On the 16th of February, 1907, Clarence Melvin Burkhart was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Young Melvin dreamt of being a prize fighter but his boxing career was not illustrious: he fought in six matches and lost every single one. His nose was broken so badly in the final match that he had 22 pieces of bone removed after the fight. He realised that he now had a large gap in his cranial cavity which marked the start of his career as the Human Blockhead. He took to the circus with an exciting act: hammering a steel spike up his nose.
His illustrious 6-year career included acts as a contortionist, sword swallower, a fire eater and a knife thrower. But at the age of 92, he was still offering to show his first famous act at the drop of a hat.
He offered to perform his famous Human Blockhead routine, not seen on stage for years, right there in his kitchen. Out came the hammer. Out came the huge steel spike. Out came the banter, nearly as old as the man himself.
Tap, tap, tap. He hammered the spike up into his nose one inch at a time and bellowed: ”Ladies and gentlemen! This is a real spike, this is a real hammer, this is a real head!”
CLANG! He winced.
”Ooh, I think I hit a bone. Well, whaddaya expect from a bonehead? Now this is a good way to get iron into your system!”
CLANG! The sound rang pure as a church bell. CLANG! The spike had nearly vanished into Melvin’s crazy old head.
”And this is a good way to get iron out of your system!”
Melvin grabbed the spike with the claw end of his hammer and wrenched it out of his nose, flinging it to the floor in triumph. I burst into applause, thrilled and amazed.
Clarence died at the age of 94.
On the 16th of February in 2013, he would have been 106. And on that day, the following photographs were thrown into the ring:
And here are the stars in spangly costumes who submitted them:
Why don’t you join us? It’s easy:
- Take a photograph on a Saturday
- Upload the photograph
- Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url
I’m looking forward to seeing your Saturday Scene in the next edition!