WARD HALL of Trenton, Neb., stands outside of World of Wonders show at the Bloomsburg Fair.  The show is the last of its kind, according to Hall, who has been at the fair every year since 1968 and has run this show consistently for the past 11 years.  In the background on stage, John Powell holds an Albino Burmese Python, Norbert "Poobah" Terhurne gets ready to swallow fire and Chris Christ co-owner of the show, sells tickets

 

BLOOMSBURG - If another "Schlitzie the Monkey Girl" came along, Ward Hall probably wouldn't put her in his World of Wonders Sideshow.

 

Many years ago the girl, abandoned by her prominent parents, was adopted by circus people.  Her main caregiver died when she was in her 70s, and Schlitzie was taken to a mental institution on the West Coast.

 

By chance, a sword swallower who worked at the hospital in the off-season noticed Schlitzie (who was really a male) in the waiting room.  He knew the monkey girl from working the sideshows and told doctors about her carnival background.

 

After a mental evaluation, doctors said the disfigured girl liked attention and wouldn't survive in an institution.  The sideshow was the best place for her, surrounded by caring carnival people.

 

The girl was a "wonderful attraction," but was mentally incompetent, said Hall, one of the last purveyors of curiosities still working the fair and carnival circuit.  She suffered from microcephaly, a condition where the skull does not grow properly.

 

Sideshow owners often traded human oddities, and Hall worked with Schlitzie in 1968. She even appeared at the Bloomsburg fair that year.

 

Photo courtesy of - Tom Adams Press Enterprise

Except from the article "Schlitzie the Monkey Girl" in the Press Enterprise courtesy of - Michael T. Burkhart

 


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