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Review of the Zern's Farmers Market and Flea Market - A Pennsylvania Dutch Treat!

Joe Greenstein, The Mighty Atom

Joseph L. Greenstein, better known as "The Mighty Atom", was a 20th century strongman.

Greenstein was born in Suvalk, Poland in 1893. As a child he suffered from respiratory ailments, and at age 14, a team of doctors predicted he would die from tuberculosis. Around that time, he became acquainted with a Russian circus strongman called "Champion Volanko", who took Greenstein under his wing. Greenstein traveled with Volanko and the Issakoff Brothers' Circus for eighteen months, learning the strongman's training regimen. After this, he returned to Poland and married his wife, Leah, and began a career as a wrestler. Due in part to rising anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, he then left for America.

Greenstein first went to Galveston, Texas, working as a dockworker and wrestling as "Kid Greenstein". In 1914, a local Texas man who was obsessed with Greenstein's wife shot him between the eyebrows from a distance of 30 feet. Amazingly, Greenstein left the hospital on the same day - the bullet did not enter his skull, but was flattened by the impact. This experience sparked Greenstein's interest in the mental powers associated with strength, and he gradually developed an array of strongman feats.

Despite standing only 5'4" and weighing 140 pounds, Greenstein became one of the 20th century's leading strongmen. Some of his feats of strength included:

  • Driving 20 penny nails through a 2 1/2 inch board with his bare hands
  • Lying on a bed of nails while supporting a 14-man Dixieland band on his chest
  • Changing a tire on a car without any tools
  • Breaking as many as three chains by chest expansion
  • Bending an iron bar or horseshoe by holding one end with his teeth while one end of the bar was held fixed in a vise
  • Bending 1/2 inch steel bars with his hands
  • Biting nails in half with his teeth (he could also perform this feat with a 25-cent coin)
  • Resisting the pull of a plane with his hair. This feat was performed at the Buffalo Airport and was documented in the Buffalo Evening Times on September 29, 1928.
  • Greenstein continued performing his strongman feats well into his eighties. He was featured several times in Ripley's Believe It Or Not and in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records. Greenstein died on October 8, 1977. The story of his life has been told by Ed Spielman in the book The Mighty Atom.

Joe "The Mighty Atom" Greenstein was one of the last Old-Time a traveling strongmen who sold health and strength elixirs, like from an old medicine show.  In his earlier years he would demonstrate great feats of strength like pulling a truck tied to his hair, bend bars and break things with his teeth.  In the  summer of 1955 at Zern's Market in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, The Mighty Atom met Lawrence Farman, who later became known as ... Slim "The Hammerman" Farman.


  Click Here for information about:
Spiritual Journey of
Joseph L. Greenstein:
The Mighty Atom






Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia under the GNU License.



Kitchen Kettle Village

Red Caboose Motel

Strasburg Railroad

Railroad Museum of PA

Linvilla Orchards

West Chester Railroad

Bird In Hand Village

Peaceful Valley Amish Furniture

Knoebels Amusement Park

Zerns Farmers Market



Additional Information

Address and Contact Information for the Zerns Market:

Zerns Farmers Market
1100 East Philadelphia Avenue,
Gilbertsville, PA 19525
Phone: 610-367-2461

Located 1/2 mile east of the intersection of Route 100 & Route 73

Zerns is open Fridays 2 pm to 10 pm & Saturdays 11 am to 10 pm

Zerns Farmers Market Website
Contact Zerns Here

Directions to the Zerns Farmers Market

External Links:

The Mighty Atom
The Life and Times of Joesph L. Greenstein
Ed Spielman - The Viking Press - New York 1979




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