The other day, my mom, stepdad, sister, and I made a spontaneous roadtrip to Charlotte, NC, specifically to go to IKEA. Judge us. A few days earlier, we had briefly talked about going to Atlanta (the closest IKEA location to Knoxville) with my aunt for the same reason, and I was sure that’s where we were going until we were actually on the move. I didn’t get the memo, I guess. Anyway, after an almost three hour drive, and stopping for breakfast at Cracker Barrel (judge us again, it’s delicious), we arrived at our destination. I wonder how many people at IKEA that day were from out of town, ha. Let me start by saying that this place is huge. Gigantic. And awesome. I went with one item on my shopping list, and left with probably too many. I got my $10 rug, though! I almost came home with that cute owl lampshade. Also, I didn’t know they had plants. I am two cacti richer. We also made a pit stop by a local cemetery, Forest Lawn West, to take a look at an interesting grave that Ellie had found using the Roadside America App. It was the grave of Daisy and Violet Hilton, Siamese twins born in 1908. It took a while to find it, and I snapped some other cool photos along the way.
I did a bit on research on the girls, and, as it turns out, they have a very interesting past. They were born in England, attached at the hip, but sharing no vital organs. Their mother was an unmarried bar maid, and were eventually sold to the woman she worked for, Mary Hilton. They were kept under strict control with physical abuse by Mary and her string of husbands and were trained in singing and dancing. When Mary died, they were turned over to her daughter and her husband, Myer Myers (seriously) and were trained to play instruments, Violet on saxophone and Daisy on violin.
Throughout their early lives, the girls had been stars of sideshow attractions all over Europe, Australia, and the U.S. In the 1920s and 30s, they toured in Vaudeville and burlesque circuits, and appeared in the film Freaks, after getting out of their contract from Myers. They had affairs, failed attempts to get a marriage license, and a couple of short marriages. When their popularity faded, the girls struggled to make a living, and starred in Chained for Life, an exploitation film based loosely on their lives, in 1951. Their last public appearance was in 1961 at a drive in theater in Charlotte, where their manager abandoned them. They were forced to take a job at a grocery store. In January 1969, the girls failed to report for work, and were found dead in their home, victims of the Hong Kong flu. According to investigation, Daisy died first, and Violet a few days later. They were so poor when they died, they had to be buried next to an acquaintance, a man who was killed in Vietnam.
I watched the 2013 documentary, Bound By Flesh, about their lives on Netflix last night, and it was pretty cool. The interviewees get distracted and give you the entire history of sideshow attractions, but eventually get back on track. I had never been to North Carolina before, and we weren’t there for very long mostly because it was super windy and freezing (I couldn’t go anywhere without holding my hat on and my dress down), but all I can say about the state is that they have an IKEA, two pairs of Siamese twin graves, and a strange amount of Bojangles. North Carolina fucking loves their Bojangles.