A carnival magician whose schtick was to balance a heavy anvil on his chest and then allow members of the audience to hit it with a sledgehammer rued his choice of career on May 21, 1931, after the act took a sudden, and perhaps not unexpected, turn.
The magician, Jack Rabclown, had been entertaining the crowd with the usual array of sideshow acts, such as swallowing glass and carpet tacks, during a carnival held in Pendleton. Rabclown was lying prone on the ground with the anvil on his chest, demonstrating his main attraction, and invited a spectator from the crowd to take aim at the anvil. Swinging the hammer with all his strength, the spectator was horrified when it glanced off the anvil and landed on the magician’s abdomen.
Mr. Rabclown was taken to St. Anthony Hospital and treated for serious injuries.