The Medicine Show Wagon and Doc McConnell

It started with Doc McConnell and his Medicine Show… well that and his wagon.  That is Doc in the photo on the left in front of his Medicine Show Wagon. Here is how it all began…

Several years ago I sat down next to Doc in downtown Jonesborough during the National Storytelling Festival and talked for a while.  As he puffed on his pipe I told him I was a district manager for a pharmaceutical company.  He laughed and suggested I ought to be doing a Medicine Show.  He actually was hoping to put a “Medicine Show School” together.

We laughed and talked for some time about Medicine Shows and he gave me some ideas.  I didn’t have a wagon, but he mentioned the “low pitch” Medicine Show – done with just a suitcase on legs.  Thus my “Doctor Ironbeard’s Traveling Medicine Show”  The name came from an old children’s song:

My name is Doctor Ironbeard! Twiddly-widdly-witt, boom boom!
I’ll cure your ilness, then you’ll cheer! Twiddly-widdly-wit, boom boom!
For I can make the deaf to see! Twiddly-widdlyy-wit, boom boom boom boom!
The blind will walk, because of me! Twiddly-widdly-wit, boom boom!
Legs attached to an old suitcase, a few antique bottles, a spiel and I was on my way.  Later I changed the name to Doc Hollen… easier to remember and better marketing for me.  Doc Hollen sells Snake Oil, tincture of Papyrus, Worm Extractor, Radium Water and the “Original Extract” – made with the purest ingredients like spring water, corn, sugar and yeast…

Over the next several years I would see Doc McConnell and update him on my Medicine Show.  Each time we talked about his Medicine Show School and he would suggest ideas for mine.  He was such a generous man.

That was cured by the purchase of an old Amish buggy that was renovated to the latest and most fashionable of Medicine Show Wagons mankind has ever known!

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