BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


Joe Taylor, barnstormer

by Justus Hurd Taylor

Excerpt:

LOST IN SNOW STORM.

Morrell & Burk, two enterprising young managers, who claimed to have a fine Company of high grade artists, engaged me to travel with what was known as Morrell & Burk's Digarion Views. These gentlemen came to me with such tempting offers and vivid descriptions of their past triumphs, that I yielded to their offer to join them. Their first stand was Groton Junction. We performed there to a good house, but the show was bad, very bad snide. There was trouble among the performers. Dick Dalton, who was several years my senior, advised me to go with him, and walk home, a distance of forty miles; a pretty good walk for one of my age. I willingly accepted the stunt, as I was quite disgusted with the whole outfit. We started early the next morning after a hearty breakfast, and as the air was cold and bracing, we were making good time until a snow storm caught us, and in less than an hour it was so severe that we were bewildered and lost. I became chilled, and begged of Dalton to be left alone, as I was sleepy. Dalton proved himself a man, as he refused to leave me; but instead he stood by me, and giving me a good whipping, aroused me to the sense of danger that we were in. Night had come and the storm was increasing in violence, when in the distance we saw a light. This gave us renewed strength, hope and energy. I was completely exhausted, and had refused to go another step, just before he discovered the light. On our reaching the house, which proved to be a hotel, Dalton said, "Give this boy something hot at once, or he will die." I received the glass and drank the contents without asking any questions. I soon revived, and the next day we arrived safely at home with a renewed vow on my part never, never again to embark in show business. This determination was as easily broken as that of a sailor, who has just been rescued from a shipwreck, never again to go to sea. After a few days' rest at home Morrell came to me with an apology, and an explanation as to the cause of the trouble. Burk had pocketed the receipts and vanished. This of course exonerated Morrell from all blame. He assured me that he now had a Company that was good enough for any city, and he actually led me to believe that this would be the very best opportunity ever offered for me to make a great name

and good money. He mentioned the names of several well known artists whom he had secured. Prominent among them was "Yankee Scott," who, he claimed was the greatest of them all. Up to this time, 1847, I was an innocent boy and could not believe there was any such a thing as deception. I asked Morrell when the Company would be brought together, and where would be our first stand? He replied that we would perform on the coming Saturday night at Milton, Lower Falls, as I recall it, altho it may be what is now known as Newton, Lower Falls. We made an early start in a two-horse open wagon. Three young men, whom I had neither heard of nor had I seen before until we got in and made our start, were introduced. But as Scott's name was not mentioned I asked for him, and was assured by Morrell that Scott would be there; "But," said Morrell, "should he fail to put in an appearance, I can go on and do his act, as I have his wardrobe." My eyes began to open to the fact that there was something wrong, and trouble ahead. So strongly was I impressed that I asked to be allowed to go on first and sing my ballad. This request was granted, which to me was a great relief, as I was sure there would be "something doing" that was not on the program.

After my singing, I was told to go to the first landing, where the stairs turned, and sell tickets. I was given a chair and table, and had been there long enough to take in, with what was given me for change, eighteen dollars, when I heard a terrific commotion in the hall. What with men swearing, and women screaming, and the noise of benches and chairs tumbled about, I was so frightened that I made a hasty exit and did not reappear until the next morning, when I heard that Morrell had gotten into Scott's togs and attempted to tell a Yankee story, but failed.

In my hurried exit I had left my overcoat in the dressing-room. My temperature did not require it, but I had the cash, which I handed to Morrell. This bunch of bright particular stars were never again seen in a cluster. I had lost my confidence, my reputation, my patience and my overcoat, and I firmly resolved to retire forever.

After a few years at school in Charlestown, I was made a member of the Bunker Hill Glee Club, all fine young fellows, whose voices harmonized beautifully. I had been with them several months when officers and members of Hancock Fire Company induced me to come in as a member, as they were about to make an excursion to Providence, R. I., where they were to be received by Gaspee, No. 9 of Providence. This was in 1849. I gladly accepted the offer and became a fireman, and wore a uniform. I was highly complimented for my singing at the banquet given at the "Earl House," in Providence, when the mayor and other city officials were present, after which I was offered, and I accepted, a situation in a jewelry establishment by Mr. Spooner, and was allowed a journeyman's wages, even while I was an apprentice. After several months in his employ I found my health was failing, and I therefore gave notice that I must leave him. "Haven't you been treated well?" he asked. "I could not be treated better, Mr. Spooner, but I must be out of doors," was my reply.

While in Newport, a swell-looking fellow, with an immense mustache, wearing a velvet coat and vest and an enormous watch chain, came and offered to engage me to play under canvas. Upon inquiry, I found he had on exhibition an eight-legged calf. I refused his offer.


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