that the majority that come never see the town or leave one solitary cent, only what they paid to the society for admission.
They have lunch before they come and arrive home just In time for supper. The admission to the grounds is 25 cents, which is twice too much. The poor farmer, which this society professed to befriend and encourage, sees but little for his hard-earned 25 cents.
He cannot, bring his wife and eight or nine children, for that means a week’s hard earnings. The mechanic in town finds nothing in his line of business, the artist but little-in his. In fact, the money of Almonte, which could be put to better use than granting to the N. L. A. S. Fair, unless they make a public statement and show their indebtedness, should be carefully guarded. Even if Almonte saw the need of such a grant, let a councillor ask it Independently of a society director.
15 Sep 1897, Wed
THE BARRETTS- -I worked with Harry “POP” Barrett for a period of four weeks in the year of 1908. Somehow or other I didn’t fit in Harry’s act and was let out after four weeks, three of them having been spent in rehearsals. Harry Barrett if still living–and I hope he is–was a fine old juggler. He started off his career as a club juggler. Club jugglers of that day did not do the routines presented at a later date. In those days it seems that swinging clubs was in vogue and after a few deft moves with the swinging clubs he would go into a routine with one club, snaking it through the arms over the back and around the neck, from that he would go into a two club routine duplicating the same moves only with two instead of one club. His clubs for this routine were made somewhat like the present day clubs except that they were much heavier and the butt ends were bell shaped, the bell bottoms taking to some extent the place of the knobs on the handle end. Many of the intricate moves of snaking the clubs were done by grasping the butt ends, necessitating the bell bottoms. Someone at that time thought up the idea of juggling three clubs. Undoubtedly it was considered at that time to be sensational. Harry and his brother Joe did a two man juggling act. Later, Harry’s son Charles joined the act -making it a trio. While playing an amusement park date at Syracuse, N.Y., Pop bought a cheap straw hat such as farmers used in that period. While back stage he idly tossed the hat in the air. He noticed a tendency of the hat to return to him boomerang fashion. In the course of his act that day without any practice Pop tried out the stunt on his audience. They were amused and encouraged him. The stunt became a principal part of Pop’s act from that time on. After many months of trial and error he developed numerous tricks new to the juggling field. A good many of the tricks must be given credit where credit was due. Pop had a habit of changing partners quite often, these partners were instrumental in developing new tricks for Harry’s act. I believe
Moran and Wiser worked with Barrett and if I’m wrong forgive me. To the best of my recollection Moran and Wiser developed the spinning hats for which they are still famous. Spinning the hats was done by placing the index finger in the inner rim of the hat– where the sweat band is –and tossing them boomerang fashion over the head of the audience and returning to the fingers again. After all these years it is still something to see.
Jim Baggett of The Elgins was a partner of the Barretts and also contributed his share of hat tricks. There are many ways of juggling straw hats and while Barrett was the first one to use them in a juggling act, Moran and Wiser set the fashion in hat spinning, THE HARDDIGS, now deceased, invented the head to head passing of hats tossing them to each other in a forward and flat motion to each other’s head and lighting there, being off with the left hand and passed to the right and then to the partner again. A very fine applause getter and good for laughs. Frear, Baggett and Frear also used hats in their baseball act. The Dewey Bros. To the best of my knowledge were the first to use derby hats as means of getting tricks out of them, using them in somewhat the same manner as straw hats.
Well someone had to start the ball rolling, and some one did originate this and that trick and bits of comedy.
But each trick -and each bit of comedy has been suggested by someone or something that has been done before by someone else. In other words, one idea suggests another, and presto- A new baby is born- perhaps twins. I think it little behooves any of us to say, “That fellow stole my stuff. I originated that trick or piece of business. Wait till I see him”. And it may be that you did originate that trick. So what? Are you not using some trick originated by someone else also? So, steady boys, think back— where did you get your original idea?
Getting back to Pop Barrett. Pop used to have a happy time in telling of the jumps of his day. After working in a Wine room – equivalent to our present day nightclubs – for four or five weeks of months at maybe fifteen dollars a week, he would jump to Syracuse, do the same stunt there for a few weeks, then to Chicago, and then San Francisco. After playing Frisco they would hop a freight back East, lay around till all the money was gone, go to work making cigars, getting tired of that they would get the act ready again and repeat the same routine. Great stuff, sez I.
Prize for a farmers daughters pie..:)