Freaks, Part 2

Tomorrow … We’re Taking Another Look at Portland, OR through the Eyes of SB Eamon

“I photographed what was billed as the “Freak Show” at the Brockton Fair in 1973, at a time when the name “freaks” was still being used. Needless to say, it is now recognized as not only politically incorrect but also offensive to people born with or acquiring various disabilities over which they have no control. I tried to portray these people in a way that showed their humanity, and as a group they appreciated the photos. The circus subsequently hired me to shoot live their performances. ” SB Jon (Cambridge Silverbacks)

“Willy the Fat Man” (how he was billed at the Brockton Fair “Freak Show” in 1973), stands on the steps of his personal trailer near the circus tent. (Jon Chase photo)

“Willy the Fat Man” (how he was billed at the Brockton Fair “Freak Show” in 1972), stands on the steps of his personal trailer near the circus tent. This is the first in a short series of photos from the Brockton Fair “Freak Show”, a name long since dismissed as politically incorrect and offensive. (Jon Chase photo)

A man billed as “The Dwarf” back in 1973, who would now be identified as having the condition of dwarfism, has a cup of coffee in his trailer before the show. People affected with dwarfism have a normal lifespan and usually have perfectly normal intelligence.

(Brockton, MA – 1973) – Second in a series of photos from the Brockton Fair “Freak Show” in 1973. A man billed as “The Dwarf” back then, who would now be identified as having the condition of dwarfism, has a cup of coffee in his trailer before the show. People affected with dwarfism have a normal lifespan and usually have perfectly normal intelligence. (Jon Chase photo)

Brockton Fair “Freak Show” sword swallower. This man was “normal” other than the fact he somehow shoved these swords about a foot and a half down his throat. (Jon Chase photo)

(Brockton, MA – 1973) – Brockton Fair “Freak Show” sword swallower. Jon Chase photo

Quadruple amputee Emmett proudly displays his signature, written on a blackboard with chalk held between his stumps. Emmett actually lived independently in his own apartment. Jon Chase photo

(Brockton, MA – 1973) – Brockton Fair “Freak Show”. Quadruple amputee Emmett proudly displays his signature, written on a blackboard with chalk held between his stumps. (Jon Chase photo)

Bill Cole, who allegedly lost his body below the waist when he was run over by a train, performs a pushup by lifting his upper body off the ground beside the circus tent. Jon Chase photo

(Brockton, MA – 1973) – Brockton Fair “Freak Show”. Bill Cole, who allegedly lost his legs when he was run over by a train, lifts his upper body off the ground beside the circus tent. Jon Chase photo


Jon Chase, University Photographer, Harvard Public Affairs and Communication

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