Battlepanda: Chang and Eng


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Chang and Eng

We drive past the Chang and Eng memorial bridge all the time on our way to Mount Airy. It's not much of a bridge. More like a tiny stretch of highway with a muddy creek running through it. Still, I was intrigued. Still, I was intrigued. What is a bridge named after the original Siamese twins doing in Mt. Airy? Why are there posters advertizing a musical about their story in town?
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Well, it turns out the twins had a more astonishing life than my dim impression of their career as travelling freaks suggested. They tired of the constant touring, settled in this part North Carolina, married Southern belles, and became gentlemen farmers. They lost their fortune in the civil war (they considered themselves Southerners and owned slaves), went back on tour to recoup their losses, and died each with their own property and twenty-one children between them. There are now more than 1000 Chang and Eng descendents, and many of their people still live in the area. Counterintuitively, despite the fact that they must have been freaks twice over by the standards of those day, they seemed to have found acceptance here, in life and in posterity.