at Bluffton
1908 - 1938

Buster Keaton
and the
Muskegon Connection

Ed Gray

Born: Unknown
Died: Unknown

     While he toured the country as the "Tall Tale Teller", not much else is known about Ed Gray.  Christened the Colony's historian and poet, Gray was a vaudeville monologist who, according to a 1917 newspaper review from Olean, New York, entertained crowds with “some very amusing stories and droll imitations” taken from life that “kept the audience convulsed with laughter to the very end.”
According to a 1915 Muskegon newspaper article, Gray sang one of his odes to Bluffton at a "Cobwebs and Rafters gala.  "To the air of 'Where the River Shannon Flows' Sergent Ed Gray, the famed 'Pidgeon Hill Poet,' sang in his resonant bass the following song, in which all joined in the chorus with great gusto, it being announced that the words of it antedated those of 'Take Me Back to Michigan"

There's a pretty spot in Michigan,
A place I'd like to fish again,
Where the fish like you to catch 'em,
Where Lake Michigan flows ---
Where the boats go like hellfire:
(if they don't then I'm a liar)
Go down there and inquire
Where old Lake Muskegon flows.
Where the actors live in summer
Where the weather is a hummer
Where the wall-eyed pike and white bass stay all the actors by ---
Where you quench your thirst at Pascoe's
Or get Green Creek at Cap Joe's:
Where you walk around in old clothes
Where old Lake Muskegon flows!

     According to Buster Keaton's remembrances, Gray was notoriously lazy. This trait lead to the creation of gadgetry and labor saving devices, including the "Ed Gray Awakener" - a Keaton-designed contraption that included a mechanical arm that would removed the sheet and blanket from Gray's bed, as well as a motorized means of shaking the bed until he awoke. Also, a feature of Gray's property was an outhouse, noted for it's collapsing walls.  While the location of his residence (and the infamous outhouse) is unknown, when Buster went to Hollywood he created similar devices for use in his films.  Classic examples of Buster's inventiveness can be seen in The Electric House and The Scarecrow.
July 24, 1915 - Billboard
Thanks Susan Buhrman