Were there Ever Real Freak Shows?


by Judy Tomaini Rock


The times between the days of the Born Freaks, as both my parents were, and the made freaks, were a LOT of years. Times and people change, and so does the world around us.


In the times around the 40's & 60's, and even before that, The generation you are now, the ages in the 20's, 30's, back then, didn't have many TV's and the technology, of computers and the vast wasteland of files, that can be searched at the touch of a finger. No wonder you wouldn't be interested in seeing a person, who has overcome great odds, to carve a nitch in history, by hard work and saving.


My parents built an empire, by being human oddities, and every sideshow they owned had a tattooed person, a dwarf doing the tattooing, a pincushion, a geek. There was also, a ladder of importance in the sideshows of the time, The top rung being held by the "freaks", or human oddities, as my parents were also the show owners. To my Mother, she felt she was just a person, and many of the working acts were the freaks,


The ones who occupied the next rung of the ladder, down, were the Sword Swallowers, fire eaters, and other working acts. The geek, when they had one, was the most disgusting creature there. But look at TV today with it's every week a new freak show, it would be a cold day in hell, when even the geeks, would eat some of the things that they do now a days on the tube. So to not pay to see a human oddity, where would you find one if you wanted to.


On TV, either being killed, to be separate of each other, or if they lived, they would still be different. We try so hard to emulate the freaks, when we really don't have enough understanding, of just what they have lived through all their lives, with the adversity, and outspoken tongues, of the younger generations.


This didn't happen back then. The "freaks" were respected for the hard times they had, and the wisdom they gained by just waking up in the morning, and having to get out of the bed. Try it some time.  Sit on the floor, beside a bed, cross your legs in front of you, and get your self into bed, only using your arms. Or better yet. sleep on your side in a little baby crib, where you couldn't stretch out, your knees on your stomach, since there wasn't enough room, to put 8 and a half feet, into a 6 foot bed. Then be rested enough the next day, to put in 16 hours of labor, keeping everything running smooth, and ditto again the next night.

Of course you didn't hop a plane, but you had to drive and a car, that was so small, your knees push on the dashboard. And even a slight fender bender, would break one or both of them. I know about that, as it happened to my Dad. Or to be in the same car, and sitting there with no legs for support, and being thrown into the dash, if an accident occurred. Or if the driver even hit the brakes, for some other reason, and because you didn't have an elbow on that arm, an automatic reflex to keep from going through the windshield, and since it was stiff, your broke the bones in your hand, which was also being used as a foot, for you to get around on.


I think the days of the freaks you mention, happened around Woodstock, in the 60's, not on the sideshows, as they were the Real People. Try walking up and down a ladder on your hands, or swinging on a swing and landing on your butt, as Mother did. Or even driving your own car, after never driving till you were 46, and your husband/wife died and leaves you with two children to raise on your own.


I must say, we were better people for the hardships we had. But, please, don't label people you know nothing about, till you have walked a mile in their shoes, or through the northern snow, with mittens on your hands, 3 miles to get to school, just to have an education.




Photographs, Courtesy of Judy Tomaini Rock, 2006 All Rights Reserved

Entry Banner on one of Al and Jeanie Tomaini's Sideshows

Al and Jeanie Tomaini.


2006 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

Published with the permission of Judy Tomaini Rock


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