Marblehead-Home of an Americana Medicine Show Family is the intriguing tale of Gay and Essa Billings, their family and traveling medicine show. It's an emotional story about determination, stubbornness, jealousy, romance, murder, psychology, suspense, shock and surprises. It's a story about love--not only between the characters but it captures the readers--reels 'em in to a ringside seat before circus performers, personal gossip, villains and an effort to turn secret ingredients (like aloe, licorice root, and prickly ash bark...) into a best-selling formula to both help folks feel better and make a buck.
Gay's One Horse Medicine Show was for real. Gay and Essa were great entertainers as were their talented daughters, Eva and Ethel. Eva once owned Dailey Bros. Circus, which rivaled Ringling Bros. Ethel later performed in shows featuring George Burns. Eva and her husband, Billy, were legendary as "The Flying Merriams" trapeze act.
Marblehead is not only a place in Illinois but a novel on the exciting life of my great-grandparents.
This pleasurable read takes you from atop trapezes to inside bawdy saloons. Marblehead is a tale full of hope and aspirations--for Gay and Essa, Eva and Billy, Ethel and Freddie, Sweeney and Miss Dewey--which will sometimes bring tears to your eyes. You'll take a roller-coaster ride of happiness and despair. Like a melodrama, it will force you to hiss and cheer. It's a hard book to put down (632 action-packed pages) as you wonder what's going to happen next.
Marblehead was written with love for my family's past. It's a fictional account of how they came together, but there's truth in the story. Gay and Essa, Freddie and Ethel, Eva, Billy, and Ben were real people. They carved a niche in Americana history with their medicine show, circus, and cure-all tonics. At one time, they were well-known in the entertainment industry, even though some have been forgotten in the files of historical societies and newspaper archives. I have tried to rightfully bring them back to life, from old playbills and photos.