ffiie Blaclssmitfx Sa^r his Oliaac© aad
T'hrec thousand pounds a year is an income that many a bishop would not despise, and this, the writer has ascertained, is the salary paid to William Everhart, the "great hoop-roller," at the Tivoli and Oxford Music. Halls. . Everhart is. probably th© best " specialty " juggler since Cmquevalli.
He gives his attention to one specialty only— hoops. With » -strong, sharp twist of the lingers lie keeps a number of wooden hoops rolling rapidly round him, and makes them do things, that hoops never did before. ' They "perform intricate circles on the stage ; crossing and inter-crossing, running through each other .and. chasing each other through his leg's like, mad things. They run up 'his leg, over his head, and down his back, along one extended arm and across his shoulders and over the other arm, and along a tight-rope, and career about almost as if. they had life. . . "The hoops," said Everhart, " are. made of wood — hickory, I believe it is. They are really wooden bicycle rims, which I found to answer my purpose best. I have over sixty of various sizes . and weights, and keep different sets for different purposes ; rolling, bouncing, and so on. With constant use . the hoops wear very thin and one-sided. I have some worn-out ones at home that I.keep as. curiosities, .worn as thin and. sharjp as a razor. When a hoop wears out. I have to rehearse with the new substitute for .days, just as actors do with an understudy, until it goes like the old one. "The hoops also wear out my clothes awfully. . They wear a track along my coat where they run over Jriy. shoulders, so 'that 1 have to keep five suits, (stage costumes) going, in alternate use.
" It looks easy, but you'll be surprised to hear that it's very hard, tiring work keeping so many hoops going at once: I get in . a thorough perspiration in a very few minutes, and the hoops blister my hands and give me corns on any fingers worse than many people get on their feet. You need to be very strong in the wrist and hands for hoop-rolling, and you must have no left hand, s o to speak.
"I lighted on the idea of rolling hoops for a living quite, accidentally, through seeing somebody step ,on the hoop of a broken barrel, which instantly jumped up and rolled away. I determined to try what they could be made to do. It took me a long time to make them do anything. The trick of making a hoop run. up my leg and ohest and down my back I practised for two years, and the run; along my arms and shoulders for eighteen months. Xam teaching the hoops a trick now that I guess will take them five years to learn perfectly, and when I tell you that eight of the hoops' will' jump through each other in mid-air I am only telling you
A LITTLE OE THE 'ACT.'
"I began Efe as a * blacksmith, but, though I had never seen a juggler or a show of any sort-, I was very fond of jugling, and from seven, years of age was always practising and throwing up and catching bits of coal and coke or horseshoes in the smithy, and after a time I gave amateur juggling performances at local emtertaininents. At last-, having, after some years' incessant practising, become a fairly expert juggler, I renounced the smithy and joined a small nigger minstrel troupe, greatly to my parents' dismay. My joining the ' show ' business was to them synonymous with going to the bad, but when I started my hoop-rolling act, and my salary jumped to £20 a week, they began to see that I was on the way to prosperity instead of ruin.
"Later, for a double engagement of sixteen weeks at the New York Theatre and the Casino, I was paid, 350d0l (£7O) per week, and my parents not being well off, I sent them money Jiome_ every week, and bought them presents besides. They were fairly astonished, and, moreover, even rather uneasy ; they had never seen so much money before, and they could scarcely believe I was getting my money honestly.
" J have performed in Paris and Berlin, and before the Kaiser and the late Bang Milan, and later on I go to Carlsbad,"Russia, etc I remain in' London three months longer, my London engagements totalling thirty-six weeks in all. My salary in Europe is generally £60 per week and travelling expenses. For the Tivoli and Oxford halls jointly I am haying £60 per week.
"The hoop act was a terrible sensation in. San Fraaicisco and New* York, and in many other towns there was .
A. PERFECT EPIDEMIC OF HOOP ROLLING. You see people trying it in their gardens, and I got lots of letters asking if I would teach it and how it was done, etc. The result was that I did take a number of peoples at a guinea an hour. One of these was a rich young fellow of about- twenty, and another was an old- stock-broker of sixtyfive. Why he wanted to learn it, goodness knows! Neither succeeded, however. ~
"My cleverest pupil was a- young lady, an orphan, who was trying to keep herself and her two young sisters by typewriting for £1 5s per week. After working hard for ai year or two she became fairly proficient, and she has now jpven. up her' typewriting, and is earning £6 per week hooprolling in a travelling company. I charged her nothing for her lessons, but some time ago she sent me £30, which she insisted on '"my accepting as tuition fees.
"I have had 'hosts of imitators, and it takes me all my time to keep ahead of them. Several of my assistants having familiarised themselves with my performance have left me and started hooprolling on their own account, and though they can. only do quite the simplest tricks are making nice incomes. Three" whom I once paid £2 per week as my ' dressers ' are now hoop-rolling for £700 and £800
"Of course, as fast as my imitators copy my tricks I have to invent new ones. Few people seem to be aware of it, but there's money to be made by the public and waiting to be paid to them for inventing new tricks. New tricks are in grealb demand, and we jugglers are always >on the look-out for them. In every town I have always announced this, and have offered good prices for suitable tricks. If anyone can suggest to me one good idea tor a trick I will willingly pay £10 or £50, or even £100, according to its value. I did get one good notion. A young draper's assistant, an amateur football player, suggested to me by letter a. juggling trick to be performed with two -footballs — Rugby and Association — and I sent him £20 for it.
" Oh, yes, I've had some curious and* varied *xperiences. When performing once in a very rough mining town I borrowed a. diamond bracelet from a lady in the audience, and after apparently pounding it to fragments with a pestle 'and mortar returned it unharmed to the lady with a polite bow. To my surprise she declined it, declaring that I had
SUBSTITUTED A SHAM TRINKET,
and kept hers, which she said was worth £60. She had a pugilist chap wi% her, who supported her claim, and they found a jeweller amongst the audience who pronounced the bracelet to be sham. She demainded 'her own bracelet or £50.' Three or four burly looking, roughs edged their way up near the stage, and things began to look nasty for us. "Not the least embarrassing part was that the amdience evidently supposed the whale thing was a planned and rehearsed affair, and that I should presently produce the genuine bracelet from someone's hat amd deliver it up with a. graceful apology .> Pretty soon, however, tile crowd, got impatient, a beer-bottle was thrown Qn.to'-tne stage, and we could hear a cracking as-. o£ the breaking up of seats. The manager and I had a hasty consultation, and he then came forward and announced his intention of compensating the lady for my 'unfortunate blunder* and would give her the sum she claimed — £50. She and the pugilist came up on to the stage and I handed her a canvas bag containing 250d015. " The audience filed contentedly out and,
I the lady and the pugilist left by the stage exit, where three stalwart constables took charge of them. They had been long wanted for some hotel swindles. As for the I 250d01s I gave her — well, they were dummy coins I had used in some of my tricks, and were about the same value as Jier sham bra-celet. " Another time when due to perform, we discovered that all the. hoops had been left behind at the last to«-n. So I sent in hot hast«. to all the toy shops and coopers' shops in the town and
A VEKY HOUGH ASSORTMENT
arrived, but not having rehearsed with them I decided to supplement the entertainment with other tricks. The hoop act went fairly, except that one hoop bounded over the 'footlights and clung affectionately round the neck of an old gentleman in th© stalls, and I afterwards performed my then novel 'disappearing boy' trick,. in which a boy was put into a hamper and sewn in a wrapper, from which boy and hamper subsequently disappeared. This trick invariably brought down the house. On this occasion I hired a small boy from a womaii for P.s 6d.
■ ." I performed the trick, hamper and boy disappeared as expected, and the audience applauded vociferously. After iihe performance the woman before-mentioned came to the theatre and demanded her boy. Would you. believe it? That boy was nowhere to be found! We hunted high and low, but in vain.; that 'disappearing boy* had disappeared entirely from mortal ken. " The woman was inconsolable. I offered to find her another boy, any kind she liked ; but no, she must have this particular boy. Presently it transpired that the boy wasn't hers at all.' She had borrowed him from 'his another without his mother's knowledge, and what to <&o she didn't know. Ultimately I sent my assistant to break the news of his loss to the boy's mother. On reaching the house 'tihe first thing he saw was the disappeared boy rehearsing before his mother with my disappearing 'hamper, and fastened in the infant's waistcoat was my sixty-guinea testimonial gold watch and chain, which had disappeared with him. " I've always reckoned myself a pretty good juggler, but how that boy disappearedwith my hamper and other property is a mystery I never expect to 6olv«."
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HOOP-ROLLING., Star, Issue 7102, 18 May 1901
HOOP-ROLLING. Star, Issue 7102, 18 May 1901
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