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Mail Tribune 100, Dec. 6, 1918

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.

Dec. 6, 1918


Jack Williams, the Human Fly, who is to climb the Hotel Medford building Saturday at 2:30, rain or shine, blindfolded, under the auspices of the Mail Tribune, is the real original Human Fly and the man to whom goes the credit for originating that exhibition. Medford has been visited once before by a man who claimed to be the Human Fly and needless to say his exhibition was a dismal failure. But this time Medford is to see the real Human Fly in action. Like all good things Mr. Williams has imitators and several Oregon towns where Mr. Williams has given his exhibition have noticed the difference.

Some of the largest papers in the country credit this young man with feats of daring that sound almost impossible and the Seattle Star describes his exhibition in that city in the following terms:

“Starting from the sidewalk in front of the tallest building west of the Mississippi river, Jack Williams better known as the “Human Fly,” started his climb to the top of the 42 story L. C. Smith building while thousands with open mouths watched his every movement minutely. He approached the building with a smile on his face, his right arm shot up, his fingers grasped hold, his muscles working like the parts of a well oiled machine, and he was going upward. His hand would grasp a finger hold, his body would shoot upward while, the other hand grasped one above, while his feet were brought into play in the most dexterous manner, and seemed to be always just at the right spot to assist him.

Before the crowd realized it he was at the fourth floor. He faced a bare wall 27 stories, but it worried him not one bit. Crouching on one of the ledges beside the window he paused a moment to judge the distance, his muscles were drawn up and of a sudden he shot upward, while below thousands gasped in horror. As he went upward, his hands shot out, they had grasped the ledge nearly six feet above him, a swing, a sudden lurch and his body was shot out horizontally, and he was on the next ledge.

Going over the cornice at the top of the thirty-first floor was the most daring, death defying feat ever performed in Seattle. Arrived at the 31st floor, he wiped his hands on a towel which was handed to him from out the window and prepared to go over the ledge above, which projects nearly five feet out from the wall proper. Crawling up until his head was under the projecting cornice he crouched one more time for one of those deadly springs. Of a sudden his body was catapulted upward and outward and the thousands turned their heads away, and would not look, while others stood in horror stricken amazement. Seven ladies were carried in fainting condition from the crowd. It did not seem possible that such a feat could be performed and those who had the courage to look saw those flaying arms grasp the edge of the cornice. The jump had been judged to the fraction of an inch. Of a sudden the body began to swing, back and forth like the pendulum on a clock. Suddenly his feet came even with his head, his toe caught the gutter and with a swing he lay panting on the balcony that surmounts the top of the tower. He had accomplished what one minute before, any person in the crowd would have deemed the height of the ridiculous as well as impossible to even attempt.”

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News from 100 years ago