The Poetry of Everyday Life

Reciprocal Magic: When a Folklorist Meets a Sideshow Talker

Steve Zeitlin


Zeitlin, Steve. “The Poetry of Everyday Life: Reciprocal Magic: When a Folklorist
Meets a Sideshow Talker.” New York Folklore, vol. 48: 1-4, 2022, pp. 66-68.


Fred was once described as “a master jeweler in the timeless language of the pitch.” He was fond of stating the pitchman’s credo: “Never, never use one word when four will suffice.” The medicine shows were always presented “free, gratis, and for nothing.” A sucker for alliteration, he presented “glittering galaxies of gorgeously gowned girls” and featured, among others, “Tillie Tashman, that teasing, tantalizing, tormenting, tempestuous, tall, tan torsotwister from Texas.” I certainly consider him one of the most inspiring, incandescent, irreplaceable, inventive, and absolutely inimitable (as Fred might say) collaborators in my life.

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