The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred-Sixty-B


Elks Hold Big Fair

Wilbur E. Davis, the very first efficient cashier of the First National Bank of Grafton, was offered and accepted the position of treasurer of Citizen’s Guaranty and Trust company, one of the strongest financial institutions of the state and left Grafton to assume his new duties July 1, 1902. The best wishes of host of Grafton friends wish him all manner of success in this new position that came to him voluntarily.

Attorney Benjamin F. Bailey, chairman of the amusement committee of Grafton lodge No. 308, of Elks, went before the town council and asked permission to allow the Robinson Street Fair and Carnival company the use of Main street from the intersection at Latrobe to St. Mary’s Street for a benefit for the order. Mayor Green and the town council granted permission for the use of that part of the street asked for and by Monday afternoon, May 26,1902, West Main Street from the First National Bank to the site of the present post office was occupied by the first street fair to visit Grafton and completely blocking traffic except to pedestrians on that portion of the street.

The spielers and ballyhoo artists connected with the various attractions began shouting the wonders to be been with this aggregation. The big feature was Mademoiselle Aimee in fire, flower and serpentine dances under various colored lighting effects added greatly to the lady’s performances.

The Mystic palace was puzzling to those who crowded within its confines by the hypnotic display of the professor who used for his subject a young woman called Madame Lona, who in obedience to his spell caused the lady  to float in mid-air, while he passed a hoop about her body to illustrate there were no mechanical devices to hold her aloft. The illusion was good and mystifying. The Bijou theatre and Temple of Music ran moving pictures and vaudeville artists entertained the audiences with many bits of wit, humor singing and dancing acts. Hannah, the wild girl, and her brother, George, two freaks of nature, whose heads were out of all proportions in their smallness to the rest of their bodies, drew many of the gullible who listened to the fantastic spell of the barker connected with this attraction, who claimed these two people were captured alive in the bush of Australia by an expedition sent into the interior by Cecil Rhodes, the famous English explorer and brought to the United States especially for the Robinson Carnival company. They were a queer looking pair whose bodies were normally perfect, but whose heads were the size of a month-old infant.

Little Joe, whose figure was so covered with obese tissue it was claimed by the barker his weight was 642 pounds and was brought from Wirt county, West Virginia, his native home by the Robinson Carnival Company on account of his elephantine proportions. Jolly lad with a pleasing countenance seemed to enjoy being looked at and conversed with and proved to be one of the best attractions of the fair.

Memo, the Alligator Boy, whose epidermis front and back was ridged and seeming covered with scales that gave the lad a frightful appearance and most repellant to many of those who looked down into the pit at this freak.

Osco, the snake woman, who sat in her pit surrounded by snakes of various sizes and species on which she dined with evident gusto for the edification of her audience, who were attracted to witness her “eat ‘em alive” by the loud speiler with this attraction.

The attraction “Why Is Cow?” which had no cow or any other bovine attraction connected with this entertainment was just one of those affairs that held a slight-of-hand performer, who used a very good looking young woman in demonstrating his art and he was very good at this.

The Turkish harem with its group of women who executed oriental dances and dances copied from Biblical times during the reign of King Solomon, while not as gorgeously staged as those performed so long before, yet these women, who posed and executed these dances and dressed in the costumes of the days of Solomon, were picturesque and very good, the music of the reeds, tambourines and drums lent an oriental air to the dances and gyrations of the women dancers.

The high-drive given by Monsieur Gay, a daring Frenchman, who dropped from a towering 90 foot ladder into a tank on the street below, was a thrilling exhibition of nerve in this amazing leap the Monsieur completing two backward somersaults before striking the water. This spectacle at night was most effective when the tall ladder was lighted from bottom to top with electrical lights during the leap. This was one of the best features of the carnival.

The Ferris wheel and merry-go-round were especially attractive to the young folks and children who crowded both of these riding devices afternoons and nights.

Cane racks, cigar tossing stands, and other devices to lure coins from the pockets were plentiful and did their share of business during perhaps the nosiest week the town of Grafton ever knew. Then, when the hour of midnight was sounded by the historic old bell atop the old stone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the street attraction ended their tents, the freaks, performers and speilers hushed their chatter, the lights went out and they faded into the night. The town awoke on the Sabbath to its usual Sunday quiet with nothing except some scattered debris to indicate the town had had a hectic, and on the whole, an amusing and rather instructive event, different from anything ever to happen since its beginning and which could not happen now on account of the innumerable number of motor vehicles that travel this same length of street.

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