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Victoria Woodhull

as told by Bette Lou Higgins, Artistic Director


The other event that most often happened during our 1830 “day in the life” program was the coming of The Medicine Man! Again, it was payday for the canalers and con men were on the lookout for good ways to separate the men from their money. This con artist team consisted of the Schill (generally an “innocent looking woman”), a “drunken corpse”, and the Medicine Man.

Picture it: early in the day, the schill would come to town asking everyone if they had heard that a medicine man was coming to town and that he had a special potion that could cure ANYTHING! She would tell them how excited she was to meet him because she needed him to cure “fill-in-the-blank” for her.

While she was doing this to generate excitement, our “drunken corpse would enter. This was a canaler who was apparently drunk. He was carrying a jug of “whiskey” in one hand from which he would keep drinking and a Love Apple (ie: tomato) in the other hand. He would wander around telling anyone who would listen a woeful tale about how his wife and children had left him because he had been gone too long working on the canal. He couldn’t bear to be without them and since he had lost his job on the canal there was nothing left to live for! He would kill himself by eating the Love Apple (at the time, many people believed tomatoes were poisonous, but it had started to come out that they weren’t).

Eventually, the Medicine Man would appear full of pomp and circumstance and gathering everyone around to hear all about his special potion that could cure all! When everyone was assembled, the Medicine Man would launch into the elaborate story about how he had come upon the magical medicine that would cure all. Then he would say that he had some bottles that he would sell to one and all for a measly 25 cents! The Schill would jump on it, but everyone else was generally skeptical. At that moment, the Drunken Corpse would come up front dramatically announcing he was going to end it all. The Schill would scream and the Medicine Man would “try” to stop him, but the depressed canaller would then take a big bite of the tomato. As everyone watched in horror, he would gasp and sputter and fall to the ground. The Medicine Man would jump to the rescue and administer his potion. Lo and behold! The canaler would cough and sputter and come to life! Of course, then all the villagers would have to buy the medicine. But in the process of his excitement, the Drunken Corpse would accidentally spill some of the bottles the Medicine Man had and an argument would ensue proving that the three of them were in cahoots! They would be run out of town by the enraged villagers!


Medicine Man makes a sale
The Medicine Man (John House) makes a sale to Essie Hopes ( Sandra Helene Melton)
The Medicine Man (John Houser) revives the "Drunken Cropse" as the Villagers look on in amazement!
Medicine Man helps the "Drunken Corpse"


To be continued ...

Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2
Go to Part 3 Go to Part 4
Go to Part 5 Go to Part 6
Go to Part 7 Go to Part 8

Go to Part 9

Go to Part 10
Go to Part 12
Go to Part 14
Go to Part 15 Go To Part 16
Go to Part 17 § § §




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