Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Mighty Atom

More than 50 years ago, when I was a teenager, I enjoyed frequenting fairs and flea markets. One pitchman that always captured my attention was "The Mighty Atom" (Joe Greenstein [1893-1977]).

In the twilight of his career, the strongman continued to demonstrate his remarkable talents. He was in his late 60s and still able to drive a twenty penny nail (held in the palm of his hand, and cushioned only by a folded up handkerchief) through a 2" plank. He also bent horseshoes and steel rods, but only after lecturing the crowd about fitness and healthful eating habits.

Afterwards he sold bottles of his special liniment and bars of his hand-made soap. Atom's Supreme Soap was made from "lemon, coconut oil, & castile," and billed as "A Perfect Skin Cleanser."

For my birthday Amy gifted me with Ed Spielman's out-of-print book, The Mighty Atom, The Life and Times of Joseph L. Greenstein. It is a fascinating read.

Here is a YouTube video of The Mighty Atom in action (

In the spirit of Joseph Greenstein, Village Craftsmen has for sale Ocracoke Island's very own Andromeda Soaps, "dedicated to offering an alternative to the mass produced unnatural items that line our grocery aisles."

Click on the photo to see Village Craftsmen's selection of Andromeda Soaps.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the recent skirmishes islanders have had with North Carolina legislatures over the issue of ferry tolls...and a 1955 newspaper editorial advocating free, state-operated ferries across Hatteras Inlet. You can read it here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:02 AM

    He has a awful nail biting habit. And when he dropped the napkin to the ground, the napkin he held to "drive " the nail thru the wood-- a distinctive metal clanking sound can be heard -- what was in the napkin?? I guess some one stole his car he's only got a nail to drive. This was funny --I needed a laugh after a long hard day at work.DD