Snake Oil Salesman?
Without knowing what he’s selling, the fellow in the picture could be any of these traditional fast talkers.
I’ve always admired folks that can speak fast, yet clearly. When we were first married, my wife and I furnished our home with treasures from country auctions. I loved listening to the auctioneer call the bids. Sometimes it was difficult to resist getting caught up in the frenzy as the auctioneer worked the crowd. When he would really get it rolling, his calls had a lyrical, almost musical sound to them.
Some folks have a natural talent for fast talk, and a few have made a career of it. Leroy Van Dyke started out as an auctioneer in 1951. Upon his return from Korea in 1956, Van Dyke, an amateur musician, penned a song about his start as an auctioneer. Within weeks the recording sold over a million copies.
Another career-switcher, Jonathan Eberhart was a magazine science writer living in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. His interest in the sea shanties and maritime music of the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern waterways prompted him to form a group by the name of the Boarding Party. The Boarding Party released several LPs of great maritime music. Jonathan Eberhart also released a solo LP featuring his deft guitar work and his wonderful, melodic voice. Eberhart was blessed with the talent to sing fast, complex lyrics at breakneck speed with perfect articulation. His “Winnie the Pooh Rag” is the best example of this that I have heard. I chose to post his version of “Methodist Pie” only because it fit the theme of today’s post better.
Fiddler “Hash House” Harvey Ellington honed his craft on the medicine show circuit during the Depression in North Carolina. In 1937 he hooked up with guitarist Ray Williams, vocalist Charlie “Dunk” Poole Jr., banjo player Garfield Hammonds, and guitarist “Starving” Sam Pridgen. They played together on Raleigh’s WPTF radio as the Swingbillies and later on Richmond’s WRVA as the Tobacco Tags. This cut, a take on Frankie and Johnny, is a great example of the kind of antics that would draw the crowds to the wagon for the old medicine shows.
Steve Goodman’s classic ”Talk Backwards”. I just couldn’t resist.