When one thinks of the U.S. state of Maryland, they tend to think of the state's long storied history in American culture. Some may think back to the days when the first railroad station was built in Baltimore way back in 1830. Others may think of the great baseball slugger Babe Ruth, who was born there. Still, many think of the first telegraph message that was received here - effectively paving the way for long distance instant communication.
When Spud thinks of Maryland however, the tater thinks of one thing: the state's apparent obsession with bodily functions.It was with that goal that Spud set out for a trip to Maryland to visit some of its hallowed halls that pay homage to the unmentionables.
First stop on the tuber's itinerary was the William P. Didusch Center for Urologic History. Why go to some stuffy formal museum and learn about the Civil War and aboriginal life when you can learn about various macabre instruments and procedures used by urologists over the last few centuries?
The Didusch Museum in the hamlet of Linthicum is tucked inside the headquarters of the American Urological Association. Anticipating that the place was going to be packed when it opened, Spud lined up outside the building overnight. Surprisingly enough, the only other person he saw that night was the security guard who tried to bounce the potato for loitering.
When morning came and the doors were opened, Spud rushed inside and began looking at display after display of instruments used by the internal 'plumbers of yesteryear.
The cases were filled with scopes and syringes, irrigators and evacuators, everything imaginable. The size and crude design of some of the cystoscopes looked more like shock absorbers than medical instruments. The crown jewel of the museum's treasures was a massive staghorn calculus (kidney stone to you and me) that was almost the size of a pineapple. What makes the stone so remarkable was that it was 'passed' the old fashioned way. Spud cringed and thanked his lucky stars that he was a potato and doesn't have any 'stuff'.
The next stop on Spud's 'tour of the unmentionables' was the American Dime Museum in Baltimore
The American Dime Museum is a veritable treasure trove of the bizarre and unusual. It is jam packed with every conceiveable oddity that you could ever imagine and then some.
Its apparent biggest draw is the 37 mile, 800 + pound ball of string firmly ensconced in the front window. While that surely would be enough to coax the admission out of anyone, Spud did not venture all this way to see that. Inside the museum takes visitors back to the 19th century when mobile freak shows used to pass thru town after town, bringing to life some real and some questionable obscurities.
Spud had visited other travelling showman collections in the past, such as when he went to the PT Barnum museum in Connecticut, years before. The American Dime Museum however, has one of the most treasured exhbits of all museums known to mankind - and it is what brought the tater across the country to see.
The potato graciously paid his admission to curator Dick Horne who also offered the potato a cup of coffee that he has freshly brewed. The tato declined the offer as he was too eager to find the exhbit he had come for.
As he worked his way through the cramped quarters of the museum, he took time to see some of its offerings.
One of the tables held a box containing a human head packed in tea leaves. While it was remarkably well preserved, the potato was glad he turned down the cup of brew he was offered.
On the wall were a pair of Martyr blood balls, looking startingly similar to meatballs he had for dinner at the hotel the night before. The placard told the story of Auguste Valiant who was a revolutionary leader that was executed in 1893 by guillotine. His head fell into a basket of bran which was used back then to soak up the blood. When the bran was later tossed into the bushes, fans of Valiant clamoured to collect a souvenir of their hero. They rolled up the bran into little balls, and while it is unsure what they did with them, Spud hoped that one of these groupies wasn't named 'Kellogg'
In a room near the back of the museum, Spud came upon a wall of photographs depicting a man named Joseph Pujol, who was known as 'Le Petomane'. He was one of the world's most popular showmen at the turn of the Century in Europe and North America. No, he wasn't a singer, dancer or magician...he was the world's most accomplished farter. Everywhere he appeared he would break attendance records for his ability to 'perform' on demand. The collage that was pictured on the walls was a particular performance captured at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. With this clue, Spud knew he had to be close to the Museum's holy grail.
Then out of the corner of his eye, he spied it, hanging on a wall: the 'Last Passage' of Abraham Lincoln
Apparently Auguste Valiant wasn't the only man to have an obsessed following of fans. Back in 1865 when President Lincoln was at the Ford Theater, one of these wackos followed him into the bathroom and 'liberated' one of the President's 'leftovers'. Sad as that may be, who was to know that the great leader would be assassinated that same night, thus levitating the fan's find to instant collectible 'status'. So much so that it even influenced the "Lincoln Logs" building toy that was hugely popular in the 20th Century.
This Spud pondered what its value would be today on eBay or at Sotheby's. Surely its historical signifigance would garner thousands.That shall remain a mystery however, as the curator has no intention of parting with his piece of Americana.
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