Stilt Tricks




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By Dan Beard

The long-armed, strapless stilts of the "girl boys" are first-rate for beginners.  The hand-stilts are good all-round walkers, and the gadabouts are the best for the sturdy American boys, because they require sill in their manufacture and use.

They develop just those qualities of ingenuity and pluck that have made us the nation we are.  Remember that you boys of today are the men of tomorrow, and it is to you that we must leave this great country to success or to ruin, according to the faculties you develop now while you are yet boys.

Trick Stilt-Walking

While I was a member of the gymnasium at Cincinnati, the youngsters were intensely interested in a group of professionals, who practiced there during the winter months.  They were mostly circus men, quite gentlemanly sort of men, not at all what people generally suppose circus men to be.

One bald-headed man, of particularly dignified and austere looks and manners, was in the summertime a painted clown of the saw-dust ring.  At a certain hour each day, as regular as a clock, this bald-headed man appeared, and strapped a pair of long stilts to his legs, while we looked on with awe at the dreadful proceeding.  Then he began his practice.  He did not walk, skip, hop, or jump.  He had but one object in view, but one ambition, and that was to do the inebriate act, although he was a man who never used ardent spirits. 

So, for an hour or more each day, he hung on to a rope suspended from the ceiling, and  pretends to become intoxicated while walking on stilts.  All winter the baldheaded man practiced this one act, and the Spring birds had begun to appear before he dared, without keeping firm hold of the rope, to do " the drop," as he called the peculiar limp stagger that he had practiced all winter.  

Since then, when I attend a circus, and the ridiculous clown appears in the ring, and does his part in the clown's off-hand manner, I forget to laugh, for I am lost in wonder, thinking of the constant study, application, and hard work that he must have gone through, in order that we may think him a funny old fool. 

This incident is related to show what practice it takes to acquire skill in difficult feats.  Few boys are willing to devote so much time and thought to learn anything, and certainly not to learn one trick on stilts. 

 Skating on Stilts.

Alfred Moe skates on stilts, doing the inside and outside edges with ease and grace. He cuts a figure 8, and all the various other figures well known to skaters.  Moe began his public career as a roller-skater, and claims to have opened the first roller-skating rinks in this country and in England. He evolved the idea of stilt-skating in 1868, and gave his first performance in St. Louis. 

From my observation of the clown, I am satisfied that the stilt-skater must have done some hard work practicing before he dared appear in public. Such things are novelties, but not suitable to the ordinary boy, who, if he becomes expert enough to run, jump, hop, and skip on his wooden legs, has acquired all the skill that is necessary to enjoy the fun of stilt-walking. 

See Also:

Giant Dance
Japanese Stilts
Shepherd Stilts
Tattooed Stilt Walkers
Other Stilts

More Outdoor Things to Do!







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Giant Dance ] Japanese Stilts ] Other Stilts ] Shepherd Stilts ] [ Stilt Tricks ] Tattooed Stilt Walkers ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.