Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nicholas Sally, Freak Hunter

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle edition of February 21, 1921 reports out on a European shortage post WWI:

Nicholas Sally, freak hunter for the Dreamland sideshows at Coney Island and the Ringling Circus, has discovered one family in Berlin that did not suffer for lack of food during the war. It is made up of four brothers and two sisters, all of whom are under 23 years of age and weigh nearly 50 pounds each. Sally has arranged to take one of the brothers to America, along with a dozen other freaks he has picked up in various European countries, for exhibition during the coming season. 
‘They have been hard to find this season,’ he said, ‘for a great many died during the war. Human skeletons are the scarcest of all. I have combed Hungary, Austria, Poland and Germany, which head the list of so-called poverty-stricken countries, but have not found a single skeleton.

A man with a revolving head from Austria, a little woman who has fins instead of arms and two giants from Germany, a pair of midgets from Hungary, an English dwarf and a dog-faced man from Poland are the headliners of the collection of freaks that will start for America as soon as passport difficulties are cleared up.

‘Europe is the place to come for the special sideshow attractions,’ said Sally, who believes that the intermingling of races and intermarriages within families here are partly responsible for their great abundance. They plead for a chance to go to America for a year, and possibly longer if they make good, and get passage paid both ways, but demand much higher wages than they are paid here, for they believe the United States is a land where gold flows freely. Some of the freaks will be exhibited in Philadelphia and New York until the circus and Coney Island seasons open.

E.T. Benson also is in Germany making arrangements to ship to the United States the animals and trainers John Ringling obtained from the Hagenbeck Menagerie at Hamburg a few weeks ago.”

Of course, human freaks are not the only game in town, then or now, are they?

While rare and novel animals are an attraction, so too are odd looking common animals, such as dogs, and never mind if, with the oddity, comes a lifetime of pain, dysfunction, or early death. That would be regrettable, but really The Show Must Go On.  And besides, they're just dogs!

Lionel the Lion Faced Man at right.

Tom Leppard, the Leopard Man of Sky at right.

Schlitzie the pinhead at right, around 1935.

"Happy Jack" Eckert at right, 1918.

Unknown female sideshow performer with extra skin at right.

Six-toed Lundehund foot at right.

At left, Welsh giant George Auger (8' 6" tall), with
Tom Sordie (29") poking out through the coat tails.

No comments: