Salesman for Artificial Leg Concern Dances “Game Leg Trot”

From The Evening Herald, Klamath Falls, Oregon, page 2, 14 December 1916.
Advert HUN 1918By John H. Hearley
United Press Staff Correspondent

ROME, Nov. 15 (By Mail)

“C. C. Swain, a breezy drummer for an artificial limb maker of Washington D.C., had been doing his best to place an order with the hospital committee representing the Italian government. Just as he was on the verge of giving the gentlemen up as bad prospects, in came a most charming black-eyed nurse, and Charlie, taking heart, started all over again for her benefit.

“‘It’s all a question of getting used to it,’ said Swain, ‘See, I can spin around on mine like a top!’ Swain suited the action to the word. For Swain’s best sample was his own left leg.

“Swain unwound every inch of his line of talk. Over the mysterious frowns and restlessness of the committeemen he gave her much unsolicited information. He told her of his climb to the skyscraping dome of St. Peters. If she didn’t believe it, she could ask the guide who had seen his performance and had received his card.

“Afterward, he caught up a chair and danced the “grizzly bear,” gliding gradually into a “hesitation.” He ended his dancing spree with a bit of the “tangi.”

“Apparently amazed and amused at his stunts, the black-eyed nurse made her thanks and disappeared.

“The American salesman, thereupon, turned again to the committee. He met a thundering storm of wrath.

“‘Fool! fool!’ roared the chorus of voices, ‘didn’t you know that was Her Majesty, Helene, Queen of Italy?’

“‘Holy smoke!’ sighed Swain. ‘To think I had a golden opportunity and used it like a nickel-plated one!'”

Queen Elena of Italy in nurse's uniform, 1914-1918


While looking up dance names, I stumbled across this and HAD to share it. A good story. I was a little naughty and didn’t give the full headlines or the opening paragraphs – didn’t want to spoil the joke! They are as follows – clearly spoiler warnings weren’t a thing in 1916.


An image showing the dance called the “Grizzly Bear” is the main image in this Clothes in Books blogpost about my book Edwardian Fashion. Note the idiosyncratic spelling of “tango!” The original article also misspelled HRH’s name. In most cases, where possible, I reproduce spelling errors as printed, unless they are really obviously wrong and need to be corrected for clarification.

The Hungarian advertisement from 1918 (apparently translating as “Are You amputed? Looking for a fine prosthesis?…” and the Italian postcard of Elena in her nurse’s uniform (clearly a bit stunned by Swain’s demonstration!) are both hosted by Wikimedia Commons.


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