I wanted to mention the traveling medicine show that used to come to New Gretna in the summer. Maybe you have had something on that I missed. I went with my Dad, I was probably 7 or eight at the time. It was in the mid thirties. The performers set up their stage on the back of an old model truck next to the Knights of Pythias hall, across from Donald Maxwell's home, on
New York Road(Rt. 9). I remember that the performers were not locals. I also remember the older fellows in town throwing tomatoes at the performers. They kept the tomatoes hidden in a basket under the steps of the KP building. I can remember a tomato hitting a fat lady playing the piano, got her right in the back.
When the Medicine Show came to New Gretna, it set up next to the Knights of Pythias Hall on New York Road, now Rt. 9. It got the whole town a buzzin'. (Photo courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)
This old photo of a medicine show is probably more elaborate than those that stopped by little old New Gretna; however, the idea of gathering a crowd by providing entertainment to sell some bottled medicine was universal. There usually was a singer and comedian to appeal to the crowd, inter spaced with the slick pitch of a medicine man selling the elixir to cure all ills. Wonder if these folks ever had to dodge a tomato?
We also had a Medicine Show come to town every summer. Everybody went to it out of curiosity, I believe, because those shows were so awful they were funny. The company had a flat bed truck which they pulled up between the old Knights of Pythias Hall and the little restaurant near the corner of Rt. 9 and
South Maple Avenue. Both of these buildings have since been demolished. [Almira Cramer Steele]
The Medicine Show
Every summer, in the old days, they listened for a sound,
when they heard the ratt'lin wagons, it was time to gather 'round.
The medicine show they'd waited for was comin' down the road.
The horses' labored breathin' told they pulled a heavy load.
And when they pulled into the town the villagers looked on
to see the show they'd waited for upon the village lawn.
A horseback rider's daring tricks, it made the people gasp.
A cowboy sang about his gal, his voice a whining rasp.
A juggler kept half'dozen plates suspended in the air.
A pretty girl in spangles danced with a big, black bear.
Then, after entertaining with acting and with song,
the medicine man began his spiel, and brother, it was long!
"The elixir in this wagon you see lined up on the wall,
is guaranteed to help your kidneys, yur liver and your gall.
It cures a cough, it stops an itch, it eases aches and pains.
It calms your nerves, it strengthens bladders, use it on your sprains."
"Your horse's gimp, your husband's limp, ain't nothin' it won't cure.
A dollar for a bottle; of course, it's a hundred pure.
While we're here, might's well stock up; we'll soon be on our way.
Only a dollar for a bottle; sech a little price to pay."
Hard earned dollars changed hands, believing in its worth,
caught up in the fevor, the excitement, and the mirth.
Then, in a cloud of dust they watched the wagons disappear,
and went about their daily chores, until another year.
Lillian Arnold Lopez
Sloan's Liniment was one of the products sold at the Medicine Shows in the Tuckerton-New Gretna area. (Photo from Google Images.)
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