BARS #3 HAND PADS & BLISTERS
Bar actors wore pads to protect their hands, in fact some flyers would also wear them when their hands got sore, the pads, as you can see below did not protect the fingers from developing blisters, or callouses, for that matter, some times they didn't protect the hands that good either. When you worked theaters you sometimes did 5 shows a day, that was rough on the hands. I remember working a nightclub in Montreal, doing three shows a day, & during that time we worked a TV show, doing four rehearsals plus the show, I had 14 blisters with the skin peeled off.
Some guys developed callouses, personally I preferred to keep my hands soft, I would rather tear the skin off a blister than tear off a big thick callous. Blondie used to shave his callouses with a razor-blade, he refused to wear hand pads which made Bruce & I unhappy because bare hands tended to take the dope off the bar. He would put some on for practice, do a couple giant swings and take them back off.
The pads as you can see were home made, & rather simple, a leather strap, & two pieces of wick from a kerosene lamp, there were some tailor mades for gymnastics high bar, but you know how show bums are about changing from the old ways.
We sort of resent the pads gymnasts use now because they have a piece of dowel stick in them that aids in holding onto the bar.
MY LAST HAND PADS
When they fit properly, & the length right it was not possible to straighten the hand. If you ever noticed, George Hubler had a habit of having his wrists bent, that came from wearing bar act pads.
As far as I know the shoes they wore were much like most acrobats, leather, with a soft rough leather sole, made by the "Griffin Theatrical Shoe Co.", of Rochester, N.Y., when I started, I wore canvas gymnastic pumps because that's what I was used to from my gymnastic days. Later I wore a cut down version of a big clown shoe,(not quite as long) that I made myself, they had hard leather soles which didn't seem to bother me much.
MY BAR ACT SHOES