"ALOA", The Alligator BoyOF RALEIGH, N.C.

"Realizing that many patrons would like to ask us questions of such a private or personal nature not permissible in a mixed audience we herewith give a short sketch of our life to satisfy these desires.

"We were born in Raleigh, N.C., in 1908 and were educated at St. Mary's College of that city. Our parents were both absolutely normal in every respect. There were eight children in the family, all normal, except the last two. We were born with a hide similar to, and possessing many of the characteristics peculiar to, an alligator.

"We have traveled extensively, visiting all of the outstanding medical and scientific research institutions of the United States and Canada, where were have been the subject of many clinics, being subjected to all tests known to medical science, such as Radium, Acids, Rays, Skin Grafting, etc., and the results of these experiments were of such a puzzling nature that the doctors dubbed us the Alligator Boy and Girl. These investigations did however establish the fact that we are undoubtedly normal in every particular with the exception of the clearly defined Alligator characteristics. The sex organs are identical to and will perform the same functions of any completely normal person. Blood tests for prenatal impurities have always shown negative, proving our blood perfectly pure and impossible for us to transmit our condition to any person either by direct contact or otherwise, we shed our skin every spring and fall the same as any member of the reptilian family. We have no sweat glands and all moisture of perspiration are thrown off through the eyes. This results in their inflamed condition. The upper lids of the eyes are stationary and the lower lids function as the lids of the alligator.

"Our condition is the direct result of our mother having been frightened by an alligator about six months prior to our birth.

"God in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to create us in this pitiful condition. He must have had a reason and we never question His work. We extend to all doctors, nurses and the scientific world the right to examine us at their pleasure. Thanking you for the interest you have shown, we are sincerely,


The pitch card quoted above is half of a pair of fliers sold at the shows of "Alice and Aloa, The Alligator Skin Twins". The supposed "twins" came into the world with the unremarkable names of Virginia and William Smith, and Virginia was actually about two years younger than William. The pair were with Cetlin-Wilson Shows, West's World Shows, Endy Bros. Shows and Clyde Beatty's Circus Sideshow.

In Daniel Mannix' Freaks: We Who Are Not As Others, showman Joseph Hilton is quoted saying, "Most of the best alligator-skinned people come from North Carolina." The Smith siblings weren't the only brother-sister pair from the state - Esther Parnell (later Blackmon) and her brother, also called William, came from Kenly, about forty miles from Raleigh. Surely the Smiths and the Parnells had an ancestor in common!

One prominent society matron of Gastonia went in to see him and was startled when she almost leaned upon this freak as he sidled closely to her. She recoiled in apparent disgust or pity, perhaps both. Aloa grinned and spoke blithely: "Say lady, I hope the devil jumps back from me, when he sees me, as much as you jumped."

Gastonia Daily Gazette, Gastonia, North Carolina, Oct. 8, 1926.

Updated 3.22.06 - special thanks to ShowHistory.com