Chang and Eng: cojoined

When it was announced that conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker, best known as The Siamese Twins, were planning to come to France in 1831, French authorities were so afraid of the effect the men, then 20, would have on France’s women that they banned their entrance into the country.

While the concept of conjoined twins — two independent people permanently joined as one — is intriguing for many reasons, few aspects spur as much curiosity as how two such people live romantic, sexual lives.

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“The Lives of Chang & Eng:
Siam’s Twins in Nineteenth-Century America”
by Joseph Andrew Orser
(UNC Press)

According to author Joseph Andrew Orser’s new book, “The Lives of Chang & Eng,” the Bunkers, born in Siam in 1811 and connected at the midsection by a fleshy band several inches long, were spotted in their teens by a British merchant who first thought they were “some strange animal.” When they turned 18, he made a deal to bring them to America and exhibit them as public curiosities.

Upon their arrival, they were subject to countless medical inquiries. One doctor, testing their connecting band with needles to determine sensitivity, found that “both boys drew away from punctures at the middle of the band, whereas at half an inch or more from the center, only the twin on that side felt the pain.”

He also found that “when one experienced a sour taste, the other did as well,” and that “tickling one of them resulted in the other demanding a stop to it.”

More than their connective similarities, though, the public wondered about the boys’ potential sex lives. One story held that Chang interfered in one of Eng’s pursuits, and that, according to one newspaper, “the brothers would have engaged in a duel, but ‘the parties could not agree on a distance.’ ” This and other tales were more than likely unfounded, but provided opportunities for public mockery.

“The prospect of the twins engaging in sexual relations with women disturbed sensibilities,” Orser writes. “Concerns existed about the impact that the twins conjoinedness might have on women of childbearing age.”

In one extreme example, when a woman in Kentucky gave birth to stillborn conjoined twins, she “claimed she had seen numerous representations of the twins in newspaper advertisements around the time she conceived her children, which affected her imagination.”

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The twins in 1865Getty Images

The brothers gained fame as freaks, and saw opportunity as Americans. After a decade on the sideshow circuit, having saved some money, they retired, bought land in North Carolina, and set out to create lives for themselves as proper Southern gentlemen. They bought property, became US citizens, and even took on slaves — ironic, considering that throughout their early lives here, many questioned whether, despite their firm denials, they were slaves themselves.

In 1843, Chang and Eng married, respectively, sisters Adelaide and Sarah Yates, daughters of a respected local landowner. While the girls had a “fair share of suitors,” the brothers had gotten to know them over several years, often visiting upon their return from business travels, and befriending the entire family.

When the couples “made their intentions to marry known by riding together in an open wagon,” one report of the time cites how “all hell broke loose.” “A few men ‘smashed through some windows at [the girls’ father’s] farm house,’” and some of his neighbors “threatened to burn his crops if he did not promise to control his daughters.”

The local media reacted to the unions with jibes. The Carolina Watchman, in a post titled “Marriage Extraordinaire,” wished for the marriage to be “as happy as it will be close.” Another paper inquired as to whether the women ought to be indicted for “marrying a quadruped.”

Northern newspapers were appalled, as abolitionist papers placed “responsibility for the union squarely on a South contaminated by the sin of slavery.” One paper even called the marriage “bestial,” and referred to the tolerant local residents as “a community sunk below the very Sodomites in lasciviousness.”

For their part, though, the two couples — and they were, unquestionably, two distinct couples, coming to live in separate homes, with the brothers alternating half weeks in each — sought little more than normal lives.

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The Bunker Siamese twins with their wives, who were sistersGetty Images

But many among the public and the media, having barely brought themselves to tolerate the brothers’ existence, found the concept of intimate relations between them and “normal” women a step too far.

Each wife gave birth in 1844. While no details survived about how the couples conducted their intimacy, it’s worth noting that the brothers’ first children were born six days apart, and a later pair eight days. (They would go on to have an astounding 21 children between them.)

When the twins, in need of money, later returned to touring exhibitions, this time bringing two of their children along, many refused to accept this unconventional family.

As they traveled through England, some in the British press “doubted whether the ‘family’ was even real,” Orser writes. “For some, it was too ‘disgusting’ to imagine these ‘human monsters’ as husbands or fathers.”

In 1870, Chang suffered a stroke that “paralyzed his right side, the side closest to his brother.” Eng nursed him back to relative health as Chang “tied up his right leg in a sling” and, using both a crutch and his brother’s arm, went about his daily routine.

But he never returned to full health, and took to drinking. A lingering cough later turned vicious, and he died on Jan. 17, 1874. His brother, complaining of ill health, asked his son to check on his brother. Told that Chang had passed, Eng replied, “Then I am going.”

Over the next hour, he “suffered intense pain and distress, a cold sweat covering his body. The only notice he took of his dead twin was to move his body nearer to him.”

Two-and-a-half hours after losing his brother, Eng Bunker died.

Jumbo the Elephant

During his lifetime, Jumbo was the biggest elephant in captivity. He was born in Africa in 1860 or 1861, and spent most of his life entertaining and giving rides at the London Zoo. Due to his size and notoriety, P.T. Barnum decided he needed Jumbo in his circus. Despite objections by the British people, Barnum bought Jumbo in 1882 and shipped him to America where he was greeted upon his arrival by a crowd of 10,000 hoping to get a glimpse of the famous animal.

Matthew “Scotty” Scott, a zookeeper who had been put in charge of Jumbo when he first arrived in London, remained with the elephant ever since. He had trained Jumbo, shared a bottle of beer with him every night before bed, and was the only person who could keep Jumbo in control. For this reason, Barnum hired Scotty to maintain this role.

Jumbo spent three years touring with Barnum’s circus before the tragedy that took his life.

On September 15, 1885, Jumbo was struck and killed by a freight train while the circus was unloading on the rails in Canada. As Barnum told the story, Jumbo was trying to save a dwarf elephant named Tom Thumb from the oncoming train when it hit him, instead. Tom Thumb survived with nothing more than a broken leg.

Jumbo died at a railway classification yard in Canada at St. Thomas, Ontario. While out exercising, he tripped and fell on train tracks, impaling himself on his tusk and dying instantly. Shortly after his death, an unexpected locomotive ran over his body.[9] Barnum told the story that he died saving a young circus elephant, Tom Thumb, from being hit by the locomotive, but other witnesses did not support this. The most popular version of the story has the elephant being struck and killed by the locomotive.[10]

Barnum’s story says that the younger elephant, Tom Thumb, was on the railroad tracks. Jumbo was walking up to lead him to safety, but an unexpected locomotive hit Tom Thumb, killing him instantly. Because of this, the locomotive derailed and hit Jumbo, killing him too. According to newspaper accounts at the time, the freight train hit Jumbo directly, killing him, while the other elephant suffered a broken leg.[11]

Many metallic objects were found in the elephant’s stomach, including English pennies, keys, rivets, and a police whistle.[b]

Ever the showman, Barnum had portions of his star attraction separated, in order to have multiple sites attracting curious spectators. After touring with Barnum’s circus,[13] the skeleton was donated to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where it remains.[14] The elephant’s heart was sold to Cornell University. Jumbo’s hide was stuffed by William J. Critchley and Carl Akeley, both of Ward’s Natural Science, who stretched it during the mounting process; the mounted specimen traveled with Barnum’s circus for two years.[13]

Barnum eventually donated the stuffed Jumbo to Tufts University, where it was displayed at P.T. Barnum Hall there for many years. The hide was destroyed in a fire in April 1975.[14] Ashes from that fire, which are believed to contain the elephant’s remains, are kept in a 14-ounce Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter jar in the office of the Tufts athletic director, while his taxidermied tail, removed during earlier renovations, resides in the holdings of the Tufts Digital Collections and Archives.[10]

What is interesting to me is the death of the elephant.   In one story the elephant tripped and died on its own tusk.  Barnum the manipulator told a different tale, which although never collaborated has the elephant trying to save a dwarf elephant from harm.  We can deceive by manipulating the truth.  History buries facts and fiction and mixes them up all the time.

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Nightmare: Rock On.

  • Hilltop Glimpses: April 2013

 

 

A nightmare in a rocking chair.

The cat awoke from its long lasting nap,

It stretched in the lap of the old woman.

It wanted to be scratched.  It purred and snuggled.

But then the smell of food got its attention.

It leaped down and went to the bowl to catch the few scraps left.

Then it went back to the lap.

No petting occurred even though he meowed.

Wake up owner and pet me he meowed.

But his murmurs went unanswered.

Ten days later they found the old woman because of the smell.

The cat was very hungry but at least it did not starve.

It eat tough old flesh with little meat but at least it was some substance.

smiling cat need dental checkup
And her dentures fit.

Shaman

The shaman was faced with a dilemma. The British were on the hill and fortified. His village was in jeopardy. They were armed with guns and bullets and his villagers only had their spears. He needed a way to get them to attack the British. Going uphill was not the problem. The men of the village were warriors and in good shape. But against bullets?

He devised his plan. He had the women of the village make  necklaces with a bead hanging in the middle. He then presented the necklaces to the men and blessed the amulets. He said that if the men truly believed they would be protected from the bullets. He then had the men dance around the fire and drink from the plant that made them exceedingly high.

Now high and protected the men of the village attacked. They went slow for they feared for their lives.

The British on the hill saw the villagers and figuring to scare them shot over their heads.

The bullets whizzed by and the villager men held the spears up and with the other hand grabbed their amulets. The amulets had obviously protected them. They gained speed and moved swifter. Then the British had no choose. They fired directly into the villagers and some bullets hit their mark.

But now the villagers figured that those hit had not believed and that is why they were hit.

Within minutes they took the hill. On return to the village they were in belief that the shaman was most powerful and it was he who had given them the ability to defeat a mighty enemy.

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The Necklace of Death

On March 25th, 2012 Nick La Shea ran down to his car carrying a bag of antiquities he had just stolen from the museum. He sped away and immediately went to his client’s house. As he drove he thought of his haul and the amount of money he would be paid for his nights work.

Nick was evil with a capital E. He had no conscious and would gladly sell his mother if it would give him a good penny. Only one thing scared Nick and that was death.

He spread out his haul on the table in Mr. X’s house. Funny but of all the objects one seemed to fascinate Mr. X. It was a necklace with an inscription on it.

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Nick asked for a translation and Mr. X stated, “Hold me tight and your wish will come to light”

Almost on a lark Nick grabbed the necklace and wished to live forever.

In an instance Mr. X clutched his heart and keeled over dead. Nick felt a surge come over him.

In the back of his mind he wondered if he had gained the life span of Mr. X added to his life. He repackaged the artifacts and added to the haul and left the house. He figured he would fence it to another of his contacts. During the next few hours he went to different locations and used the necklace to add to his life. At least that was what he thought was happening. In each case he would get a victim alone and then grabbing the necklace make the same wish. In each case the person picked for their young age would keel over dead and the surge would occur in Nick’s body.

Nick figure that if he were correct he had added over one hundred years to his life span. He would now by his mindset live until at least one hundred and seventy years.

But Nick was greedy and wanted more. In his vile mind he decided on a despicable plan. He would go to the local hospital and their maternity ward. There he would have access to many years to be added to his life. Sixty years a shot from a least a dozen just born babies would do it.

He parked across from the hospital and with this horrible plan in mind crossed the street.

The bus driver could not believe it. The man he just hit seemed to be preoccupied with something and had crossed in front of him like he was in a trance. The bus had sent him flying. Deep in his gut the bus driver felt he had killed him. To his amazement he found out later that the man was still alive.

Nick lay in the hospital attached to tubes and monitoring machines. He was conscious but in intense pain with a morphine drip. He couldn’t talk and if he could what could he say.

The doctors were amazed. Nick should be dead but instead lived, if you want to call it living, in the hospital hooked to machines for one hundred and thirty years. Unfortunately the necklace worked so well.

Supertime: a time of piece of the pie and peace of mind or is it?

Suppertime:  a time to eat after the day was over with.  And then one night it changed.  There was mom, dad and me sitting down.  But this night there was no talking.  Mom stared at Dad and there was hatred coming from her eyes.  Finally, Mom said something which sent chills down my spine.  She asked my Dad, “are you a man or a mouse?”

 

Dad did not reply.  Instead he got up and went to the bathroom.  He was in there over twenty minutes.  Mom said to me, “go check up on your father.”

 

I went to the bathroom door and knocked.  There was no answer.  I started to get worried.  I tried the door knob and it turned.  I opened the door slowly.  Dad was not in the bathroom.  He was nowhere to be found.  I did not see him leave the apartment.  It was as if he vanished.

Mom contacted the police and filled out the police report.  Distinguishing characteristics included that dad had one green eye and one brown eye.  Otherwise just a regular guy.

 

It was a couple of days later and as I lay in my bed I heard a noise from the hamster cage.  I put on the light in my room and checked on Robbie the Hamster.  There in his cage was what was left of Robbie.  A bloodied corpse.  And eating the flesh was a mouse.  I was enraged.  I was going to scream but then I noticed the mouse looked at me.  In fact, he starred at me.  He starred with his eyes.  One was green and the other brown.  I cleaned up the mess and this mouse became my pet.  I know what you’re thinking but that is crazy.  Anyway, this mouse did tricks.  It seemed to be rather intelligent.

 

Mom got a job at a factory and that is where she met Harry.  Within a month, Harry started to come over.  It made me sick.  They carried on

With hugs and kisses behind closed doors.  I did not like the guy but we did have food on the table and the rent got paid.

 

The next month Harry moved in.  I stayed mostly in my room and played with my mouse.  I know it sounds crazy but I talked to him.  Of course, he did not talk back.  But he seemed to listen.

 

Harry started to change.  Beer appeared in the refrigerator and he seemed to drink a lot of it.  When he did that he became aggressive and nasty.  Then it happened.  He struck my mom.  I tried to help her but he pushed me back into my room.  Later he apologized to us and said it would never happen again.

 

But it did. It started to happen frequently.

 

One night it got bad.  He hit my mom and went after me.  I retreated to my room and put the lock on the door.  It was a cheap chain lock and he broke in with a giant push against the door.  Mousy was in its cage and stood up on his hind legs.  I hid under the bed and I am a little hazy with what happened next.  There appeared a blinding light.  It was green with brown highlights.  Harry was in the door frame entering my room with blood in his eyes.  Then the light and he disappeared.  I looked and he was gone.  My mom and I searched the house but he was nowhere to be found.  My had a black eye and bruises on her arm.  We were relieved he was gone and secretly hoped he would never come back.  Then the silence in the room was broken as there was a knock on the door.

 

We jumped.  We both were scared.  Mom went to the door and opened it.  There in the doorway was my dad.  With the door opened he came in and hugged both of us.  No words were said.  Just hugs.  Dad was home and never said where he was.

 

They made like the incident never happened.  And now at supper time we sit around the table and there are smiles, hope for the future and a new baby on the way.  Supper time is great.

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Songs for the people

The songs of the people:

President Trump: I can get no satisfaction.

Sean Spicer: No more lies (By Iron Maiden)

Hillary Clinton: (on her husband- Your cheating heart)

Putin: Walter Murphy – Russian Dressing (1976) Give it a listen!

Kim Jong Il : Crazy in Love (Beyonce)

Xi Jinping: Beware false prophets, take a stand

My fortune cookie cracked up in my hand

More advice to fill up your head

More empty words from the living dead

 

Congress: Turn, Turn, Turn

Or as Gump would say you never know what you get in a box of chocolates.