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By Dan Beard

I have seen some wonderful shooting with a putty-blower in New York City, and I recall one very amusing incident.  

I was returning from luncheon and had reached Broadway when my attention was attracted by a crowd.  I found a fakir in the middle of the crowd.  He opened his big mouth to shout his wares, then suddenly began to splutter, and finally spat a clay pellet out of his mouth.  After the pellet came emphatic words and phrases that amused the crowd, but did not tend to elevate their morals.  It was odd, and I laughed heartily, which so angered the fellow that he accused me of filling his mouth with mud. 

No one in the crowd knew what on earth was the matter with the man, or where the clay came from; many evidently thought it was part of the program.  At that moment I caught sight of the laughing countenance of Mr. W. Hamilton Gibson, the well-known artist,  in a window on the opposite side of the street.  Knowing him very well, it was not difficult for me to imagine where the clay came from.  As if for the purpose of dispelling all doubts in my mind, the mischievous fellow put a long glass tube to his mouth, and the next instant a piece of blue clay flattened itself on the fakir's hand.  The street peddler was now in a towering rage, and I saw that he was looking over the crowd for me.  Being peaceably inclined, I quietly left.

Great Skill with a Blowgun

Mr. Gibson, was exceedingly skilful with a blowgun.  Twice I have seen him, using a common glass blowgun, on the top of a five-story building, put a pellet into the mouth of a fakir on the sidewalk opposite.  His good marksmanship, you may be sure, kept the corners around that building clear of street fakirs.  

Years ago the Indians inhabiting the banks of the Mississippi River manufactured beautiful blowguns from the stalks of cane that grows in the cane-brake along the shore.  These toys were taken to New Orleans and other cities by the aborigines and sold to the boys.   Unless the art of making them has been preserved by the Negroes of that section there are probably none to be had now, but the long glass tubes, such as are used by the artist, and the common tin putty-shooter can be purchased.  

From the World's Fair I secured two beautiful blowguns made in Java, and a few split bamboo arrows.  Each of these arrows had a lump of loose raw cotton on the rear end, big enough to fill the blowgun so that it might be expelled by a smart puff of air from the marksman's lungs.  Anxious to see how they worked, I set up an old high hat and the first arrow pierced it to the cotton butt.  If you use arrows in the place of clay or putty, you can derive plenty of amusement and sport, and develop remarkable skill by shooting at a target.

OHB

 

 

   

 

 


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Last modified: October 15, 2016.