The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » If right you win, if wrong you lose... » » One man's account of Soapy Smith (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

mota
View Profile
Inner circle
1663 Posts

Profile of mota
I was reading an interesting book about a doctor who did medicine shows late 1800's-early 1900's, then became a licensed doctor who did house calls for forty four years. The book is "Medicine Man" by Owen Tully Straton, edited by Owen S. Straton.

The book is the result of the son's (the editor) compiling notes his father made while doing medicine shows and practicing medicine during this time in history.

I was surprised when reading the glossary at the end of the book he related his experience with Soapy Smith and the shell game in Skagway, Alaska. It is on page 241, under the heading "Shell game". The rest of this post is what is in the glossary...punctuation is as in the book. Enjoy...

"In a 1949 letter my father wrote, "A shell game was worked with half of three English walnut shells lined with putty to make the insides smooth so the pea would roll out easy. Actually, it wasn't a pea at all but a small ball made out of soft rubber. A sucker bet that the pea was under a certain shell and won if the pea was there and lost if it wasn't. In the game's most deadly form, a booster or shill among the onlookers would pretend to surreptitiously remove a pea from under a shell, press it in the hand of a sucker, and whisper to the sucker, 'Bet him that it isn't under any of them.' If the sucker made the bet, the shellman would tell him to pick up the shells himself. Low and behold, there would be the pea the sucker though he had in his hand.

"In Skagway in 1897 a highbinder called Soapy Smith was the brains of as tough a gang of goons as ever came down the pike. They had a saloon named The Klondike in which they operated all the sure-thing games known to wolves. When an incoming steamship announced its arrival by a blast from its whistle, Soapy's henchmen would yell, 'Fresh Fish!' and head for the landing, where they would pose as a welcoming committee and try to steer the new arrivals into their trap.

"They also ran shell games on both the Skagway and Dyea trails. One day when I was hiking from the foot of the trail to Skagway, I saw one of those shell games operating on the wagon road. The shellman was a big Irishman named Dan Daley. He had his little table set up in about four inches of snow, and the boosters all carried dummy packs on their backs.

"I halted to see how they worked, believing that with my whiskers and mackinaw clothing I looked like any come-on. It seemed, however, that I didn't, because I hadn't stood there for more than a few minutes when Mr. Daley looked up and advised, 'Better run along and peddle your papers, young fellow. You can't make any money around here.' I, not hankering for a punch in the nose, took his advice and moved on."
Soapy Smith
View Profile
New user
71 Posts

Profile of Soapy Smith
Wow, Mota.

This is brand new information to me. Hope you don't mind me posting the info on my Soapy Smith Soap Box blog, giving you and The Magic Café credit of course.

The information contained in Medicine Man is very comparable to the information in my own book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel. The Klondike Saloon was indeed one of three known dens operated in part by the Soap Gang. The shell man "Dan Daley" is no doubt Bill Daily, one of Soapy's partners. It was reported by Daily's (and Soapy's) friend, Bat Masterson, that Soapy, Daily and another partner cleared nearly $30,000 in less than a month on their first trip to Skagway.
mota
View Profile
Inner circle
1663 Posts

Profile of mota
Happy you could use it. I was surprised to see it. I had finished the book and was just going through the glossary for fun when it popped up.

You might consider giving Whit's site some credit too...it is where I saw the Medicine Show book mentioned.

Your work on Soapy Smith is impressive and clearly a labor of love. It is a very nice thing to see.
Soapy Smith
View Profile
New user
71 Posts

Profile of Soapy Smith
Thank you.
RicHeka
View Profile
Inner circle
3842 Posts

Profile of RicHeka
In the pictorial book...'The great American Bars and Saloons' by Kathy Weiser there are a couple of photos of one of Soapy Smiths saloons in Skagway AK 'Jeff Smiths Parlor'. In one photo Soapy is shown standing at his bar 'drink in hand' and a bunch of his customers standing behind him.

In the other,there is a beautifil outdoor photo showing the saloon at the base of huge mountain peaks.A group of abot a dozen men are standing outside on a wooden boardwalk.There are several American flags adorning the establishment,and a sign nearby that says: 'Little Egypt tonight' Smile
circa 1890's

Now I must also get a copy of 'Medicine Man'.

Sounds Great! Thanks guys.

P.S. Soapy...I look forward to checking out you blog later. Smile

Rich
Soapy Smith
View Profile
New user
71 Posts

Profile of Soapy Smith
Hi, Rich.

There are 3 known photographs of Soapy standing at his bar in 1898. The wall decor clearly indicates they were taken on different dates. The "customers standing behind him" include Soap Gang members, "Rev" John Bowers, "Old Man Trip," and a few others. "Jeff Smiths Parlor" still stands, and is currently undergoing restoration by the National Park Service.

The beautiful outdoor photo showing the saloon, with a group of men standing outside on the boardwalk are in a line, waiting to sign up for Soapy's private army, The Skaguay Military Company, at the start of the Spanish-American War (probably May 1, 1898). Soapy was very patriotic. Every photo known to exist of his saloons throughout the U.S. had at least one American flag on it.

My book contains the above photographs and one of a Klondike trail shell man in operation. There are 54 photos total.

Jeff
RicHeka
View Profile
Inner circle
3842 Posts

Profile of RicHeka
Quote:
On 2010-05-18 13:59, Soapy Smith wrote:
Hi, Rich.

There are 3 known photographs of Soapy standing at his bar in 1898. The wall decor clearly indicates they were taken on different dates. The "customers standing behind him" include Soap Gang members, "Rev" John Bowers, "Old Man Trip," and a few others. "Jeff Smiths Parlor" still stands, and is currently undergoing restoration by the National Park Service.

The beautiful outdoor photo showing the saloon, with a group of men standing outside on the boardwalk are in a line, waiting to sign up for Soapy's private army, The Skaguay Military Company, at the start of the Spanish-American War (probably May 1, 1898). Soapy was very patriotic. Every photo known to exist of his saloons throughout the U.S. had at least one American flag on it.

My book contains the above photographs and one of a Klondike trail shell man in operation. There are 54 photos total.

Jeff

Thank-you for the reply Jeff!

Your blog is superb.I shall revisit often.

I look forward to adding your book 'Alias Soapy Smith' to my modest 'Old West' library.

When I am not reading Magic related material,I always love to get pleasantly lost reading about life in the Old West.

I have alway's felt a strange connection to life in the second half of the 19th century...almost deja vu like.

Jeff do you know of any accounts of 'Fast and Loose' being played during the 'Old West' era?

Also,can you tell me the easiest way to order the book via paypal?

P.S.I shuddered when I reread my previous post with the misspelling's.I must remember to wear my reading glasses when typing. Smile

Rich
Soapy Smith
View Profile
New user
71 Posts

Profile of Soapy Smith
Thank you for the kind words Rich. Considering bunco men used 'magic' tricks to obtain their living my book is much more than an 'Old West' book, although that is the period that everything takes place. There is enough 'magic' operation to satisfy historians interested in that field, as well as the criminal psychologists.

I personally have never run into anything on 'Fast and Loose' in my research.

Without making a sales link here on the Café I will say that all the sites listed below my name have links to my publisher. Just tell him that you wish to pay via PayPal. It's a big book of 650 pages so I'll give you a day or two to read it and then would like to hear from you about it.
RicHeka
View Profile
Inner circle
3842 Posts

Profile of RicHeka
Jeff:I received my copy of your book 'Alias Soapy Smith' today. Smile

Wow! What a monumental work.I cannot put it down...No joke. I am going to have to discipline myself in the coming days....so I can get other things done.

Let me just say this.If any members here are interested in the Old West,the way it REALLY was,and a 'super' well documented account of the life of a true old time bunco artist,saloon owner....who also was a complex human being with many sides [good and bad]...THIS IS IT!

And get this,I am only up to page 92 of 650 !!!.Yes,that is not a mis-type 600 + pages!!!

Jeff,how you can almost give this huge tome away for under $30 is beyond me.

Jeff,I am truly impressed by the dedication you put into this work.I can easily understand why it took 25 years to complete.

Oh yes....the wonderful historical photo's and letters etc. really slow me down because I like to peruse them with a magnifying lens.That's OK...for me it's the closest thing to stepping into a time machine.
Congratulations Jeff!

Happy trails.
Rich Hennessey
spcarlson
View Profile
Veteran user
Minneapolis MN
317 Posts

Profile of spcarlson
Great looking book I can’t wait to get it.

I am guessing it’s through klondikeresearch.com that orders are placed? I sent an email for further info.
Legendary Creations

from Merlin to Marilyn

www.MagicalArtCreations.com

www.StevenPaulCarlson.com
Jamie D. Grant
View Profile
V.I.P.
as seen in Ripley's Believe It or Not!
2286 Posts

Profile of Jamie D. Grant
Hiya Gang!

I am almost finished Pierre Berton's "Klondike" and it has some amazing chapters dedicated to Soapy. Has anyone else read it?

All my best,

:jdg
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
Kindness takes practice. My TEDx talk
RicHeka
View Profile
Inner circle
3842 Posts

Profile of RicHeka
Quote:
On 2010-06-01 02:03, Jamie D. Grant wrote:
Hiya Gang!

I am almost finished Pierre Berton's "Klondike" and it has some amazing chapters dedicated to Soapy. Has anyone else read it?

All my best,

:jdg


'Klondike' is definitely on my must get list.Thanks Jamie.
I still have 300+ pages to go in 'Alias Soapy Smith' which I am enjoying immensely.

It seems if there ever was what we would call an American 'Robin Hood'...IMO that would be Jefferson Randolph Smith II[Soapy Smith].

Did you know that when the great magician and mentalist Alexander[Claude Alexander Conlin] was a young man in Skaguay AK...he was totally fleeced of his funds by Soapy Smith in the 3 shell game?
Soapy felt bad for the lad...so he recruited him into his gang. Smile

Also by Pierre Berton...'The Klondike Quest' looks amazing with it's many photos from that period.

I just love closely studying the details of old photographs.For me it's the closest thing to a 'Time Machine'.

Rich
Soapy Smith
View Profile
New user
71 Posts

Profile of Soapy Smith
Hi, gang.
I apologize for the delay. I did not receive a notice of your responses.

RICH: Wow, thank you for the very kind words regarding my book. It's comments like that which make all the decades of work worthy. I have received numerous comments like yours, which will be joining the others on the following page; http://www.soapysmith.net/id51.html

Now that you have my book you will want to "follow" my blog as it is an extension of the book. Believe it or not, as thorough as the book is, I am still finding new information on Soapy. One common comment/question I get at book signings is "How did he possibly write all those letters and do everything he did in such a relatively short life?" It is indeed amazing how busy Soapy was. You liked those letters in the book? Well I have over 150 originals and hundreds of copied letters and documents that will eventually make it onto the blog.

You compared Soapy to Robin Hood. Did you ever see, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING? That's a fine example of Soapy's empire goals. One author told my father many years ago that a film made about Soapy Smith would be a combination of THE STING and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID.

SPCARLSON: Yes, Klondikeresearch.com is the url for the book. My publishers name is Art Petersen and he is a pleasure to deal with.

JIMMIE D. GRANT: My father and I both knew Pierre Berton via media communications for the years. His books on the Klondike, although written many many years ago, are still considered to be the best sources for the Klondike gold rush.
spcarlson
View Profile
Veteran user
Minneapolis MN
317 Posts

Profile of spcarlson
Jeff Smith:

Yes, Art was great to deal with and quick too he responded to my email within an hour and my book was on the way. Great service!

Thanks,
Steve
Legendary Creations

from Merlin to Marilyn

www.MagicalArtCreations.com

www.StevenPaulCarlson.com
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » If right you win, if wrong you lose... » » One man's account of Soapy Smith (0 Likes)
<<< Previous Topic Next Topic >>>
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001- 2014 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.264136 seconds, requiring 60 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

[1] [0] [4] [9] [9] [5] [7] [3] [0] [6]