|By James C. Haught|
Robert Pershing Wadlow paid a visit to Grantsville in 1939.
I was in Miss Hova Hall's (later Hova Underwood, First Lady of West Virginia) first grade class at Grantsville Grade School. She took us on a field trip downtown to see the world's tallest man.
There was a very large crowd. After awhile a car pulled up in front of Calhoun Super Service. Two men sat in the back seat. When the door opened one of the men sitting in the back seat had his feet where the front seat had been. When Wadlow got out of the car his waist was level with the top of the car.
I had never seen a man so tall as this one. Neither had anyone else. At 8 foot and 11" he was the tallest human being that has ever lived.
He climbed a step ladder onto a flatbed truck and sat down in a chair. He stuck out his shoe covered feet, his shoe was 37AA. When he crossed his feet they were the length of a child. He said his shoes cost $100 but that we could buy a much cheaper pair of shoes at Straders Department Store, a Grantsville Main Street business.
The town of Grantsville was like a carnival. Not only was Robert Wadlow the featured attraction there were a lot of side shows.
The one I remember most clearly was a Medicine Show.
The medicine man held high a bottle of brown liquid. He said. "Two table spoons of this medicine will make you stronger. It will cure 75% of your aliments. Lumbago, arthritis, over active bowels, with constipation a thing of the past."
Next he reached into a box and pulled out a huge lizard. "This is a gila monster from New Mexico. It is very weak right now from traveling such a huge distance.
Then he asked, "Does anyone have a rattlesnake?" Greatly to my surprise, someone in the crowd raised a burlap sack and said. "I do."
In my seven years I had never seen a rattlesnake,but here was a man carrying one around in a burlap bag. The man handed the medicine man the sack.
He put the rattlesnake in a box.
He then took an eye dropper and put some of the medicine into the gila monsters' mouth. Then he put the gila monster and the rattlesnake together the box.
There was a bit of commotion and noise coming out of the box. About a minute later the man reached into the box an pulled out the rattlesnake. Its head had been bitten off.
This feat greatly increased the sale of the medicine.
To a first grader this was all very exciting. To this day I am sure that one could not have seen an equivalent show on Broadway.
See SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - World's Tallest Man Came To Grantsville