“Say, Rube, he ain’t Quite Dead yet”

16 Apr

In 1912, Arthur Irwin told William A. Phelon of The Cincinnati Times-Star:

irwin

Irwin

“Rube Waddell was even a richer card than was usually supposed and nobody unless he were to put it all down in a large, thick book will ever have an actual summary of the things G. Edward said and did during his long career in the fast company.”

Irwin said Waddell, despite his reputation for erratic behavior “had a kindly heart, always open to the cries of the unhappy, and especially gentle towards the ladies.”

rube

Rube

He told Phelon a story about  a dance they both attended in Philadelphia:

“Mr. Waddell arrived early and was quieted by being presented with a gorgeous badge denoting him as floor marshal. Armed with this, Mr. Waddell was as nice and polite as Lord Chesterfield himself and gave no trouble. The managers soon ceased to worry about Rube—and were given other things to trouble them.

“About midnight a prizefighter named Seiger of some repute as a rough, hardy slugger, came into the hall and at once started making war medicine.”

According to newspaper accounts, there were at least four fighters named Seiger or Sieger who had bouts in Philadelphia during the first decade of the 20th Century—the most prominent were both lightweights: Joe Seiger and Charley Sieger

Irwin picks up the story:

“Inside of ten minutes I had to go in and help the floor committee drag him off some inoffensive fellow who hadn’t kowtowed to his sovereignty. About 10 minutes later we had to sally in again and rescue some well-dressed gentleman from Seiger’s clutches. ‘Better cut it out,’ said I ‘you are looking for a trimming and you will get it, sure’

‘”Ain’t nobody on this floor goin’ to hand it to me,’ jeered Seiger, and back he went, shouldering through the throng.”

rubesuit

Rube

A minute later, Irwin said:

“I heard loud noises and then the thud of fast falling blows. In I rushed and beheld Mr. Seiger going rapidly round the floor under the mighty fists of Rube Waddell. Before the Rube’s gigantic strength and pile driving blows the prizefighter was helpless. Seiger was receiving a frightful beating, but he had it coming to him and no one interfered. Finally, Seiger fell against the wall, and the Rube, his eyes blazing with murderous delight, simply hailed blows upon the dazed and bleeding pugilist. Just as he was drawing back his great fists for another wallop, there was a shrill shriek and a woman fainted.”

Waddell turned away from the boxer, and:

“(R)an to the spot where the girl had fallen and picked her up. He bore her to an anteroom, poured ice water on her forehead and cared for her like a trained nurse till she revived.”

Someone told Waddell, as he administered to the woman:

‘”Say, Rube, he ain’t quite dead yet.’

“Rube shook his head, ‘Chivalry,’ said Waddell, ‘comes before pleasure. I ain’t going to move from here till this lady gets her thinks back. Soon as she’s all OK I’ll go finish him but I won’t stir a step till then.”

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