Richard Joseph Swarbrick was a proud Scotsman - except that he wasn't Scottish. After traveling The Road to Nowhere I knew that he wasn't born or raised in Glasgow.
I have evidence that he didn't leave home as a young man but was in fact still living with his parents in Preston as late as 1909. I have a postcard that he sent to his brother George Leo in which he describes going to a football match between Preston and Sunderland. Although the card is undated, the match he refers to was played in Preston on 6 February 1909, when Granddad was 24. Postcard to Leo from Richard
Was he ever called "The Human Top"? I'm not sure and don't know if we will ever find out. He was certainly a talented roller-skater and, according to his niece Elsie he was, "...going to take America by storm". Unfortunately, when he arrived in America he found that every kid on every street corner had roller skates.

As for his accident while attempting to jump 12 chairs, this may be true. Again, we may never know.

He was nowhere near San Francisco at the time of the great earthquake and fire of 1906. As I have noted above, he was still in England as late as 1909 and probably didn't make the journey to America until about 1911.

It is true that he was living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by about June 1913, and did meet my grandmother by throwing an onion at her, but as far as I can gather, he never changed his religion.

His father never threatened to disown or disinherit him because his father never knew that he got married or even planned to marry.

His parents, especially his mother, spent the rest of their days wondering what had become of him.

So what is the truth?


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IMAGE NOTE: Postcard from the Elsie Banks collection.