Michael Fedo

A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows

by Henry Wood, as told to Michael Fedo


"This little paperback holds the reminiscences of Henry Wood, who left his hometown of Viroqua, Wis. To spend 1910-1941 traveling with medicine and tent shows. The likable Wood is brought to readers thanks to Fedo, his grandson-in-law. . . . Wood recalls how he transformed from a farm kid to a well-dressed man who wasn’t even recognized by his mother and father when he went home for a visit. One of his funniest memories is of how actors who played villains had to stay at hotels outside the city where they were performing because audiences didn't distinguish between the men and the part he was playing, and actors were beat up for pretending to be bad guys. . . . How fortunate that Fedo took the time to write down (Wood’s) memories of an almost-forgotten period in the history of entertainment."--St. Paul Pioneer Press

"This is a true accounting of a young Wisconsin boy who ran away to join show biz at age 12. This happened over 100 years ago, and his recollections are quaint, sweet, and just right for historians and anybody who wants a peek at life so long ago." --Savannah Morning News

"A Sawdust Heart is a gift from Michael Fedo, who has a talent for recognizing the need to document significant moments in history. (He also wrote The Lynchings in Duluth) . . . this respectful and smoothly-rendered transcription is storytelling at its best." --Duluth News Tribune

"Henry Wood’s as-told-to memoir recalls three anecdote-rich decades in the life of a performer and director in old-time medicine shows and vaudeville, beginning in 1910 when the young Wisconsinite was 12 years old. Wood’s story, skillfully told by his grandson-in-law Michael Fedo, offers a glimpse into an earlier entertainment era when isolated rural Americans welcomed the diversion of a traveling theater troupe." --Minnesota History Magazine

It's a special thing to say of a book after reading, "That was much too short." . . . Priceless is too trivial a word to use in this case. Performing Arts Archive

Selected Works

"This slender volume is an exercise in humor writing of a kind one rarely finds these days." Omaha World-Herald. From the beginning the book is chock full of laughs and chuckles, which I attribute to Fedo's gifted creativity in his use of words and word pictures." Star Astrologer Books 5 Stars "This book is non-stop laughs!" Huntress Reviews "(Fedo) has written a madcap honey." Dave Wood, syndicated book columnist "(Fedo) has a sharp eye for humor and parody. . . . He gives us a number of comical debacles, amnd some wonderfjul Dickensian caricature." Whistling Shade
"A memoir, with a smattering of local history, Fedo’s collection will engage any reader with his fond and frank reminiscences of family life combined with vivid recollections of his native Duluth as it once was and, in many ways, still is. Thoroughly enjoyable." -- Jim Heffernan, author of Cooler Near the Lake: Fifty-two Favorites from Thirty-four Years of Deadlines
by Henry Wood, as told to Michael Fedo
A glimpse into a forgotten era of popular entertainment.
The story of the June 15, 1920 lynching of three black men in Duluth, Minnesota.

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