Andy D-Day and the 2-Headed Calf
The Spitler House is a Brookville architectural landmark, a carefully preserved example of the Queen Anne-style home rarely found in small Midwestern towns. Samuel Spitler, according to the historical marker out front, was a self-taught plumber, and "is credited with installing Brookville's first indoor bathroom in his home" in 1894.
The Spitler House also harbors a dark secret... or at least, an embarrassing one.
It is the fanciful home of Andy D-Day, a once-famous freak bull long believed lost or destroyed. Andy is here, what's left of him, along with another legendary Brookville freak, the Two-Headed Calf.
The story starts in 1941, when the 2-headed calf was born on the dairy farm of Wilbur and Nessie Rasor, along the National Road on the south side of Brookville. The calf was the misshapen offspring of "Spotty," and expired almost immediately. According to Wayne Watkins, our Spitler House tour guide and a Brookville Historical Society member, calves with two heads "never live too long because their legs are too spindly and their heads are too big."
This calf posthumously became a tourism sensation. The Rasors were a strong, industrious family when it came to farming, but they could also spot a prime moneymaking opportunity. They had the calf taxidermied, put it on exhibit in a farm building, and charged people a dime to see it (Locals recall that Mr. Rasor would come into town and buy new cars with buckets of dimes).
Travelers could pull off to gape at the stuffed "Marvel of Nature," and perhaps try some of the Rasors' homemade ice cream. "That freak calf was the biggest attraction on the National Road," Watkins said. The calf was featured in the syndicated Ripley's Believe it or Not! newspaper comics across the country.
Today, two-headed calves are not uncommon to find in truck stops and dusty town museums -- but the Rasors' specimen may be the one that started the freak calf-stuffing craze...
At the height of the calf's popularity, a man stopped by from Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and told the Rasors about a freak bull he owned -- still alive. They traveled south to inspect the bull, purchased him on the spot, and transported their new celebrity to Brookville.
Andy D-Day was said to have been born on June 6, 1944, with four horns, four eyes, and two functioning noses (the owners concluded he was using both, because in winter they could see his quadrupal vapor exhalations). Rasor constructed a building specially for Andy and his stuffed calf pal. Visitors could feed Andy saltine crackers. The admission charge increased to 25 cents.
Wilbur Rasor wouldn't allow picture-taking of Andy; visitors who wished to enthrall the folks back home had to buy Rasor's post cards. One time Andy's owner caught a tourist slyly snapping a photo -- and attacked him.
In the late 1940s, Rasor took Andy D-Day on tour to sideshows in Florida and surrounding states.
Andy finally died in 1956, and his head was stuffed and mounted for posterity. The Rasor family had grown close to their malformed pets; the head and calf eventually made their way into the large farm house, where they stayed until 1976.
Then the bull and calf were donated to the Brookville Historical Society. "When we carried them out (of the house) it was almost like a loss in the family," said Wayne Watkins. "The animals were like children, almost."
Andy and the calf eventually moved to the Society-maintained Spitler House, built by Warren Rasor, a relative of Wilbur Rasor. "The (Rasor) family said, 'All you have to do is put a big banner across the front advertising Andy and people will come."
But times have changed -- stuffed freaks aren't the entertainment magnet they once were.
The animals were consigned to the basement, away from the antique furnishings and historic Brookville artifacts showcased above ground. "Everything in the basement is not appropriate to the rest of the house," Watkins said.
The freaks are not actively publicized, and hardly mentioned in town, so the "attraction" has flown under even local weirdo radar. The experts at nearby Dayton's Beyond Bizarre exhibit and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery hadn't heard of Andy D-Day. National Road expert Frank Brusca owned a few of the old Rasor postcards (which sell for $40 or more on eBay today), and searched for years for the whereabouts of Andy D-Day. We exchanged e-mails where Frank speculated that perhaps the 2-headed calf in Prairie Dog Town, Oakley, Kansas, was Andy's old companion. The Ohio Historical Society believed they had the calf -- and had long publicized it as such, until a Brookville local corrected them.
The calf and the bull were in Brookville all along. In spite of the second class status assigned the freaks, the Society has recently created a nice basement simulation of the rustic building where they were kept. The two-headed calf stands on a tuft of hay. Above him, appearing to look out from above a stall door, is the head of D-Day Andy.
Older people who do the house tour often want a peek at what their parents wouldn't allow them to see as children at the Rasor farm.
It's not clear whether the little calf and Andy D-Day's head live up to their expectations. Said Watkins: "People always ask -- is the rest of him back there?"
The Spitler House is open once a month for the tours, otherwise, by appointment. Admission pricing currently doesn't accommodate hit-and-run tours -- it assumes visitors also want the full-length experience of the house and all its artifacts.
According to Wayne Watkins, we were the first people who ever asked "just to see the animals."