Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Zip the Pinhead

Mills of the gods

A good friend of mine referred to the current President of the United States as a "pinhead" today. I told him that he must be the last guy in America to use that expression. In an effort to see if I was right I Googled the term "pinhead" and found an interesting Wikipedia article on Zip the Pinhead.

Zip was not a pinhead in the traditional sense. That is he was not a micropheliac (characterized by a small tapering cranium and impaired mental ability). Zip just had, well, a pin head. A head that did not grow as his body matured. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that he was of average intelligence, and he was certainly not mentally deficent.

Fortunatly for Zip, back in the mid 19th century, you could make a pretty damn good living with just a pin head ,by displaying yourself. Zip's parents sold him to a circus, who in turn sold him to P.T. Barnum. The greatest and truest quote in American history is attributed to Barnum, "No man ever went broke by under estimating the taste of the public. " When Jerry Springer has midgets beating each other up on his show, he can trace a direct line back to Barnum.

Barnum named Zip "Zip the Pinhead" and actually told people that he was part of a tribe of "missing links" found in Africa. Barnum displayed him in a cage and had him shake the bars and run around growling. The Wikipedia article says that he was as popular as the original Siamese Twins.

He eventually went to work for Circus great John Ringling North in what used to be known as a "side show', or "freak show" where he met his long time friends Jim Traver, the Texas Giant, Jack Earle, the Tallest man in the world, and my personal favorite , Koo-Koo the bird girl. He worked in the show business for 67 years, a pretty good record, and was still working when he got bronchitis and died in the 20's. By then he held the respectable title "the Dean of Freaks". His funeral was attended by Madam Olga, the bearded lady and Frank Graf, the tatooed man, among others.

What really got my attention were his last words, "Well, we fooled 'em for a long time, didn't we ?" Somehow I think our current President, pinhead or not, probably said that back in November when all the votes came in.


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