Tuesday, October 5, 2010


When I was a kid my Mom would find all kinds of things for my brother and I do. On those long summer days when Mom needed a "babysitter" she would often drop us at the multiplex. She instructed us to watch a movie and then move to the next theater and watch another. She would pick us up about 4 or 5 hours later. Everyone in a better mood.

If the State Fair was in town she sometimes dropped us off there. I remember the midway at the fair. The huge ferris wheel, cotton candy tons of lights and my favorite, the air guns that were used to shoot targets.

This was the late 60's early 70's. This was Mobile, Alabama. Things were different. What was different you ask? Well to start with blind faith wasn't just a rock band, but a way of life. Drugs, pedophiles, child slave labor, who knew? And if we did know we had to tell ourselves "not in Mobile, this couldn't happen here". And it didn't happen here. No one ever bothered us, no one ever tried to get us to try drugs or tried to get us to get in their van with the offer a cute puppy or candy. Good thing cause I would have gone for it.

Just like I went for Lobster Boy, god bless his soul.


See my little brother and I are at the fair. Alone. We must have been 9 or 10 years old, so no big deal. It wasn't like it was night time or anything. Back then "freaks" were a big part of these traveling carnivals. You know the bearded lady, the fattest man in the world, the 2 headed cat and so on.
The one that attracted us was a sign for Lobster Boy. Pincher's for hands and feet. Step right up ladies and gentlemen and little kids to see the freakiest freak on earth. Little brother stubbed out his cigarette and said "hell yes" that's for us. So we bought our ticket and entered the tent. I'm am 48 years old now and still remember how weird this was. Just me, my brother and Lobster Boy. He was in a cage like the ones on wagon wheels. He was about 3'tall and was no boy. He was a full grown, 3' tall man with what looked like the meat of lobster claws for hands and feet. They were the shape of pincher's, but all flesh. He was sitting cause who could stand on feet like that? He was smoking a cigarette and told us to come closer. I remember us standing right in front of the glass panel between him and us and my jaw was just hanging. So was little brothers. He spoke through a microphone and it gave his voice a crackly, scary sound. He smoked and told us of his condition. He ask us if we wanted to buy photos of Lobster Boy. I bet we didn't say shit. I bet we just looked at him as if he was some kind of freak. He probably had to tell us to leave cause I'm sure we were to stunned to do anything. Some of you are now saying to yourselves "that explains a lot about those Hartley boys".

The reason I'm telling you this is cause the other day the fair was in East Point, just around the corner from where my wife and I live. It is in town often and often we go for a walk just to check it out. The other night Stacey and walked through the midway at night. I wanted Stacey to get some photos. It reminded me of Lobster Boy. I told Stacey all about it and how much these traveling fairs have changed. No freaks. But, Stacey did get some cool photos.

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