The famous last words of Zip the “What is It?”
From the New York World, April 29, 1926:
Zip Grins In Death, Mask Off At Last
Side Show “What Is It?” Lies in Coffin in his Evening Clothes
Was “Sold” Into Circus
Told Sister on His Death Bed He’d Have Joke on Crowds
Death cracked Zip’s little joke on the public for him.
“Zip — the What Is It?” side show spielers had cried to awed crowds for more than half a century.
“Take a look and try and tell us! What is it?
Its head is an ice-cream-cone!
Its nose is that of an Af-ri-can ant-eater!
It has hair on its body like a gi-ant gor-rilla! What is it?
Take a look and try and tell us!”
The throngs stared and marveled. And through the years Zip grinned inanely, gurgled and mumbled his freakish part — and kept his joke to himself.
Only on his death bed did Zip tell his secret. His dying gasp was a chuckle…
Carte de visite from a gallery of Aztecs, Missing Links and Pinheads at Sideshow World.