THE BOY’S OWN PHUNNYGRAPH,
TO BE EXHIBITED
By Prof. Edd and Son.
IN winter-time, when a great part of a boy's fun must be found in-doors, it is a good thing to know how to get up amateur exhibitions of various kinds. In this way boys can have a good time while preparing the shows, and may also afford a great deal of pleasure to their companions and friends who make up the audiences. One of the most entertaining parlor exhibitions which can be given at a moderate expense by a party of bright boys, accustomed to the use of carpenters' tools, is " The Boy's Own Phunnygraph," invented by the author, who once exhibited one at an amateur performance before an audience of five hundred people. The first thing necessary 'in the construction of this very peculiar machine is a dry-goods box, large enough for a boy to sit inside of it without discomfort. The top must be firmly nailed on and the two sides taken off, thus leaving nothing but the top, bottom, and two ends of the box. The sides, each of which probably consists of two or three pieces of board, are to serve as doors, and therefore must be firmly fastened together by means of cleats or narrow strips of board nailed across them. One side of the box, which we shall call side A, must be very strong, and will probably require three cleats. The other side, B, which is in front when the apparatus is in use, must now be fastened to the box by a pair of hinges strong enough to sustain its weight. There should be a hook on it, to keep it shut when necessary. A shelf wide enough for a small-sized boy to sit upon must be attached to side A, and should be supported by iron braces. Strong leather straps will do if a blacksmith is not handy, but they must be very firmly fastened to the shelf and to the back door of the box, as we shall now call side A. As a small boy with a strong voice is to sit on this shelf, it would ruin the exhibition if the shelf were to break down, not to speak of the damage which might be done to the boy. Hence this back door must be fastened to the box by heavy gate or barn-door hinges. Two strong wooden bars or handles must now be secured to the bottom of the box, and should project far enough at the ends of the box to allow a boy to stand between them, at each end, when the box is to be lifted or carried. The rest of the necessary work is very easy. A crank, or turning handle (which will turn nothing), is to be fastened to one end of the box; and two holes-about two inches in diameter are to be made, one in the front door and one in the top of the box. In each of these a tin. or pasteboard horn is to be fastened-the one on top to be smaller than the other. Then on the inside of the box a round stick-a broom-stick will answer-is to be placed on two notched blocks fastened to the ends of the box, so that it can be easily taken out of its place by the small boy, and put back again, when occasion requires. A tomato-can may be stuck on the broom-handle, so. that it will look like a tin cylinder containing something or other of importance. This round stick, with its cylinder, is only for show I but it should not be omitted. Nothing more is now necessary but a pair of wooden trestles, or horses, such as carpenters use, on which the box is to stand during the exhibition.
Having explained how to make this novel phonograph, I have only to tell you how it is to be used. It is evident, from what I have said, that there is to be a small boy in that box, and the fact is that he is the most important part of the whole machine; for this is only a piece of fun, intended to excite curiosity and amusement in the audience, who may, perhaps, imagine that there is a small boy somewhere about the apparatus, but who cannot see where he is.
The phunnygraph, which should stand in a room opening into that in which the audience is to assemble, or it may be behind a curtain, must be arranged in working order some minutes before the time fixed for the exhibition to commence.
The way to arrange it is as follows: The back door of the box must be opened and the small boy seated on the shelf. The door is closed, the boy going into the box as it shuts. The front door is also shut. If the broom-handle and tomato. can are in the boy’s way, he can take them down and put them on one side.
The Professor-who is to exhibit the workings of the machine, and who should be a boy able to speak fluently and freely before an audience-must now come out and announce that the exhibition is about to begin. He should see that the wooden horses are so placed that the box will rest properly upon them, and should make all the little preparations which may be necessary. Then, after a few words of introduction, he may call for his phunnygraph, and the box will be borne in by two boys.
After the bearers have walked around the stage, so that both sides of the box may be seen by the audience, it must be placed its trestles, or stands, with the front door toward the company.
The Professor will then call attention to the fact that the persons present have seen each side of the box, and can see under and all around it, thus assuring themselves that it has no connection with anything outside it, except the stands on which it rests. He will then proceed to open it, taking care to
open the back door first. The small boy swings back with the door, which conceals him from the audience as it stands open. As soon as the Professor announces that he is about to open the box, the small boy must put the broom-stick in its place if he has taken it down. Then the Professor throws open the front door and shows that there is nothing in the box but the rod and cylinder, which seem to be attached to the crank. What machinery may be concealed in that little tin cylinder, he does not feel called upon to say.
After a few minutes for a general observation of the inside of the box, he closes it, being very careful to shut the front door first. Then the small boy takes ,down the broom-stick, puts it out of his way; and proceeds to make himself comfortable and ready for business, The Professor now begins to exhibit the phunnygraph by speaking into the horn at the top of the box, He generally commences with a short sentence, pronouncing each word loudly and clearly, so that everyone can hear it. He gives the crank a few turns and calls upon the audience to be very quiet and listen, and then, in a very few moments, the same words that he used are repeated from the horn in the front of the box, the small boy within imitating, as nearly as possible, the voice and tone of the Professor. The exhibition may go on as long as the audience continues to be interested and amused. All sorts of things may be spoken into the box, which, after a few turns of the crank, will be repeated from the mouth-piece or horn in the front door. Various sounds may be reproduced by means of this machine, and an ingenious Professor and a smart small boy can make a deal of fun. A startling final effect may be produced if, after the Professor has crowed into the upper horn, the boy inside can manage, unperceived-say by means of a small sliding-pane1-to throw out a live, strong-voiced rooster.
But it must not be supposed that an exhibition of this kind will be successful without a good deal of careful preparation and several rehearsals. Everyone should be perfectly familiar with his duty before a performance in front of an audience is attempted. The box-doors should work perfectly, the small boy
should be able to sit on his shelf in such a way that his head will never stick up when the back door is open, and he should practice putting up the broom-stick when the Professor announces that the box is to be opened. By the way, if the box is opened several times during the performance to oil the rod, or to do some little thing to the cylinder, it will help to excite the curiosity of some of the audience; but the Professor must not forget that the front door must never be open when the back door is shut. The boys who carry the box should also carefully practice their business, so as to set the box down properly on its supports, and to see that it is firmly placed. It may be necessary for one or both of them to sit on the front handles when the back door, with the boy on it, is swung back, so as to balance his weight and prevent an upset. But experiment will show whether this is necessary or not.
As to the business of the Professor and the small boy, that, of course, must be carefully studied. It will not do to rely on inspiration for the funny things which must be said by the Professor, and imitated by the boy in the box. The Professor may bark like a dog, crow like a cock, or make any curious sound he pleases, provided he knows, from practice at rehearsal that the small boy can imitate him. The cost of the box, hinges, braces, etc., will probably be between two and three dollars. If the box is painted, or covered with cheap muslin, it will look much more mysterious and scientific.