Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

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Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24005Post Bazil
27 Jan 2018, 09:11

LETTERS TO THE MAGAZINE "LONDON LIFE"
1924 — 1941
London Life 1924
(A collection of letters about amputees to the magazine "London Life"...)
London Life, July 26, 1924 pp. 10 and 11
Marvellous Feats Of One-Legged Dancers
Performers who have gained fame despite extraordinary handicaps
Under normal circumstances, dancing would certainly appear an art requiring in its exponents a full complement of limbs. To the ordinary individual the loss of, at least a lower limb, would mean the immediate abandonment of any attempt to acquire proficiency as a dancer, even in the ball room sense of the word, while the idea of aspiring to the heights of exhibition and professional dancing would naturally be dismissed as absurd. Yet there are on record quite a number of cases for men, and even women, who, despite the handicap of loss of limbs, have become as astonishingly expert as to earn their living as dancers and performers on the professional stage.
Donato's exploits
Perhaps the most famous example of this class of performer was Donato, the one-legged dancer, who flourished from about 1850 onwards, appearing both in England and on the Continent with great success. Many of the older generation of playgoers will remember seeing this artist on the stage of the old Aquarium, London, where he made several appearances. At a somewhat later date there appeared, mainly at Continental fairs, a one-legged girl dancer, who claimed to be unique in her line, as no doubt, at that time, she was. She appeared at, among other places, the annual fair at Neuilly, near Paris — a still famous fair, by the way, and was seen there by a Paris journalist, to whom we are indebted for a description of her performance. She was described as young and pretty, appearing on the traditional short "tutu", or frilled, wide-spread skirt of the classical dancer, and "pirouetting with wonderful ease and effortlessness, entirely unsupported save by her single slim leg and foot". Her performance was entirely of the classical, toe-dancing variety, and she had apparently been extremely well trained. There is no record of her having made any appearance in England.
Nimble Jack Joyce
Coming to more modern times, there have been, and are at present, quite a number of one-legged performers before the public. A very popular turn on the American variety stage at the present time is that given by Jack Joyce, a young dancer who lost a leg while fighting with the British forces during the war. Joyce dances in most nimble fashion, both with and without a crutch, and one of his items is a fox-trot danced with a lady partner! In England, a turn that has long been popular is that of Conway and Leland — "The Merry Monopedes" — two male performers who, despite the fact that each has lost a leg, manage to do a great many things that would prove extremely difficult for normal two-legged individuals. It is rather as acrobats and jumpers than as dancers that they excel, but as clever one-legged performers they can quite conveniently be included in this brief survey. A somewhat similar performance is given by the Bistrews, two one-legged French ex-soldiers, who appeared quite recently at the Coliseum and Alhambra Theatres; and another one-legged team, appearing on the halls throughout the country, call themselves the Donatos, no doubt after the famous one-legged dancer mentioned above.
Admired in USA and the continent
It is a notable fact that, though many one-legged male performers have appeared on the English stage at one time or another, one-legged lady performers have never — at any rate, as far as the present writer's information is concerned — appeared before the English public at any time. No doubt English sentiment would be against such a display; and the sight of a pretty girl, maimed in this way, and exposing her infirmity in public, would certainly be displeasing to probably the majority of habituйs of British theatres. But in America and on the Continent the public is apparently not so sensitive. At any rate, lady performers, handicapped in this way, have appeared both in America and on the Continent. Just before the war, one of the most highly-paid and most remarkable contortion acts in American vaudeville was that given by a very beautiful and magnificently formed women whose right leg was completely absent from the trunk. The present writer can vouch for the fact, as he himself saw the lady; and the curious thing was that nobody in the vast and appreciative audience appeared to find anything displeasing in the fact. Rather the contrary. The artist appeared in the usual regulation silk tights worn by all acrobats, a costume that, of course, made only too obvious the complete absence of the missing leg, but she appeared quite unconcerned at this frank exhibition of her deficiency, and certainly seemed to suffer little handicap from her loss.



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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24173Post Bazil
28 Jan 2018, 21:01

A perfect performance
Her balance on her single leg was perfect — the result, no doubt, of long practice — and she moved about the stage whenever necessary, quite easily and, in fact, gracefully, employing either a rapid toe-and-heel shuffle or a long, easy hop, and she presented a very clever and very difficult routine of contortionist tricks with absolute neatness and precision. One of her tricks was a backward bend from the waist, in which, supported only by her single leg, she bent downwards and backwards until she was able, not only to grip her ankle with both hands, but to lift her head and smile at the audience from beneath her bent body! She used no crutches throughout the whole of the act, and at the close she took all her calls, which were many, by simply hopping on and off the stage in response to the continued applause.
Curious Chicago circus dance
A curious dance that was given a few years ago in a Chicago hotel at the close of the season by one of the big American circuses must have been a very interesting affair, according to the report that appeared in a prominent Chicago newspaper the next morning. For not only were the whole of the ordinary circus performers and staff present, but also all the "freaks" from the side-shows. And one of the most charming of the dancers, so went the report, was the "Armless Lady" with the show, a pretty girl of eighteen or nineteen, with whom the newspaper's representative was privileged to dance. Though he found it a strange experience to dance with a lady who had only shoulders visible and no arms with which to clasp him, he fully enjoyed the dance and pronounced the girl one of the most finished and enthusiastic dancers in the room. The writer then went on to tell how he later gave the girl refreshments, and described how daintily and with what fascination she used her toes to convey her food and drink to her mouth; I fancy that this must be a unique case of an armless girl appearing at a public dance, though, of course, the circumstances explain the somewhat extraordinary occurrences.
Germans like freaks
In Germany, the "freak" act has always been encouraged; the theatre-going public of that country apparently having a strong liking for anything strange and abnormal in the way of entertainment. Some years before the war a favourite act, both in Berlin and on the provincial music halls, was that given by two "sisters" — dancers, singers and instrumentalists — each of whom had only one leg. The girls — who, of course, were not sisters, though billed as such — were very clever musicians, playing a variety of instruments, and the dance they specialised in was really a very clever affair. One girl has lost her right leg and the other her left; and, wearing a specially made costume that fitted both as one garment, and interlacing each an arm about the other's waist, thus they gave the impression of a somewhat stout girl with two legs. And thus they danced — after a fashion! This particular part of the act elicited not only great applause, but also roars of laughter, the audience finding the antics of the two crippled girls intensely funny!
Vulgar Teutonic humour
This particular type humour, by the way would appear to be somewhat characteristic of the German mind, as some years ago there used to be a very popular playlet or sketch touring the halls, in which a great deal of hilarity was evoked by the fact of the lover in the sketch discovering, discovering, after a lot of by-play, that his lady-love had an artificial leg. The uproarious mirth increased when, in the course of a struggle between the lovers, the leg was pulled off, leaving the girl — the part played by a one-legged comedienne for whom the sketch had been specially written — to hop round the stage in pursuit of her graceless lover! Another well known act in Germany in pre-war days was an acrobatic act given by a man and a girl each with one leg, and a famous swimming act immediately before the war was that given by a girl billed as a "Living Mermaid", whose performances were given in a huge glass tank. The secret of the girl's wonderful impersonation of a mermaid, tail and all, was simply that she had only one leg, over which she wore a close-fitting and very realistic tail.
Lost limb help her
At the present time, among the many "freak" dancing acts to be seen at private and exclusive night cabaret in Berlin, one of the most sensational is that provided by a beautiful one-legged girl who, in the scantiest of clothing, presents a remarkable series of dances before extremely appreciative audiences. Her dances are mainly of the posing variety, many of them with the leg and foot bare, and she is assisted throughout by a male partner, upon whom she depends a good deal foe support. It is a curious thing that, in the case of this girl, the fact that she is one— legged seems rather a queer kind of asset than otherwise, taken, no doubt, in conjunction with her great beauty. She is seen everywhere — at Society functions, well-known cafйs and cabarets, etc — always clad in most fashionable and daring gowns, her leg usually stockingless, a slim, high heeled sandal slipper that is little more than a sole and a few straps, on her foot and supported by a pair of slender crutches that are as ornate and dainty as it is possible for such things to be. And always she has her court of admirers who, apparently, are in no way repelled by the fact that this beautiful girl is so pathetically crippled by the absence of a lower limb. As for the girl herself, she certainly seems to have discovered that the loss of her leg, far from proving a handicap, has indeed helped her to gain a bizarre kind of fame of which she seems to be quite pardonably proud.



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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24174Post Bazil
28 Jan 2018, 21:03

Dear Sir, — Referring to your article on "One-legged Performers". Following an accident last year, my sister, age nineteen, had her left leg amputated some three or four inches from the hip. Up to that time she took a keen interest in swimming, and was quite a fair, though by means expert, swimmer. Since her loss, though she has missed it badly, she has not attempted to enter the water, feeling dubious as to her safety. Your article has aroused her interest, and she would be grateful if any lady reader of your paper, similarly handicapped or otherwise, would give her any information, or if you could publish an article on the subject. She realises, of course, that the lady mentioned in your article was a trained expert. May I take this opportunity of saying how much we enjoy "London Life" and offer you our congratulations on your magnificent Summer number?
Yours, etc, "Monopede"

London Life, October 4, 1924 p. 14
How To Swim Minus A Limb
Dear Sir, — In response to "Monopede's" request, in a recent issue, for advice in connection with the prospects of his sister, who has lost a leg, being able to resume her swimming, may I be permitted to offer what help I can?
It happens that my wife, whom I married a little under three years ago, has only one leg, her right leg having been amputated when she was only seven years, at about the same distance from the hip as "Miss Monopede's" (if I may be allowed to refer to her under that name), and it is, therefore, probable that her experiences may prove of interest, and it may be useful not only to "Miss Monopede", but to others.
As a swimmer she is quite useful, though not, of course, very expert. She is quite sure that it will be perfectly simple for "Miss Monopede" to resume her swimming, especially as she was able to swim before her amputation. My wife, of course, learnt to swim some years after the loss of her leg, and she says there is little or no difficulty about it. The balance in the water is just as easily maintained, the only difference being that, as a one-legged swimmer can only strike out with one leg, a certain amount of speed is lost.
The real trouble is however, not so much the actual swimming as discovering an ideal place in which to swim! A one-legged girl is not in the same position as an ordinary individual as far as swimming is concerned. Mixed bathing in a swimming bath will usually be quite out of question, while even on ladies' days a sensitive girl so handicapped will not find the very marked, and often extremely inquisitive, attention of the other ladies very welcome. Bathing at ordinary popular seaside resorts is also more or less ruled out. The sight of a one-legged girl in bathing or swimming costume on a crowded beach would provide too much of a sensation to make the venture pleasurable.
My wife, in the circumstances, can therefore only recommend "Miss Monopede" to follow her own practice in this respect, and that is, for swimming in London, to frequent only one particular bath, where after a while one is taken more or less for granted; to go only in the mornings when the baths are not so well patronized; and always, of course, during hours reserved for ladies. It is also a good thing to be accompanied by a girlfriend who is a good swimmer, in case of accidents.
As regards sea-bathing, the best thing to do is to follow the practice of avoiding the popular crowded resorts and going for holiday to secluded spots on the coast. As a matter of fact we have only just returned from Cornwall, where, with a small party of friends, we had a splendid time, occupying most of our time in bathing. The numerous sheltered coves, with the fine stretches of sand, near where we stayed, provided as much privacy as we could anywhere, though, of course, we were not the only party using them. But though there were quite a few openly curious people, both men and women, about, there was, naturally, nothing like the publicity of a popular seaside beach; and anyhow, publicity never worries my wife if she were merely thinking of herself. Her friends are really more concerned than she is!
For the beach she always wears an ordinary, regulation swimming costume, usually of blue silk with scarlet facings, fitting skin-tight to her very shapely figure; a scarlet cap and a close-fitting bathing slipper, also of scarlet, completing the costume. Her arms and leg are thus left bare from shoulder and hip, but at the right hip the silk of the costume is extended to form a sort of pocket, which fits the stump of the absent leg tightly and smoothly.
I have frequently overheard criticisms of this mode of costume, the opinion being that at least a skirt should be worn with it. But as my wife is a keen swimmer, she sees not the slightest reason why she should not wear a swimming costume merely because she happens to have only one leg. But she agrees that if "Miss Monopede" is at all sensitive it might be as well for her to adopt a skirt with her costume when bathing, even in secluded spots by the seaside.
My wife, by the way, never attempts to enter the water by herself, as that would be much too difficult a task, unless there are diving facilities. So usually I, or a friend, carry her in and out of the water whenever required. And I see to it that there is always somebody with her whenever she is in the water. Yours faithfully,
"Unijambiste".



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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24175Post Bazil
28 Jan 2018, 21:07

London Life August 18, 1928 p. 27
"I've Made Life A Game," Says A One-Legged Girl
Dear Sir, — I am sure this will be of great interest to your one-legged readers, for I am sure there must be a good number of them.
I should like to make a request that you publish from time to time articles and stories concerning one-legged girls and high heels.
Both these subjects appear to be very intriguing. I feel rather cattish, as I did not reply to the appeal of your correspondent of April last, when she asked for letters from one-legged girls, but I am trying to make amends by sending this epistle now, saying that I have only one leg and that I also wear an extra high heel for comfort as well as appearance.
My right leg was amputated five years ago, when I was thirteen years old, since then I have tried all means of making life one long game; and I think I have now succeeded. I tried the use of crutches, but these are altogether unwieldy things for a girl, besides which they rob one of the full use of one's hands. I then bought an artificial leg, but this did not satisfy me, as every time I walked it kept click, clicking, and this got on my nerves. Besides this, what made me finally to discard it was the fact that I could not wear a high-heeled shoe on my artificial leg, as it looked to clumsy. At last I decided to try a delicately shaped wooden leg, and I am still wearing one today. With this type of leg I can get about to my hearts content, and at the same time wear a heel to any height.
My last purchase in terms of footwear was an over-knee boot with a 6 inch Spanish-Louis heel from the makers who advertise in your paper. This boot is in black glacй kid, with a white heel, and when worn with a white enamelled wooden leg and a black and white costume is ideal for wet weather and looks charming.
I could keep on for ever at this rate but your space is valuable, so I will close by expressing the hope that you will occasionally publish a story or articles on one-legged girls, and wish Heaven-speed to your High Heel Number as requested by one of your readers.
Yours truly, High-Heeled Monopede

London Life August 18, 1928 p. 26
One-Legged Girl's Tribute To "London Life"
Dear sir, — I was very pleased to read in your last issue of the ever— popular "London Life" that the Summer number will contain a story about a one-legged girl. I am sure this will be a pleasing feature. I am very interested in the acts of girls who have only one leg, as I am one of the number.
This is how it came about. Twelve months ago I had an accident when driving my father's car, and I got so damaged that my right arm and left leg had to be amputated.
At first I began to despair. Gone were my visions of happiness when I, a girl of 17, realised that I should have to go about for the rest of my life minus my right arm and left leg.
But since you published in your bright paper a letter from a one-legged girl, telling how she wore a slender wooden leg, and, above all, a very high-heeled shoe, I have done likewise and since then I have delighted in my limblessness.
I used to find it awkward to walk with a crutch, as that required the full use of my hand; but now I wear a wooden leg and get a very thrilling sensation as I improve the daintiness of my walk with a shoe which has a 4 inch heel.
In conclusion, let me thank "One-legged Girl", through your paper, for the joy which she has aided me to obtain.
Hoping to see some features on one-legged girls and high heels in your paper from time to time.
Yours truly, Elsie C.
Location: www.ampulove.net/files/txt/18-8-28.TXT

London Life September 29, 1928 p. 26
Doctor's Account Of A Limbless Beauty
Dear Sir, — Apropos of the clever story and the very many interesting letters about limbless women in recent issues, especially this week's letter by "Hop Crutch", my own unique experiences may be of interest.
My professional life was spent mainly as a ship's doctor, with intervals ashore and for some years now I have been on the retired list. As a young man I happened to strike San Francisco, and taking a liking to the city I stayed on for a number of years, getting valuable experience as an assistant to a well known and very busy general practitioner. For some time I stayed at a small but very good hotel upon the heights. And very soon became interested, like everyone else in the hotel, by the bye, in a beautiful young lady, of about twenty-six or seven, a resident of the hotel and who had a little suite to herself.
She was a pathetic case for she was completely paralysed in all four limbs. She was quite helpless and spent her time on her couch or in her bath— chair, being looked after by her own maid who did everything for her.
I got to know her a little more intimately than the majority of the guests, as I did several small services of a medical nature for her and now and then was invited to her sitting room. The pathetic part was that helpless though she was, she was always at pains to appear beautifully dressed in the graceful flowing draperies of the time and she was coquettish enough to allow her surprisingly small and weak feet in very dainty slippers to show as she laid practically immobile except for her head, on her couch.
Another curious thing was that she always wore long kid gloves indoors and out. No doubt to hide the poor paralysed hands, and a voluminous silk shawl also helped to hide her useless arms and hands. Apart from her sensitiveness about her condition, she was a very charming woman, often when she got to know you, quite gay and cheerful.
She allowed no one to touch her, however, except her maid. I only once offered to carry her to her bath-chair but she was so obviously distressed and alarmed that I never made the suggestion again.
But one night, however, I was suddenly awakened by her maid who asked me to come at once to her mistress as she had been taken suddenly ill. I hurried to her bedroom and found her only half-conscious and in great pain, which, by the bye arose from acute indigestion and which I was able to relieve almost immediately.
But I think I got the greatest shock of my life that night, for the woman I had thought paralysed lay in bed only the mere trunk of a woman, completely without either arms nor legs! The arms were entirely absent from the shoulders and she had only short thigh stumps a few inches in length.
Otherwise she was perfectly, in fact, beautifully formed. Her paralysis had, of course, been what we should now call "camouflage", the stiff useless arms and legs being cleverly constructed artificial limbs.
I was sworn to secrecy about my discovery, and next day she appeared as usual in her "paralysed" state. But the incident naturally increased our intimacy and now she was able to relax in my presence. So much so that very often during my visits to her sitting room she received me in her limbless state, glad as she always was to get rid of the stiff, cumbersome, false limbs. These I understood she had usually discarded at night in the privacy of her sitting-room, when she had no fear of interruption.
Curiously enough I did not find her lack of limbs distasteful and now that her secret was out as far I was concerned, she blossomed out into a very charming and fascinating companion.
To cut a long story short, we both left San Francisco shortly afterwards and were married just two years after our first meeting. She never went back to her false limbs after that, but was content to enjoy life as cheerfully as possible as the beautiful but limbless woman she really was.
I brought her to England and we settled down in a pleasant little seaside town, leaving her in the charge of her devoted maid during my absence at sea.
I never regretted our marriage and that we were together for nineteen very happy years. Then I lost her and I have never married again.
Your readers have been discussing the attractions of beautiful, limbless women. I can tell them from experience that a beautiful woman entirely without limbs can be in her own way most strangely attractive. It may seem extraordinary, but it is true!
Yours faithfully, M.D.
(Editors Note — Thirty years ago there was living in Brommels Road, Clapham an entirely limbless man named William Goy. He was very intelligent, could write well with his mouth, drive a van, and make bed work. When he was about 56 he married a young woman and had several children.) ed.



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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24176Post Bazil
28 Jan 2018, 21:08

London Life September 29, 1928 p. 26
One-Legged And Tattooed
Dear Sir, — I was very pleased with the Summer double number, and especially with the story of the limbless beauties, under the heading of "Le Moignon d'Or".
It gave me quite a thrill to read the intimate details of the life of Miss Merrill. I knew there must be a lot of girls in the world who have one or more limbs missing and yet can still be very fascinating. There is no doubt that a very beautiful girl, gracefully poised on a shapely single leg shod with a very high-heeled shoe, would provide a queer thrill for everyone.
The way in which the story was written thrilled me through and through, and I am quite used to seeing one-legged girls, as I was born as such. I also have a friend who has had her right leg amputated. She has written to your paper under the name of "One Legged Girl".
I think I have the honour of being the only girl in the whole world who was born in my condition, for my only leg emerges from the centre of the base of my trunk, instead of to one side, so that it is either right or left. I also have seven toes instead of five, the big toe being in the centre and three smaller toes on either side.
Of course, I have to get my shoes made to measure, as an ordinary shoe will not fit. My knickers are also made specially for me with the leg in the centre of the body.
Of course, having my leg central, I can effect a much better balance than if it were at one side; but at the same time, when I have to travel, I must either hop or, if it is very far, use a pair of dainty crutches, as one crutch is no use in my case.
I have had several designs tattooed on various parts of my body. My back is decorated with a most beautiful eagle with wings spread. My breasts have a lovely butterfly on each, while my leg has a gorgeous design of a climbing rose runner. This is shown to great advantage when I wear a thin nude silk stocking and a very short skirt, as it is my wont, for I am very proud of my single leg — my incomplete charm.
Yours truly, Freda Simmonds
Location: www.ampulove.net/files/txt/29-09-28.TXT

London Life September 8, 1928 p. 26 — 27
Lures Of The Limbless Girls
Sir, — A recent story in your paper was based on the curious attraction a crippled girl has for men, and I write, this hoping that some of your pretty crippled readers will be encouraged by the subject being opened and give us their views on this most interesting topic.
It is a fact that it is the helplessness of women which makes them attractive to men, so why should not the added helplessness of a missing or deformed limb be even more attractive?
In England the deformed or limbless girl usually resigns herself to Fate, and either tries to conceal her deformity or else takes no trouble with her looks and dress, and becomes dowdy and a disgrace to her sex.
Elsewhere things are very different. In France a deformity is often treated as an added attraction and boldly displayed, and even decorated. The French girl who has to wear leg-irons, has them made slim and neat, polished till they flash in the sun, and fitted into the neatest of boots, high-heeled where possible, and reaching high up the leg.
The irons are sometimes coloured. I have seen a pretty blonde wearing scarlet irons over white suede boots, with the straps at ankle and calve made of shiny patent leather. The effect was delightful, and the wearer was the object of many flattering stares as she walk on the arm of her beau.
Another dark beauty once came to the restaurant where I was dining, dressed in an Oriental gown, while she wore a thick soled boot of figured gold, with the black cork sole decorated in gold to represent Moorish architecture, so that the effect was of a golden foot resting on the towers of a golden mosque. The excitement of our fellow diners was intense, and she was the centre of attraction that night.
The next night eager eyes watched for her entrance, mine included. When she came she was dressed in scarlet, while her boot, also of scarlet, had painted on the white high sole a ring of young men in evening dress in various attitudes of supplication and adoration, who appeared about to be crushed by the disdainful and shapely scarlet foot. This lady later became a Paris celebrity.
I have seen another lady who had no right hand, who wore a heavily jewelled cap-over wrist-length stump, with an enormous diamond set in the centre so that it flashed as she moved.
Another lady in America used her complete lack of a left arm in a novel way. Wearing a white gown cut low on the left side, and coming over the shoulder over the right, she had a distinctly futurist artificial arm fitted over her left shoulder and stump. This was of gold colour, and jewels studded the places on her fingers where joints should have been. It was bent up and fastened on to her right shoulder, giving the appearance that it was holding her extremely daring gown in place — a remarkable novel and fascinating effect.
A friend once told me that she saw an American girl of sixteen or so with the stump of her arm "swallowed" by a jewelled green snake up to the shoulder, while the spasmodic movement of the short stump below the elbow made its tail wiggle in a most realistic way as it lay on the table before her.
But only the striking girl should adopt such remarkable things, and the less adventurous can conceal their deficiencies with realistic artificial legs and arms, while short legs can be hidden in high boots to a remarkable extent by having a dummy foot, the real foot being hidden in the leg of the boot with the toes pointed straight down (unfortunately, a most tiring position), while leg irons can often be made to lie flat against the leg and laced inside to an over-knee boot, or, better still, a Russian boot.
The lame girl is used to being stared at, so she can carry off a novel idea better than most normal ones. But if she is frightened of being too daring, and her deformity cannot be concealed, she ought even then to remember that a lame foot in a neat boot with smart shining irons on the leg can be distinctly attractive if only by reason of its dissymmetry, as it will call attention to a good face or figure.
Hoping this letter will interest and encourage some of your crippled girl readers,
Yours faithfully,
Hop Crutch
Location: www.ampulove.net/files/txt/08-09-28.TXT



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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24177Post Bazil
28 Jan 2018, 21:10

London Life October 6, 1928 p. 26
One-Legged Charmers
Dear Sir, — I was exceedingly pleased to see in your delightful paper two letters from one-legged girls who signed themselves "Elsie C." and "High— Heeled Monopede", respectively, and also a letter from a girl who has lost an arm, who signed herself "Interested". It also gave me great pleasure to see in your short replies one to "Modern Woman", who wants you to give us some more adventures of "La Belle Monopede".
This latter is an excellent suggestion, and by the amount of the interest that is being taken, I should venture to believe that you will do your level best to satisfy the desire for more and that you will, as usual, cater for the wishes of readers which, when cut short, means that you will, I hope, publish some more stories an the fascinating subject of one-legged girls.
A girlfriend of mine has come to stay with me for a week or so. Her home is at Manchester, and it would probably interest your incomplete readers that she has only one leg.
But there is a certain strangeness about her lack of a second lower limb — this is the fact that her only leg grows from the centre of the base of her trunk. Also, her foot is made to fit in with the unusual way Nature has asserted herself for she was born in this condition, and her single foot has seven toes. The big toe is in the middle, and there are three toes on each side of it.
This makes the buying of footwear a little more difficult for her, as she cannot get on either a right or left shoe. This difficulty is overcome by having her shoes or boots made to measure, and I might add that often envy her when out together, as it looks most fascinating to note how her single leg emerges from the centre of her knee-length dress.
The tables are reversed, though, when my dress is disturbed by the movement of my stump, for Freda cannot boast the slightest trace of a stump, while I have a beautifully rounded plump specimen.
We have great fun together now. We played a game of tennis together yesterday and I just managed to win.
It is rather amusing to us to note the great interest which we arouse when we go shopping together in the town.
We both wear short skirts, barely reaching to the knee, a nude silk stocking, and the daintiest of shoes — mine is a black patent one-bar model, and Freda's is a lovely Oxford style in red kid — both having 4 " inches heels.
Of course, Freda has to use a pair of dainty crutches; and I might add she does that with a deftness which is rather surprising — though, of course, she has been one-legged all her life; and I use a very delicately fashioned aluminium leg, very slender indeed as I find that I can get on much better by this means. Well, you may be sure that when thus attired we cause rather a sensation between us, for although a one-legged girl is no unusual sight, when two are together, openly flaunting their incomplete charms, the population are sure to sit up and take notice.
To get back to the readers' letters in your paper, I should like to offer my congratulations to "Elsie C." for the way she has overcome the loss of a leg and an arm through her motor mishap. I cannot offer her my sympathy, as that is not needed: For a beautiful girl need never be disheartened by the loss of a limb. I am sure, by the way she writes, that she has missed none of the good things in life through her loss. Indeed, I will go to the length of saying that she has entered a realm of glorious and thrilling experiences since the accident.
As for "High Heeled Monopede", one can judge from her remarks that she has never regretted having lost a leg, for although most people will admit that there is something fascinating in a pair of silk-clad legs, I can assure you that there is a subtle fascination that appeals to something bizarre in one's nature, in a beautiful girl, perfect in form and figure, who possess only one shapely leg and, possibly, the neatest of stump.
I wonder if you could obtain any photos of charming girls who are in this category? Perhaps you will try. And might I suggest that the illustrations by E. H. Stanton be possessed of a little more detail? For although they are really very fine works of art they leave a lot to the imagination.
I should esteem it a very great favour if you can oblige me with further stories of Sonia Merrill, or other one-legged girls in the near future; and may I be allowed to congratulate Will Stort on the masterful way in which he tells the story?
Hoping to see a favourable reply to my request soon,
Yours truly, Only A One-Legged Girl
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London Life October 20, 1928 p. 27
Tribute From A One-Legged Girl
Dear Sir, — The very interesting letters from one-legged lady readers that appeared in a recent issue prompts me to send a letter myself, as I happen to be yet another one-legged lady reader of your paper.
I am 26 myself, and have lost my left leg about 6 inches from the trunk. I was glad to see that all letters recently published by one-legged lady readers were so cheery and optimistic. People sometimes think that a girl who has lost a leg, especially if she is pretty, must be frightfully miserable and too wretched to care what becomes of her. This is by no means so. They are usually just as cheerful and happy as an other girl.
At first, as I know, it is a terrible blow, and you want to do away with yourself. But it is wonderful how things brighten up later on. You can get used to anything, and now I never think about it. As a matter of fact, especially if you are pretty and if you dress a bit on the extreme side, having only one leg makes you conspicuous in a way, and, to tell you the truth, I rather enjoy that.
There is just one thing in the last two letters sent by one-legged lady readers that I'm sorry that I can't agree with. Both these girls wear wooden legs, not the natural shaped artificial ones, but the peg-leg kind. I hope they will forgive me for saying that I personally would be utterly miserable if I had to wear one. I think the look of an ordinary wooden leg below a pretty frock would be most displeasing and unbecoming, besides giving a very stiff and unnatural walk to the wearer.
I'm afraid if I happened to turn up with one, my boy would be simply horrified. I don't like artificial legs either and neither does my boy. He likes to see just one leg below my very short frock; and if I may say such a thing, as I have a well shaped leg and a small, neat foot, the effect would be completely spoiled, in my opinion, by wearing an artificial leg or even an artificial one.
I have to use crutches, of course, and I can't say I am very fond of them. But they don't interfere with the look of your figure, and you can cultivate a graceful walk on them. And you can always put them out of the way as for instance, when sitting in the house.
My boy likes the look of my one leg well displayed from above the knee when I am sitting down. He thinks it is very fascinating, and I am sure he would hate to see a wooden leg sticking stiffly out.
Another thing that might just be a little personal fad of my own is that the wearing of an artificial leg of any kind as people know that have to wear them — completely spoils the shape of the stump and keeps it fleshless and boney. Maybe I am fastidious on this point, but I like to keep my stump as nice and well-shaped as any other part of my body.
I hope my very charming one-legged fellow readers will understand that I am only giving my personal opinion on these things. They have found the wearing of wooden legs useful and enjoyable, and thrilling, and I am very glad, for their sakes, that they do. But I am afraid I would no pleasure out of such a thing.
May I take this opportunity to thank very heartily Mr. Wallace Stort for his most wonderful story in the splendid Summer number? I think it was one of the most amazing stories ever written, and with most fascinating illustrations. Of course, it appealed specially to me, I would have simply loved to have been with Sonia in that wonderful club.
My boy was, if possible, even more excited over it than I was, and is keeping a copy as a most unique souvenir. We were both sorry we missed the other story mentioned, "The Tattooed Butterfly", we are living in hopes that Mr. Stort will write other adventures of La Belle Monopede, who is certainly one of the most unique heroines I have ever come across.
Please will "Elsie C." and "High-heeled Monopede" write again and also other one-legged lady readers? There seems to be quite a number of us, I am very glad to say and it is certainly splendid to find a paper like "London Life" bringing so much pleasure into our lives. It would be splendid if, as has been suggested, features about one-legged girls could be published from time to time.
Wishing you all success, and hoping this letter is not too long,
Yours truly, "Another One-Legged Girl"
(A thrilling article by Wallace Stort on "The Fascinations of the Limbless", appears in our Autumn Annual. — Editor.)
Phyllis Lynton (Sheffield) — Obliged for your good wishes. We will endeavour to give further experience of limbless girls surmounting their misfortunes.
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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24178Post Bazil
28 Jan 2018, 21:11

London Life October 27, 1928 p. 39
Happy Though Crippled
Dear Sir, — Thank you very much for publishing articles dealing with one— legged girls. Your delightful paper seems to be the only one which will take up such a fascinating subject.
I have only one leg and one arm. Also the middle two fingers of my only hand are missing.
I had a motoring accident three years ago, as the result of which my left arm and the two middle fingers of my right hand were completely amputated, and my right leg was paralysed.
From then until twelve month ago I was wheeled about in a bath-chair. I had also made the best of my disabilities; in fact, I seemed to be quite at home to my condition, but all the time I was worried, not by the loss of my arm and two fingers, and by the fact that my right leg was useless and I had to be wheeled about.
Then, one day, a girlfriend of mine came on a visit to our house. I had not seen her for quite a long time, and you may judge of my surprise when I noticed that she was swinging gracefully along on a dainty white crutch!
After the usual greetings had been exchanged, she recounted to me the story of how her leg had been amputated as the result of being knocked down by a motor cycle; and she made great stress on the fact that although she has to go through life with only one shapely leg, she was still as happy as ever.
I also noted with a thrill that she wore a very short dress and a beautiful high boot which laced to her knee and had a heel quite 5 inches high.
Well, to cut a long story short, as the result of her persuasion I decided to have my paralysed leg taken off!
This I did, after much discussion with my parents, and today I am pleased to say that I can now travel about without my bath-chair, as my useless leg is now superseded by a dainty wooden "peg" leg of superb fashioning.
By the use of this wooden leg I can dispense with my crutch, which occupied the full use of my only hand, yet I can still maintain an appearance of chic gracefulness.
It would take far too much space to recount any of my adventures since my loss of half my limbs, but suffice it to say I have never had cause to bemoan my fate. Indeed, I have great cause to bless it; for I have had many experiences since my loss that are denied other girls, and I have felt inclined to call it a gain rather than a loss.
Hoping to hear from other one-legged girls, and trusting to have other features in your excellent publication dealing with Sonia Merrill or other fascinating one-legged girls.
Yours faithfully, Cynthia.
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London Life November 10, 1928 p. 26
Bright Though Legless
Dear Sir, — I wish to convey my thanks to you for your interest in limbless girls. I consider this is another feather in the cap of your interesting weekly.
I am now 22 years of age, considered by most to be very pretty and of a fascinating nature, even though my left leg was amputated at the age of 16, as the result of a train accident.
As far as I can remember I have never regretted the loss of a limb, and I can still look on the bright side of life.
There is a great deal of fun to be obtained from life on one leg, and many a thrill for a one-legged girl who is ready to attempt a stunt which incurs a small risk to the shapely single leg.
Judging from the letters in your paper, most of your one-legged readers prefer a shoe or boot with a high heel, and I may be counted among this number. I think a high heel adds the finishing touch of daintiness to a beautiful girl, lovely of face and figure, wearing a close-fitting, knee— length skirt, and displaying to full view her one and only leg.
This would appear to have a strange fascination for the men folk also, as my boy confesses that he is intrigued by my absolute lack of self— consciousness, for I display my single leg to all and sundry without the slightest trace of tremor.
My Scotch blood is also stirred by the cost of clothing my shapely limb, for a pair of silk stockings will last twice as long, and I can get two different shoes for the price of one pair.
Hoping to hear from more of my girlfriends in similar circumstances,
Yours sincerely,
Single Leg.
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London Life November 17, 1928 P. 26
Advice To Limbless Girls
Dear Sir, — The story in your Summer number, entitled "Le Moignon d'Or," seems to have raised a great deal of interest among your limbless girl readers, and I should like to add my voice to the swelling songs of praise.
I think it was a most wonderful story, told in a marvellous way, and it does credit to your ever-bright and original paper to publish such an extraordinary story, as well as the article in your Autumn Annual.
The idea of a club run exclusively for beautiful girls who have lost one or more limbs is very fascinating.
I should like to pay a visit to such a club. I could easily obtain an entrance, as I lost my right leg when I was quite a child, and have learnt the art of graceful carriage from infancy.
It must be a wonderful sight to see all around very fascinating girls — members of the club, waitresses lift-girls, etc — all of whom have one leg or arm entirely absent.
To leave the imaginative for a time and come back to facts. I think the letter from the doctor who married a limbless girl should endorse the fact that a pretty girl who has possibly no limbs at all can be a very fascinating companion, or even wife.
My young man never seems to find my lack of a right leg at all distasteful. In fact, it would appear that my loss really gives an added charm. He also encourages any attempt on my part to master any fresh impulse which I may get to try to do things with the ease and grace of a normal girl.
When I wished to wear a shoe with a high heel, he immediately wrote to a firm who specialised in this type of footwear, and I was presented with a shoe the heel of which was five inches. I soon mastered the added height, and obtained the required degree of daintiness which gives the extra touch of charm to wearers of these shoes, and I might add that I have worn a high heel ever since, and have derived much pleasure from same.
In conclusion, may I urgify all my one-legged girlfriends to practice stunts, etc, performed by normal girls, as this will bring them one-legged perfection; and will you, Mr. Editor, publish some more stories of limbless girls in the near future?
Yours sincerely, Happy Monopede.
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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24179Post Bazil
28 Jan 2018, 21:11

London Life November 24, 1928 p. 27
Happy Though Crippled
Dear Sir, — Having read in your wonderful paper many letters from one— legged girls, I feel I must write to you in answer to them, and let them know that there is yet another one-legged girl to be added to your list of correspondence friends.
When I was eight years old I met with an accident which necessitated the amputation of my left leg about three inches above the knee. This, of course, left rather a long stump, terminating in a long puckered scar. My stump is well formed, healthy and plump, and I am extremely proud of it.
Recently, after a lapse of ten years, I thought I would go and be fitted with an artificial leg, but found, to my disappointment that the stump was utterly useless for this purpose, through being out of action, as it was, for such a long time. But still, I do not mind, because I am able to get about quite easily and, if I may say, quite gracefully on a pair of those neat little elbow crutches.
I do so hope that in the near future you will publish more of the stories about one-legged girls and their doings. Also I hope Miss E. Stanton puts more detail into her already charming drawings.
Hoping to hear more detailed descriptions of female monopedes, and thanking you for making us one-legged girls feel more hopeful about the future,
Yours sincerely, One-Legged Typist
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London Life | 1928
Happy Though Limbless
Dear Sir, — There seems to be quite a number of your lady readers who have lost one or more of their limbs, and I am very proud to think that I have so many friends who, like myself, have only one leg.
Most folk think that the loss of a leg is about the worst thing that could happen to a girl; but I might say that a one-legged girl can be quite as happy and fascinating as a girl who has not suffered an amputation.
There is no great difficulty in travelling on one leg, and I am sure that a pretty girl wearing a knee-length dress, and whose one and only leg is shrouded in a silk stocking, and upon whose dainty foot is a lovely high— heeled shoe, will be the cause of many admiring glances wherever she may go.
I always wear a shoe with a high heel, and I am pleased to see that other one-legged readers of your excellent paper have realised the important part played by a slim "Eiffel Tower" heel in the fascination of a one-legged girl.
Hoping to see other letters from limbless readers and more stories by Wallace Stort appearing in your entertaining weekly in the near future, also sketches by your clever artist, Miss E. H. Stanton.

London Life December 22, 1928 p. 27
Handicapped, But Smiling
Dear Sir, — It was with much pleasure and thankfulness that I picked up a copy of your particularly interesting paper and read the splendid letter of "Cynthia" upon the subject of her great handicap and my heart went out to her at once, as, being similarly handicapped myself, the subject went home, and I determined to write to you somewhat concerning myself.
Until nearly two years ago I had never known what it was to be afflicted in any way, except perhaps the little aches and pains that usually form part of our common lot; but being then the victim of a terrible accident slipping up in the middle of the road in a very busy thoroughfare, I was run over by two very heavy vehicles running in opposite directions, my left arm being so badly crushed by one vehicle that it had to be amputated at the shoulder, and my right leg by the other so badly that it had to be amputated at the hip joint. For a long time it was feared that my spine was affected by the shock that my system sustained, that my hand is so unsteady as to make my calligraphy almost indecipherable, my nervous system has recovered itself. I do therefore all my writing on a typewriter.
But although I have managed to accommodate myself to circumstance, I cannot say, like Cynthia, that I look upon the tragedy that has left its mark so irrevocably upon me, as anything in the light of blessing, either to disguise or anyhow else; for everything that I had hoped and longed for through all the responsible years of my life have been made hopelessly impossible by the affliction that has befallen me.
But, of course, I have much to be thankful for, because had it not been for the fact that I spun round as I fell, I must inevitably have been cut to pieces. And I often think, had it happened to be both legs or both arms, instead of, as it happened to be, it would have been worse, even as bad as it is. But I must not dwell upon this, for perhaps I am a little older than Cynthia, and see the seriousness of things more clearly than she does on that account.
I greatly admire the optimistic attitude she adopts towards the thing that no amount of worrying about can lessen. She has a gloriously happy, and, I should imagine, lovable disposition, and a brave and optimistic spirit that is absolutely unquenchable. That is the right spirit with which to face difficulties and calamities of all sorts.
But to my story. For a long time after being discharged from the hospital I still had lapses regarding the leg that had been removed, and, going to put my weight on it, fell in my tracks. This I did many times, sometimes being rather badly hurt. This happened either when I got out of bed in the morning, or after I had been seated for a while, and got up forgetting my infirmity. I got over my stupidity in the course of time, and have now got so well able to balance myself on one leg that I frequently go from room to room and out at the back of the house, without troubling to get my crutch; and now I think I really miss my left arm more than I do my right leg. I had never imagined, till I lost it, that my left arm could have been so useful. But that is the way with most of us. We never miss or properly appreciate anything until we have lost it. But I must draw this to a close, though I would like to have said a good deal more.
I will content myself with just saying that I do not sink under my infirmity, but do all I can to make the best of what is still left of me. To that end I do my hair — which is very long, and soft and glossy of which I am exceedingly proud — in as bewitching a manner as possible. I am told that it was nothing but my hair that saved me from having a fractured skull. I also have a well shaped waist and a well shaped bust, of which also I am very proud. I also wear a short skirt, rather narrower than those generally worn, which just reaches to my knee, and a high-legged buttoned boot of a very smart shape, with a high Louis heel, and my skirt just reaches to the top of it. I also wear two pairs of earrings — or rather pendants — and large rimless pince-nez.
Wishing you all the best,
Yours, etc, Lill
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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24878Post Bazil
03 Feb 2018, 10:44

1929
London Life January 12, 1929 p. 27
The Fascination Of The One-Legged Girl
Dear Sir, — Since writing my letter concerning myself, I have read the article by Wallace Stort on "The Fascination of the One-Legged Girl", and would like to say that I can heartily reciprocate all that had been said upon that point; for, a few years ago, before some malignant fate had robbed me of half of the limbs I had then, I was out one evening doing a little necessary shopping that had been forgotten when I was out earlier in the day, and as I was passing a certain hotel some temperance reformers were holding a meeting in the roadway immediately in front of it.
The meeting was pretty well attended, and I noticed that two or three ladies were seated on chairs that had been brought from the houses of sympathizers near by. And among the ladies seated I noticed one young lady with a smile upon her face, with dark eyebrows and black, or very dark, lustrous eyes that seemed to fascinate me and make me want to know more of her.
She noticed my interested look, and bowed and smiled in acknowledgement. And then I noticed that she had lost her right leg at the hip joint. I was glued to the spot in astonishment, and my heart went out to her; and if pity is akin to love, I could not define which of the two it was, but most heartily believe that it must have been an assemblage of all that is sweetest and best in both; and if I had been a man I must have fallen head over heels in love with her there and then.
I was thrilled, and my whole being seemed to tingle with the great passion that possessed me. But I remembered my errand and, fearing that I had already stayed too long and that the shop would be shut up, I bowed to her and smiled, and she bowed and smiled to me.
I got to the shop just as they were in the act of shutting up. I hastened back to the meeting, hoping to renew my acquaintance with the lady who had so thrilled and interested me; but, to my intense disappointment, she was gone, and although I have used every means in my power to find out the whereabouts of the lady and renew my acquaintance, I have failed. Still the urge within me is just as strong, and I hope to find her yet.
Yours, etc
Lill.

London Life February 16, 1929 pp. 26 and 35
Limbless People I Have Met (Part 1)
by Wallace Stort
The article on "Freaks", and the photographs that accompanied it, which appeared in the Circus number of "London Life", has aroused great interest in these abnormalities of Nature.
The subject has always held a peculiar fascination for me, and I have taken every opportunity that has occurred of seeing limbless ladies on exhibition in whatever part of the globe I happened to find myself. In addition, one's ordinary journeying about the streets, or visit to theatres, restaurants etc, quite frequently yield little adventures and experiences that may be worth recording.
Taking first of all limbless ladies seen on exhibition, I should mention that I have already dealt with the very large number of ladies lacking some or all of their limbs at present on exhibition all over the world, in an article I contributed to these pages some little time back, and some of the ladies I shall now refer to were included in that article. Others, seen since the article was written, are here mentioned for the first time. I propose to refer more or less briefly to the former class, and with a little more detail to the latter. Also, for the sake of clearness, I shall place all the ladies concerned in definite categories.
Charming limbless ladies
There are at present before the public, as far as my knowledge goes, four ladies in the first category — that is born completely without limbs — and of these I have seen three. These are Miss Rose Foster, an English woman, a photograph of which you published in the Circus number; "Violetta", a German girl; and "Madame Josephine", also a German.
Miss Foster I saw at Olympia during the Christmas circus season of 1922. She is a very attractive woman, quite without legs, and with only short, shapely stumps of arms, which she is able to use in a variety of ingenious ways. She was married some years ago in her native Southampton.
"Violetta", whom I saw at Coney Island, New York, USA, during my visit to the States in the summer of 1926, is a remarkable example of this type of anomaly. About 19, extremely pretty, she is literally only a shapely trunk, the arms being completely absent from the shoulders, and the legs from the hips — not even stumps being present in either case.
She was quite cheerful and completely unconcerned when seen, and, like so many of her kind, seemed to welcome the interest she aroused in the crowds who paid to see her.
A wonderful fragment of a woman
"Madame Josephine" I saw in Berlin about eighteen months ago, and she is probably the most extraordinary "freak" now before the public. She also is completely without either arms or legs; but in her case the lower part of the trunk is dwarfed, so that by an ingenious concealment of the dwarfed lower part within the cushioned top of the pedestal on which she rests during exhibition, she appears to be only a living bust, her large prominent breasts actually resting on the pedestal top! The effect is extraordinary and until this living head and shoulders — for that is all she seems — is carried round among the audience, still resting on the pedestal top, one is completely convinced that the whole thing is an illusion. I understand that the trunk is quite perfectly formed, though reduced, below the breasts, to midget proportions. The wonderful fragment of a woman has actually been married twice, the second marriage having taken place early this year in America!



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Re: Letters to the magazine "London Life" 1924-1941

Post: # 24879Post Bazil
03 Feb 2018, 10:47

Beautiful semi-woman
In the second category — legless ladies — I have seen "Gabrielle", whose photo also embellished your Circus number, and "Zara", both being Germans.
"Gabrielle", who has spent nearly all her life in America, I saw during an earlier visit to the States some years ago. She is about 40, and was for many years considered the most perfect example of what is known as the "half-lady" on exhibition. Down to the hips she is a beautifully proportioned woman. Below that she does not exist, the trunk finishing neatly and smoothly a little below the waist, with nothing in the way of stumps being present. "Gabrielle" has also been married twice, her second husband being a German born.
Johanna Kamfke, whom I saw at Olympia in 1926, is a younger edition of "Gabrielle", formed on exactly similar lines, her trunk finishing at the hips without stumps being present.
Bejewelled though limbless
"Zara", a rather buxom beauty of about 30, whom I saw in the same show as "Madame Josephine", was not, I imagine, born without legs, but lost them later.
She has two short stumps, about 6 inches long from the hips, and these are fully displayed, as her costume consists of a sort of highly ornamented bathing suit. She wears bangles on the stumps, she is loaded with bracelets, necklaces, rings, etc, and is able to "dance" on them; but I must confess that, though she moves quite easily on the stumps, and "ran" across the little stage with marvellous agility, the spectacle is not particularly attractive.
Later in the day, by the way, I had the interesting experience of meeting both "Madame Josephine" and "Zara" out together in the grounds of the "fair" in which they were on exhibition. "Zara" propelling herself in a wheel chair, and "Madame Josephine" being wheeled by an attendant in a bath-chair. Madame was, of course, entirely enveloped in a wrap; but "Zara" was in outdoor costume, the skirt of which was gathered under her so that her leglessness was quite obvious to all passers-by.
Feats of armless ladies
In the third and by far the largest category, armless ladies, there are very many I have seen. There must be between 20 and 30 on exhibition in various parts of the world; but curiously enough, I have only seen two, and neither of these in England. These are Miss Margaret Morris, an American girl, and "Countess Anna", once again a German.
Miss Morris, a pretty brunette of about 25, is, in a way, in a category of her own, as besides being completely without arms from the shoulders, she is practically without legs — her feet, which are quite perfectly formed, appearing just below her hips. As she cannot walk, the only purpose for which she uses her feet are as substitute for hands. She is most expert with her feet and toes which are so soft and well cared as are normal girl's hands, and she can do everything usually accomplished by the hands, except dress herself.
Shapely arms and shoulders
"Countess Anna" is a really beautiful girl of 21 or so, with most shapely armless shoulders, which she displays to the utmost advantage.
There are one or two intriguing points about the "Countess's" performance, about which, as the latter took place in a big vaudeville theatre when I saw her, I was unable to put any questions, much as I should have liked to do so.
In the first place, she remained seated throughout the whole of her act; and, secondly, while above the waist all she wore were two jewelled breast plates and a few silken straps, below she was draped in a long gown of clinging silk, from a slit on the left side of which her left leg emerged quite bare from the hip. And with this leg and foot she performed all her feats. The right leg was never for a moment in evidence, and after careful observation I formed the opinion that the right leg had been amputated from quite close to the hip especially as I plainly saw the thin silk of her dress disturbed several times near the hip by something extremely like a rounded stump. But I could not be sure, and so the matter remains a mystery.
If the "Countess" is really one-legged as well as armless, I should imagine that she would render her performance much more sensational by revealing herself as she really is; but she does not choose to do this, and I suppose she has quite adequate reasons for her decision.
Conspicuous by their absence
A few lines back I made the statement that armless ladies formed by far the largest category of limbless ladies before the public, and it might have been thought that this distinction should really have been given to the obviously very large class of one-legged ladies. But though, of course, greatly in the majority generally, the curious thing is that on the stage, in circuses, etc, they are for the most part conspicuous by their absence.
Personally, I have only seen one example — a very beautiful, magnificently formed woman contortionist whose right leg was entirely absent from the trunk, and who gave a most remarkable contortion display in a New York variety theatre.
As far as England is concerned, I have never even heard of a one-legged lady performer appearing on stage — that is, of course, as a one-legged performer.
Sarah Bernhardt appeared in London after the loss of her leg, but the absence of her leg was most carefully concealed. A very intriguing item, however, appeared only about a month ago in a American theatrical weekly.
Limbless variety artists
In the very brief notice of the vaudeville performance at the New Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, there appeared the following! "The Kauffner Twins (Irma and Zoe), unique one-legged equilibrists, open the show with an interesting speciality. The girls are fast workers, despite their disability, and went off rousing applause."
That was all. It was tantalisingly brief, and this is the first and only reference to this girls I have seen, so that I cannot give any particulars about them. But if they really are twins — stage "sisters" are not always what they seem, though twins, I take it, ought to be genuine — it is certainly remarkable that each has only one leg, and one wonders how exactly this came about.
Leaving the world of the stage and the side-show booth, and coming to one's ordinary, everyday experiences many interesting and often intriguing encounters can be recalled.



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