I resolved to see the world with my own eager eyes. So I ran away from home, and in this way made an early acquaintance with the corrugated side of life.
I joined a small circus, and soon learned to conduct the Punch and Judy show, to do a ventriloquial act, and to play town clown on the bars — “gol darn it.” I also doubled in brass — that is, I beat the cymbals. I here gained the experiences that possibly ripened me into the world’s Handcuff King and Prison Breaker — a title which i have justly earned.
But there was a time when I was not recognized as I am now. Those were the days of small things. That was in the middle West.— The Right Way to Do Wrong by Harry Houdini
Houdini wasn’t a great writer, but he writes plainly and occasionally turns a great phrase.
I read this while researching thieves and con men for a project that I still haven’t quite found the right way into.