PPPP - Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why 4 P's in the subject heading?  Because it was easier than writing "The peerless prodigies of physical phenomenon."  This is the description given to the members of the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth's "great presentation of marvelous living human curiosities." Seriously, that's more wordy than the average politician!  But it's still a great poster.  We challenge you to locate it in the Toy Box, here at the American Treasure Tour, but forewarn you that it will not be easy to find.  It's partially hidden behind some of our band organs, which is a shame, because it's a great piece of art and a wonderful dip into sideshow history.

The original poster was printed in 1898 to advertise Barnum & Bailey's special cast prior to their beginning a grand tour of Europe.  It includes some classic performers:  The Bearded Lady, the Human Skye Terrier, the Moss-Haired Girl, the Sword Swallower, the Double-Bodied Wonder, and the Living Skeleton, the Congo Giant (or, in some posters, the Egyptian Giant, depending on the staff that day).  All these and more were to be found at one location!  Traditionally, Barnum would have called them freaks, but the group protested, happily replacing the word with "prodigies."  Can't say I blame them!
QUESTION:  What is the real name of the Bearded Lady, fourth person to the left?
A)  Ismarelda Breckenridge
B)  Annie Jones
C)  Myra Smith
D)  Charity Penscott

THAT SCHOOL IN MASSACHUSETTS BAY.  The New College was established in 1636.  At the time, it had no buildings, teachers or students, but that would change soon enough.  It served a noble purpose and would establish itself as one of the most prestigious schools in the world over the next century or three.  But it was on this day in 1639 that it received its name, in honor of one of its founders and early benefactors:  John Harvard.  Harvard the man died at the age of thirty, the year before, and donated much of his wealth to the development of the school.  Who could have guessed his name would live on, and be associated to so prominent an institution.  Great planning, John!

YOU'RE MAD!  Oh sure, we could have celebrated the birth of L. Ron Hubbard today, but when you can celebrate a man like Al Jaffee instead, you kind of have to go with it - no offense intended to any followers of Mr. Hubbard's doctrines.  Al, born in 1921, turns 94 today.  If you don't know his name, that means you have not read enough Mad magazine.  He is the artist who primarily draws the "Fold-In" section on the back page, and he continues to share his humor and skill to this day.

QUOTE:  Serious people my age are dead. - Al Jaffee

ANSWER:  B)  Annie Jones.  Although this is true (based on research done by a specialist in sideshow history), we didn't really expect you to know this.  It wasn't a nice question.  Sorry about that.