Power of the internet brings my cousin home…
September 25, 2009

Josephine Myrtle Corbin(Bicknell) and husband James Bicknell

Josephine Myrtle Corbin(Bicknell) and husband James Bicknell

You may recall when I wrote about a year ago, about being told by my little 89 year old Mother, that we had a woman who was related to us distantly…and she had four legs. I blogged about it then and in case you never read it, the post can be found in the September 2008 archives below. And I’ve been fascinated with Josephine Myrtle Corbin ever since…it boggles the mind to think of what her life was like…while she traveled in side-shows in the this country and in Europe I’ve read, she also married and had five children.

Handwriting on the back of the photo....

Handwriting on the back of the photo....

But the picture you see above came to me from a woman named Connie who lives in Washington State. She had found the photo in a box of her  Mother’s pictures…..it traveled from Iowa where she lived, to Wyoming, and then to Connie in Washington. She did some research to find out who this woman was…she believes someone purchased the picture at one of Myrtle’s shows…when she stumbled across my blog. She kindly wrote and asked if I would like to have it, as Myrtle was no relation to her.

I wrote back saying, “Yes, yes , yes…I would love to have the picture!” and asked who she thought obtained it. She replied, ” I really don’t know who purchased it.  It could have been one of my grandparents, or great grandparents, or even one of their relatives. They probably got it sometime around the turn of the century, most likely somewhere in the midwest, since most of our family is located in Iowa.  It was found in the box of our old family photos, and there were photos dating back as far as the late 1800s in the box.”

And now the photo makes another trip, this time to Baltimore, into the hands of an actual relative…I will make copies and send them to my sisters and Mother in Alabama, where I believe Myrtle was actually born…in Blount County. My Mom is quite thrilled to have a picture of her…when I told her I was making her a copy, she said, “Oh, you’ve just made my day!”

And from Connie, ” We are quite happy for you to have it.  Better that it go to family, then sit in an old box in the closet.  It’s going to be almost as well-travelled as she was by the time it gets to you!  It started out in Iowa, then went to Wyoming with my mother, then with me to Seattle, and now to you in Baltimore.  Quite amazing how things can work out these days!”

Have a great weekend everyone, be nice and come home safe….’cause we miss you.

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The odd, odd world of the blogosphere….includes me.
March 27, 2009

So many factoids....

So many factoids....

From time to time, I actually look at the stats about my blog….really, it’s more interesting than you might think(and that’s probably not very interesting), but it’s amazing to me how they gather all these factoids.  You can see a graph of the number of people to hit your blog over the past days, weeks and even months. …what a rollercoaster…And they tell you which of your blogs have been viewed the most since you first embarked on your uncertain journey into the blogosphere.

How many hits have I had since I began blogging?  As of this morning, 127,832.

Which blog has had the most views? This one may surprise you . For a few months,  it was Captain Underpants and the Angry Angel….a post I wrote last Halloween about the little boy who went bonkers on the Today Show, when his Dad displayed him in some tightie-whities and a weird bald hat. Seriously, I didn’t blame the kid for being a little upset, and it was weird. But lots of people must have heard about the incident and been searching for the video of it…this I didn’t have but I did have a picture and through searches, 1,298  people have found their way to that blog since then., and I still get hits on it.

Do they pass the sniff test??

Do they pass the sniff test??

But Captain Underpants has been overtaken by another blog I wrote last fall….about the extremely serious cultural problem of…..Stinky Uggs. 1,410 people suffer from this embarrassing and pesky condition and wonder what to do about them. And yes, I have an answer.

Third place is about another malady that must be sweeping the nation….mango allergy….that I wrote about in a blog called A Matter of Mangoes, after my daughter came down it herself…..Who knew that if you’re allergic to poison ivy, you may also develop an allergy to delicious mangoes. Lots of people do not know!

In fourth place, is I’m Not Intimidated by my Son’s Genius Girlfriend….all about the lovely and very smart Jennifer. And fifth is still one of my favorites just because of the oddball quality of it all….A Four-legged Woman is My Cousin….she really is.

The most single viewed day ever, was Thursday October 16th, when I wrote about my son’s engagement to the lovely Jennifer. And how do people find their way to my blog if they don’t see it on the WBAL website?  This I find really fascinating…these are search terms people used that led them to Hamilton’s Habitat….grits habitat…sticky Uggs…torture shoe…mango allergy… how do you pronounce tarte tatins(alas, they found how to make one but no pronunciation guide…just for the record, it is tart tah-tahn’)…today show boy in costume scream….woman with 4 legs….blood spot on eyeball(yes I wrote about it)….you get the idea. Such a serendipitous world out there that links us all together. In that spirit, I wish you all a lovely weekend…even if you have to work. Enjoy the journey.

Four-legged woman….is my cousin!!
September 19, 2008

My Mom called me this week and asked had I read the genealogical newsletter that comes out for the “Four Families” 4 times a year( I know, sounds like we’re in the mafia)….we have just recently discovered this newsletter and I signed up my Mom and sisters to receive it. “No Mom I haven’t read it yet, but I have it”…and in truth I often wait a long time to look through it…usually pretty dry stuff about the past and current relations through my Mom’s side of the family. But this time…this time, I was sooooo mistaken. She exclaimed, “You have to read about the woman with four legs!!”

Josephine Myrtle Corbin and husband James Bicknell

Josephine Myrtle Corbin and husband James Bicknell

I’m sorry…what did you say?”…I can’t believe it. So when I get home I open it up ….and sure enough, there she is…Josephine Myrtle Corbin, larger than life, and with considerably more legs, staring back at me.  An article from The Southern Democrat dated 1928, was a report on her death at the age of 60. It read…”The fact that she was double from the waist down made her one of the wonders of her age. She had four fully developed legs, the inside two legs being shorter than the other two. Otherwise she was perfectly normal.(Please….normal?) She had traveled all over the country and had been viewed  by thousands of people who were amazed at this freak of nature.You reckon??

So what was the deal with this chick? She was one of the rarest forms of conjoined twinning known as dipygus, a variation of parasitic twins, which gave her two complete bodies from the waist down! You heard me. According to the newsletter, she had “two small pelves side by side, and each of her smaller inner legs  was paired with one of her our legs. She could move them but was unable to use them for walking.” I can imagine that would have been difficult….

And here’s the kicker…wait for it…wait for it…. She married a doctor and had FIVE CHILDREN!

It has been said” (and I certainly can’t prove it), that three of her kids were born from one set of organs, and two from the other.”  Baby, baby, baby…I know. I know. I know, OK? The possibilities simply stagger the mind, don’t they? But there it is…How, gentle readers, are we related? In a way so convoluted that I don’t understand it, much less be able to explain it to you in the space we have here, we just are in some distant, “four families “way.  I called my daughter and told her about the ….odd family relative we used to have….her comment? “Eeeeuuuuuwww!” But you know, I kinda look at Josephine…and think… here was was this poor little baby, born as what most people would call a freak, certainly in that time…and yet she managed to live her life to the age of 60, get married and have five children. That’s real resilience, wouldn’t you say? My cousin Josie!! My girl!! I claim you as kin, happily.