(Image retrieved from Pixabay.com/Barni1)
Born to Mathias and Anna Evans Brown, comedian Joe E. Brown first began to entertain people as an acrobat. Acrobatics, he thought, was what he wanted to work at to help with the family income, but by the time he was seven he’d already become gainfully employed as a newspaper carrier.
Five cents, Joe E. related in his 1956 autobiography, “Laughter is a Wonderful Thing”, bought a carrier ten papers, and he’d make five cents if he sold all ten copies. However, he was disappointed not to earn a profit initially and it was a little while into his first business endeavor that Joe E. realized his first earnings “high”. One day, he sold all ten papers, went back to purchase some more, and smilingly presented his mother with eight cents worth of income.
It was during his paper route one day when a less than discreet individual made fun of his face and large mouth. The insults were hard to ignore, he says, but facts were facts, and he later turned career profits on those disappointing experiences, as well.
Joe E.’s newspaper delivery started with the Toledo Bee, then extended to the Blade. He remembers the week of President William McKinley’s assassination to be a very profitable one, as everyone wanted the latest news while the President clung to life for a week.
While continuing his newspaper routes, he also gathered together a shoeshine kit and began to offer shines. Later, a John Robinson Circus poster attracted his attention and that of his best buddy, Alec Reuben. Alec declared he wanted to be a trapeze artist., and Joe E. went flying through the air in his mind. After absorbing the circus poster and taking imaginary flight, Joe E. was certain that he would find satisfaction in becoming an acrobat.
A first true exposure to the art of acrobatics for Joe E. were the talents of a man named William Ashe, who earned actual pay for his performances. Another friend of Joe E.’s, George Jones, began working with Ashe, which inspired Alec and Joe E. to try to impress George with their nimble cartwheels, handsprings, and to practice back somersaults off a couch on Joe E.’s porch.
“I begged and cried and altogether made such a fuss that they (his parents) finally relented” to letting him talk with Ashe about employment, as long as it didn’t interfere with his school work, Joe E. says in his autobio.
Thus began Joe E. Brown’s first venture into the entertainment business. He would quickly learn that it wouldn’t be an easy field from which a newcomer could hone a livelihood.
I had a much easier route to begin to find satisfaction from the craft I chose by the age of ten. Reading was easy for me, and writing stories was immediately my passion as soon as I learned to put words in a comprehensible order. Storytelling continues to fascinate me to this day.