An Unusual Experience

By Charles Hook

Many years ago I was one of a groups of entertainers who went into Old Long Island City to entertain a group of underprivileged children. As the children arrived (mostly boys), there was no youthful buoyancy.  And the eyes of some of these boys drew my attention...their piercing eyes were not those of expectant childhood.  Rather, they were the eyes of the streetwise who trusted none.  The social worker told us that many were children of alcoholic parents, many of the children poorly fed.

The entertainment was staged in a long room without stage or platform.  The entertainment area was well lighted, but the audience area, with front row a considerable distance away, was clothed in darkness.  As I appeared with the figures and they started to talk, the faces of the boys who occupied the front rows were a study; with open mouths and an uncomprehendingly look of amazement on their faces.  It appeared few of them had ever seen a ventriloquist or understood what they were.

There was no laughter as they listened to the remarks of the figure.  Absorbed in the dialogue, I did not at first see that the boys in the front row had left their seats and were slowing advancing across the open spaces, crouched on their hands and knees.  But it was their eyes that glittered out of the dark that made me apprehensive.  Focused on the figure alone, there was almost a feline glare, as a cat stalking her prey. 

I was using a pugilistic-looking Irish boy, and as they advanced I had him seemingly spring out, and in their own tough vernacular, snarl or shout, "Get out of here!"   The tension was broken and amidst the laughter of their comrades the startled boys shuffled back to their seats.  After that the laughs came easy.

Whenever I read of hunters sitting around a campfire, looking into the darkness and seeing the glittering eyes of the denizen of the wild, I cannot help but recall the eyes and the attitudes of these wolf-ish boys as they approached out of the darkness!
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Condensed from ventriloquist Hook's article by the same name which was published in the Vent-O-Gram, January, 1964.  Other features in that issue were by Walter Berlin, Fred Ketch, Ken Greenhouse, Gregory Berlin, Howard Paine and Peter Rich.  Plus a Vent Routine by I. V. Norman who also wrote a tribute to President John F. Kennedy whose picture made up the cover of this issue.  13 pages printed on one side, 8.5. x 11", (plus cover.)  This rare  vintage newsletter (good condition) is now listed for eBay auction:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290661828839

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