In October of 2015, I received an email from Lee Jackson of the Juggling Jacksons. Lee and his sister, Joy, performed with their parents Bob and Lois. The Juggling Jacksons were a well-known American juggling act in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s, Lee and Joy left the act as they entered adulthood. Bob and Lois continued to perform into the 1980s and were active in the IJA. I recall seeing them at some of the early IJA Conventions I attended, passing clubs with such tremendous force and speed that I gasped. Below are some photos of the Juggling Jacksons.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I received an email from Lee Jackson in October of last year. I had talked to Lee several years earlier about possibly donating some of his family’s props to my juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He had responded that he’d think about it and left it at that. In 2014, Lee’s mother Lois passed away and I wrote an obituary for eJuggle. Bob had passed in 1990. In the new email from Lee, he informed me that his parents’ house was being sold, and if I wanted a bunch of old juggling props, I could drive down to Maryville, Tennessee to get them. He gave me contact information for his sister Joy and I scheduled a time to come down to pick up the props. My twin brother, Scott Cain, who acts as the assistant curator of the juggling museum and who also writes for eJuggle, took off work to make the five hour (each way) drive to Maryville with me. When we arrived, we were greeted by Joy Jackson, who was standing next to a giant pile of old juggling props. While I neglected to take any photos of the props at the Jackson house, I did take one of everything when we got it back to my house. Below is that amazing photo.
Pictured above are 54 wooden Harry Lind clubs from the 1950s, 28 fiberglass Claude Crumley clubs from the 1970s, 5 early Dube clubs, 4 very rare Harry Lind devil sticks, 4 very rare Harry Lind rings, 7 metal spinning plates, 70 old wooden or plastic rings, and various balls, mouth sticks, knives, and other props. Some of these are shown below.
Standard Harry Lind clubs with round knobs
Octagonal Harry Lind clubs
Early Dube composite clubs
1950s stainless steel spinning plates
Harry Lind knives and knife mouth stick
As you may have guessed, Scott and I were blown away by the sheer number of props. We loaded almost every prop into my car, only leaving behind nine very old tennis rackets, which we’ll discuss in part two of this article. We also were given a large stack of photos, newspaper clippings, and other juggling-related pieces of literature. As we drove home, we looked through this stack of stuff and found that it contained something that fellow juggling historian Erik Aberg and I have been looking for; an almost complete set of IJA bulletins. We found many great pieces of information in those bulletins which are still providing points of research for my history work.
At my home, the props were cleaned, photographed, and inventoried. Obviously, I was not going to be able to display most of the Juggling Jacksons’ props in the museum. Some of the more rare examples were put on display in the museum, both under the Juggling Jacksons name as well as in the Rare and Innovative Clubs section of the collection. However, Lee and Lois Jackson also gave us permission to auction off or simply sell extra props to help support the museum. While we haven’t done this yet, we are open to offers for some of the props that are in storage. You can inquire with me if you’d like to learn more about how you can own some of these great pieces of juggling history and help to keep the juggling museum growing. Click here to visit the museum website.
While Scott and I went down to Tennessee only expecting to get props from the Juggling Jacksons, it turned out that we were also going to be offered some other amazing props that belonged to another famous juggling group. Remember those tennis rackets we left behind? Well, there’s a story behind those and some other props that were with the Jacksons, but you’ll have to wait for Part 2 of this article to learn that part of the story and to see some never before released video of this mystery juggling act!!!