Sep 2, 2009

The Mighty Atom

Years ago, at the Allentown Fair, as one would push through a sea of carney delusion, tucked back by the 4H animals, was an island of reality. There, in an old battered truck, an ancient Jewish strongman performed incredible feats of strength, to sell only homemade kosher soap. Standing on a platform on the rear of his truck, flanked by photographs from his performing youth, he would bent horse shoes and bite through nails. Many years earlier, my mother as a little girl in Bethlehem, saw him pull a truck uphill with his hair. Even as an old man, like a reincarnation of Samson, his grey hair was still long.
In the summers of 1964 and 1965, myself and a friend,(Fred Schoenk, retired Allentown art teacher) made and sold printed tee-shirts at the fair. We had the honor to know Joseph Greenstein(The Mighty Atom) and his wife. For those interested, there are various articles on the Mighty Atom and even at least one book. Enjoy the fair!



LVCI said...

My brother would spend days going to the fair just to talk with 'The Mighty Atom' who would take the time to speak endless hours with a kid willing to listen.

WIKI has this to say about The Mighty Atom"

" In 1914, a Texas man obsessed with Greenstein's wife shot him between the eyebrows from a distance of 30 feet. Amazingly, Greenstein left the hospital on the same day - the bullet did not enter his skull, but was flattened by the impact. This experience sparked Greenstein's interest in the mental powers associated with strength.."

It was those things he discussed with my brother unendingly.

LVCI said...

One of my long ago memories of the fair was sitting alongside Dopey Duncan as he did his remote broadcast from the 30' long red WKAP broadcast trailer at the fair.

Just outside the broadcast trailer crowds would gather to just watch the old AP machine clickity clacking away printing the news on reams of folded paper in anticipation of later watching Dopey perform on a platform stage out front.

He would sometimes perform a routine in a straw hat, cane and red striped jackets alongside Bob Newman and sometimes Les Baer. Or do his 'dumb Dutchman' jokes. Other times strum his way through 'Mule train' on his acoustic guitar. Dopey wanted to be another Frankie Laine (Mule Train) in his teens.

Dopey went on to become almost a local hero helping kids to stay out of trouble with his local racing club as spoken here in this March 24, 2009 article in TMC

Dopey help to make the fair what it once was alongside Yoccos, The Mighty Atom, Jack the Blanket Man, DP's Waffle stand, Mountainville Little League food stand, the Beer Garden, New Orleans Review, motorcycles 'Barrel of Death', Ron "Punkin" Miller, Candy Candido (official ambassador of the fair in those days), and so many more.

dick nepon said...

I also used to sit and talk to Greenstein, after being introduced by my grandfather as the man who taught him how to roll his stomach muscles. They both had Newark in their backgrounds. My grandfather at the time was probably under 45, and I was under 10. But I will always remember the Mighty Atom and his character. Thanks for the memories.