W. C. Fields : his follies and fortunes (1949)

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W. C. Fields "Everybody sat in the kitchen in the wintertime. It was so god-damned cold in the rest of the house you couldn't stand it. The kitchen was the only place with any heat. We used to make snowballs, dip them in some kind of flavoring, and have a party. There sure was lots of snow. One year we had a blizzard there, a big one. It went over the horses' heads. It was quite a thing to see the snowplow coming, and we'd go knock on the neighbors' doors and tell them it was coming. It had twelve horses." Fowler: "That's very interesting, Willie. Thanks a lot." Fields: "You're welcome, my boy." Thus the Philadelphia of Fields' youth—a city then, as now, of high moral indignation and average morals. As a small boy Fields was sensitive, mulish, humorous and independent. He was of medium size but possessed of uncommon constitutional and muscular strength. Because he also had an excess of both daring and aggressiveness, he held sway over all the other neighborhood children of his age, many of whom were a head taller than he. There were two girls in the group, Fields recalled later, who were grown far beyond their years. He had trouble, he said, whipping them without using a club. The best sources agree that Fields probably did have trouble with preco- cious girls; his shows were crowded with mentions of savage vic- tories over the opposite sex. "You remember the time I knocked Waterfront Nell down?" he asked a fellow bartender in My Little Chickadee, and when the man replied, with some heat, "Why, you didn't knock her down—/ did," Fields said, "Well, I started kicking her first." Among the children of both sexes he was known *4