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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Washington Flyer: 1921

Washington Flyer: 1921

January 29, 1921. Washington, D.C. "Herbert Bell and Joe Garso." Evidently lost to history. Does anyone out there remember them? Two final pics in the comments. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Above the knee

A leg amputation above the knee is a much more serious issue than one below. My grandfather, a jockey, fell off a horse and broke his leg while exercising at Belmont Park in 1937. Through medical errors, his leg was ultimately amputated above the knee a year later. His life was hell from then on. He suffered phantom pain and even convulsions due to nerve damage. These men really overcame a lot to accomplish what they did. Very impressive.

"We could do that"

Danny's riding is rather spectacular, but given that Herb and Joe are artistes in their own right and from the look of them, no-nonsense guys to boot, their reaction would probably be, "Hell, give us two legs (each) and a couple of those Tarty bikes, we could do that! And what's with that sissy helmet? And why didn't he draw a crowd? And we didn't have no music neither."


Trick bicycling is making a comeback. I wonder what these guys would make of humble, daring "bike trials" rider Danny MacAskill?


Here's a one-legged Herbert Bell from Long Island City (NYT, Jan. 22, 1914). Perhaps he found happiness as a bicycle showman later on?

Joseph Garso

I've scoured the Washington Post archives using all the name variants and keywords I can think of: sadly, their is no report of their performance.

The 1920 census lists one Joseph Garso, age 34, living in Clifton, NJ. He was born in Italy and his occupation is listed at "actor- showhouse." He is married and has 4 children.

He also appears in the 1910 census, living in Manhattan. His age at the time was noted as 27 (such discrepancies are not uncommon in census records) but it is clearly the same person as the name of wife and 2 eldest children match. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1896 but does not seem to be listed in the 1900 census.

The 1920 Census lists 127 Herbert Bells - none of the ones I checked in NJ and NY had occupations which could be construed as "one-legged trick cyclist."

By headstand time,

the Railway Express guy has lost interest. I can't imagine why. This looks like it was a pretty interesting act.

If only....

If only that kid with the scooter had taken off the handle and riser, he'd have been the inventor of the skateboard. Cowabunga!

Herb and Joe (or Joe and Herb)

Click to enlarge.

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