Green the Magician

A good many years before television came to our district, numerous traveling entertainers visited our community hall and performed be-fore our audiences. Some were worthy of mention, while others were of the mediocre variety.

One entertainer I remember well, and one who was in a class all by himself, was a man who went by the title of "Green - the Magician." John Green was small in stature and in his late seventies when he first visited Elk Point during the middle 1940s. He always performed before sellout crowds and always put on an outstanding show. As a rule, if you didn't arrive at the hall early, you stood a chance of not being seated.

Green always traveled by train and usually brought about ten large trunks with him. They contained his costumes as well as other paraphernalia needed for his show. His magical performance always lasted a full two hours and was made up of a variety of acts which kept the large audience fascinated and spellbound throughout the entire evening.

Green always started his show off by asking for a high school boy to volunteer his services as a helper. One of his early acts was to pull a number of links of what appeared to be sausage from the volunteer's midsection. An-other was pulling a silk handkerchief from behind the boy's ear. Green always wore a green top hat 'which he carefully exposed to the crowd. He would then extract a white dove from it or make one disappear. During another act, he placed a dove in a square box and closed the lid. Upon reopening the lid a moment later, the dove no longer would be there. His most popular act was to make his helper lay in a long flat box. He then sawed through the middle of it with a band saw-Everyone in the audience thought his boy helper was going to end up in two pieces. However that was not the case. This act proved to be an illusion, but it sure fooled the audience. His acts were many and varied and the large crowd in attendance seemed to enjoy every minute of it.

Green made one trip each year for about five years to perform before the people of Elk Point and district. As the operator of our local hall, I got to know him quite well. He was a very reserved type of person, one who never gave anyone a hint as to his past life. Most of the time he appeared to be sad and seldom did he smile. During his performance he seemed to take a leaf out of W.C. Field's book ,Green, as well as W.C. Fields (a Hollywood comedian) always made out they disliked children and they both opened their shows by verbally blasting the children in attendance-During the rest of the show the children were a well behaved lot.

Green did have one bad habit I did not approve of -h that of smoking about ten strong smelling cigars while -waiting for the show to begin. During this time he was continually spitting out small -parts of his cigar on my floor. l tried to cure him of this habit by providing him with a -homemade spittoon which be used, but only managed to hit about half of the time. As a result, I was continually mopping up after him. As Green provided me with my year's best income (25 percent of all the ticket sales) I had to be careful not to offend him for fear of losing his business.

Nothing further was heard of Green after his 1949 show. Later I heard he had died. I also learned something of his past life. Apparently prior to hitting the smaller circuits, he was a well-known magician who performed in many major cities in both the United States and Canada. When he reached his early seventies he began to slow down and could no longer perform effectively in the large professional circuits. He then reverted to a less demanding audience by playing in smaller situations. Although he was judged past his prime when he visited Elk Point, he was still something to see. Undoubtedly he was one of the best entertainers to ever perform in Elk Point.

In later years, other itinerant magicians tried to follow Green's footsteps but they all badly failed - none could compare with him. I remember one magician who performed here in the early 1950s. His performance was so poor that in no time he was heckled by the crowd - some demanded their money back while others threatened to run him out of town. Needless to say, he never returned to Elk Point for a command performance.

It has been 45 years since Green - the Magician performed in Elk Point. Even after all those years, I can still see Green sitting on a bench smoking cigar after cigar. waiting for his evening show to begin.