Sunday, 16 September 2012

Boston man who ate glass and coal.

In the 1920's Bostonian James Ladley (popularly known as Buck) lived in Caroline Court. Of medium build his tanned skin spoke of an open air life, and his street performances fascinated the crowds in the town. He would allow himself to be tied up in ropes from which he would free himself in an incredibly short time, he would break a piece of glass between his teeth and calmly chew and swallow the larger pieces, he would chew coal and brick and with his two hands bend double a piece of steel half an inch in thickness. Asked how he came to start such an occupation he said that he was out of work and had nothing to eat so he thought he would try to get some money in an honest way, and that is why he went on the market. As previously said, he used to get tied up and free himself in a certain time without undoing the knots. One May Day market two farm labourers, out for a days fun, tied him up and said they would give him five shillings if he could get free within 20 minutes, he told them to put 2/6d each in the ring and he would shake hands with  them. They put the money in the ring and as they did he just gave his hands a twist, the ropes fell loose, and he shook hands with them as promised. On another occasion he was doing his turn on Bargate Green when someone in the crowd challenged him as to whether he actually swallowed the glass, the man bet him £5 that he didn't. Buck hadn't the money to cover the bet but another market man lent him the money. Next came the question of how to prove that he really did swallow the glass and it was eventually decided he should undergo an X-ray examination at Boston Hospital, the loser of the bet to pay the cost of the X-ray too. He went for the examination and proved to the satisfaction of the man that there was nothing fake about it and went home that night with £5 in his pocket. Another time a man said to Buck that he could chew glass as well as he could so he thought he would give him a try, he asked the people in the crowd to be witnesses of the fact that the man had agreed to do it at his own risk and they agreed. Buck chewed his into powder and swallowed it and then came the mans turn, as soon as he got it in his mouth he began to bleed and Buck took it from him and dressed his mouth with iodine. The injured man put his hand in his pocket and gave Buck 10 shillings and whenever he passed Buck afterwards he threw 2 shillings in the ring. He took £11 odd that day at Beedall's corner.
After each performance he took two or three teaspoonsfuls of a celebrated golden syrup which cleared all the glass and coal dust out of his system He once had an offer to join the Circus but said the money was not enough in comparison with the risk and so he refused.
In his younger days he was a good boxer, wrestler and a weightlifter, he claimed that when he was 18 he could lift a quarter of a ton and when Fisher Clarks factory was being built he carried five 1cwt bags of cement (a quarter of a ton) tied together from the lorry to inside the building.
He would have been born in about 1889 as in 1935 he was 46 years old and a labourer on the dock. By this time he had not done his "magic"  in eight or ten years because certain people in authority did not look with a very favourable eye on his performances in the public streets because of the possible effect they might have on the younger generation but, as shown to a reporter of 1935, he could still bend the steel and lift a 4 stone weight (56lbs) above his head with the little finger of his right hand.

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