Phineas Taylor (P. T.) Barnham had an interesting perspective on life and humanity. He was the self-proclaimed inventor of the American Traveling Circus, the Greatest Show on Earth. He coined the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” On a smaller scale, there were medicine shows (portrayed above).
In the days of the old west, people traveled from place to place selling medicine — usually a secret elixir or tonic that they guaranteed would put hair on your head if you were balding, removed stains from clothing, cured plague and would even mend a broken heart. If you weren’t interested in those solutions to your problems, you could engage in a game of Three-Card Monty or try and decide where the pea rested in the “old shell game”. The medicine itself usually contained small amounts of alcohol or laudanum (laudanum was opium mixed with alcohol). One famous recipe included the ubiquitous laudanum, sherry or wine, saffron, cinnamon and cloves. A few gulps made people feel terrific. The bottles sold for considerable money because of their magic curative properties.