Cumberland, Maryland (Medical profession and hospitals)
Every year there was a visit of the medicine shows. These were traveling shows which would set up a tent on a vacant lot in the city, would advertise in the local papers, and when the crowd would gather would entertain them, then proceed to sell bottles of medicine. Most of these medicine shows had Black musicians and entertainers, but the show would be directed by white owners. One of the most colorful of all sellers of cure-alls was a snake oil dealer. A group from out of town would rent a room in Downtown Cumberland. The last one people remember was in a room on Baltimore Street between North Liberty and North Mechanic Streets in the building torn down when the Fort Cumberland Hotel was built about 1916. The people who opened for sales would have a box with two or three rattlesnakes in the box. They would handle the snakes, holding them aloft and draping them about their necks. The snakes were de-fanged, rendering them harmless. The salesmen would then go to work telling all the benefits of rattlesnake oil. They were told the oil would cure everything from toothache to the common cold, bruises, sprains, skin diseases and other ailments. The snake oil would usually sell for a dollar a bottle. Other salesmen would set up on a street corner and sell a product to relieve and cure corns and bunions. One such traveling specialist was Dr. Thomas who advertised he would be here in Cumberland on October 9, 10, and 11, 1907 at Dr. Thomas' Medical Institute, 6 South Liberty Street. Dr. Thomas, in his advertisement, said he would cure blood, skin, kidney, prostatic, and private diseases of men, promising they would stay cured or money would be refunded. One personal visit was absolutely necessary.
Miller, Herman J.
Mayor and Council, City of Cumberland
27 x 20 cms
Cumberland (Md.), history
Cumberland (Md.), 1700-1976