Thursday, 17 March 2016

The thing? Exit 322 1-10 AZ

A couple of posts back, in "The man with two faces" piece I wrote, I mentioned that I found an awesome old photograph on a website called "The circus blog". 
Well I was browsing the site again earlier this morning because I just find it fascinating and I found pictures of some old mail order brochures aimed at sideshow owners who wanted to purchase faux shrunken heads and hand crafted oddities and the like. It sent me down a rabbit hole for an hour or so and resulted in this post about the man behind the creations, a man named Homer Tate. 

Homer Tate owned a curiosity shop in Phoenix, Arizona on East Van Buren Street and created various curiosities and oddities such as shrunken heads, wolf boys and hybrid animals that he would sell to sideshows and carnivals between 1940 and 1960. 

The crafts would be typically made by paper mache with animal bones and sometimes human or animal hair.

(Amazing photo's from sideshow word)

(Amazing photo's from sideshow word)

 If you’ve ever driven along interstate 10 between El Pasa and Tucson, you might have seen a series of yellow signs with black and red text reading “The thing, what is it?” The only way to know is to shell out 2 dollars and go see for yourself. Despite the remote location of the secretive attraction, many people have been curious enough to take a peak. What they’ll find there is three corrugated sheds with a faux cave aesthetic, each filled with items of curiosity and amongst them a car apparently used by Hitler and a mummified mother and child crafted by Tate himself. 

Although there were a lot of roadside oddities ran by local people out to make a dime from travelling Americans looking to make a pit stop during a long journey, Tate was well known in the sideshow circuit for his creations- so much so that he even had a mail order catalogue of creations for purchase.

 Today there are not many of Homer Tate’s creations out there, due to his strict Mormon family viewing his art pieces as abominations and getting rid of them while Homer was away. The few pieces that did survive are not in good shape due to the medium they were created in which is easily damaged. If found in good condition, a Tate oddity is a rare collectable piece.

Article in AZ Central [ X ]
Sideshow [ X ]
The thing Wikipedia [ X ]

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