Bess Houdini smoked pot?

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Postby Guest » 11/23/06 03:23 PM

Among the many revelations in The Secret Life of Houdini (great book, btw) is the news that Bess Houdini smoked marijuana. This comes from what appears to be a smoking gun entry in her diary in which she says she made it through a night with no alcohol and "no weed."

My question is, did "weed" mean the same thing in 1927 that it does today? Marie Blood told me Bess smoked cigarettes. She chain-smoked, in fact. Could the "weed" Bess is talking about here be tobacco? Do her diaries contain any specific references to marijuana?

Either way...party on Bessie! :D

:genii:
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Postby Guest » 11/23/06 04:03 PM

If she was smoking back then, it wasn't illegal. Marijuana (spelled by the government "marihuana") didn't become illegal until 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed to regulate the hemp plant on the grounds that marijuana caused "murder, insanity and death". It supposedly had a violent "effect on the degenerate races." (It was a different time, wasn't it!)

We know that's nonsense today, but it was widely believed back then. Showings of the 1936 film Reefer Madness at universities almost always elicits shrieks of laughter.
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Postby Guest » 11/23/06 04:19 PM

Huh, yeah, I never considered that maybe pot was legal back then. Funny that in 1927 pot is legal, but alcohol isnt.

I do recall "refer" was big among the flapper set in the '20s, so I'd be surprised if Bess wasn't partaking. She certainly loved her champagne.

The book also mentions that she used drugs, but didnt mention anything specific (this is all after Houdinis death, btw).

:genii:
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Postby Guest » 11/23/06 04:20 PM

"Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere."

-President George Washington, 1794
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Postby Guest » 11/23/06 09:19 PM

I recall seeing 'weed' used as a reference to tobacco in the 30's.
Steve V
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Postby Guest » 11/23/06 10:31 PM

If your husband is philandering and has "mommy" issues...isn't it almost expected to turn to self medication of some form.
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Postby Guest » 11/23/06 10:33 PM

"Weed", as used in 1927, means regular cigarettes.

Pot was called a number of other things at the time, including gage, tea, muggles, and reefers. (See Really The Blues , by Mezz Mezzrow for a memoir of that era.) But everyone called tobacco "the weed."
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Postby Guest » 11/24/06 10:10 AM

"Tobacco is a filthy weed; I like it.
It satisfies no normal need; I like it. It
makes you thin, it makes you lean, it
takes the hair right off your bean. Its
the worst darn stuff Ive ever seen; I
like it.
GRAHAM LEE HEMMINGER (18961949)
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Postby Guest » 11/24/06 10:23 AM

Tobacco is a filthy weed
And from the devil doth proceed
It stains your fingers,stains your clothes
And makes a chimney of your nose

From "Who knows where"


All the best,
John Smetana
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Postby Guest » 11/24/06 11:04 AM

Back in that time women smoking was something of a statement of independence. My mother was a "flapper," and outraged a portion of my father's farm-raised Nebraska family when they met her and learned she smoked and wore make-up as make-up had previously been restricted to actresses and prostitutes. Flappers had a strong effect on our culture...fast forward 30 years and Hazel Bishop make-up sponsors Dunninger on national television, make-up being used by ordinary women and available everywhere.

If you use "big cheese" to refer to an important person or the phrase "baloney" in your converstaion, you're using Flapper slang.
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Postby Guest » 11/24/06 11:48 AM

Does this mean we may owe the water torture cell and milk can to "chronic moments" of discovery?
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Postby Guest » 11/24/06 12:09 PM

Originally posted by James in Toronto:
"Weed", as used in 1927, means regular cigarettes.

Pot was called a number of other things at the time, including gage, tea, muggles, and reefers. (See Really The Blues , by Mezz Mezzrow for a memoir of that era.) But everyone called tobacco "the weed."
Okay, then she's talking about cigarettes here, not marijuana (because she did smoke cigarettes -- which I don't think is generally known). The authors do specifically say she smoked marijuana, so I expect (hope) there's more in her diaries than just the mention of "weed."

Thanks.

:genii:
www.houdini-lives.com
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Postby Guest » 11/24/06 07:06 PM

The Oxford English Dictionary's first print citation for "weed" meaning "marijuana" is 1929.

It didn't take long to find examples of the usage going back into the 1910's (if not earlier) in some online newspaper archives.

Bess could well have meant marijuana, but she could have been talking about tobacco as well.
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Postby David Scollnik » 11/24/06 09:41 PM

Originally posted by zencat:

My question is, did "weed" mean the same thing in 1927 that it does today? Marie Blood told me Bess smoked cigarettes. She chain-smoked, in fact. Could the "weed" Bess is talking about here be tobacco? Do her diaries contain any specific references to marijuana?

Either way...party on Bessie! :D
I don't know the answer, but all sorts of straight-laced people smoke pot today in America even though it is "illegal". I have to suspect that even more smoked it back at the start of the century when it was not illegal like today (in America, I mean).

I can't remember where, but I remember reading an article in one of the "mainstream" magic magazines recently about some magician who used to see some famous singer pick marijuana in the back yard of a famous jazz club (The Cotton Club?) in "long ago" days. Maybe someone here can remeber the reference.

Heck, lots of people took opium back in the 1920s as well back then, didn't they?
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Postby Guest » 11/25/06 02:04 AM

Pot and alcohol are two things that help you sleep. Tobacco isn't. Therefore I suggest she was referring to pot as she refers to 'making it through the night'
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/25/06 09:39 AM

If you smoked or have smoked cigarettes, the last thing you do before sleeping is have a cigarette. Medical books may say they are a stimulate, but I'll go with mental attitude of the cigarette smoker on this one.
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
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Postby Guest » 11/25/06 10:57 AM

Originally posted by mrgoat:
Pot and alcohol are two things that help you sleep. Tobacco isn't. Therefore I suggest she was referring to pot as she refers to 'making it through the night'
Actually, 'making it though the night' was not an exact quote. Sorry. It's a little hard to know the context, so here's the exact quote:

"Dine at Village Grove--home early no drink or weed." - Oct 19, 1927

:genii:
www.houdini-lives.com
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Postby Guest » 11/25/06 05:36 PM

Doesn't really matter either way though, does it?

:)
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Postby Guest » 11/26/06 02:33 PM

Originally posted by mrgoat:
Doesn't really matter either way though, does it?

:)
Well, not to me personally. But if you are going to publish in a biography that Bess smoked marijuana, I think it should matter to the authors whether it was true.

:genii:
www.houdini-lives.com
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Postby Guest » 11/26/06 03:17 PM

I didn't think bongs were invented by 1927.

Mike
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Postby Guest » 11/26/06 03:23 PM

I used to think Maryjane was the Devil's girlfriend!! Now I know it was actually Bess Houdini!!
The connection is obvious--Houdini, in his interactions with the dark side (where he learned how to dematerialize and float through key-holes) must have somehow accidently gotten his wife exposed to the satanic shrub! Oh Harry, what did you do?! --We TOLD you the dangers of communing with the spirit world!

Don't be so cavalier, magic community! Mar-1-ju-a-na is literally a demon weed that will grab your sons, your daughters with the arms of a jungle-animal instinct! Mass-hysteria!! Aiiee!!!

If you don't believe me, watch a little DOCUMENTARY called "Reefer Madness" which dispenses with the hyperbole, and clinically, scientifically spells-out the dangers of even discussing Satan's herb! (My soul is already doomed just from posting this.)

Luckily, only "JAZZ musicians" smoke that "reefer", and as we know, they're all going to hell in hand-baskets anyway: The Devil's music, the Devil's smoke: YOU do the math.
STAY AWAY from jazz musicians boy, or that evil will rub right-off and onto YOU!

Not to change the subject, but ages ago the really REALLY top-quality weed was referred to in certain circles as "The Mezz" after Mr. Mezz Mezzrow mentioned above, because he was known to one and all to be in cahoots with the forces of evil, and therefore always had "the good stuff"...

I am now heading to Golden Gate Park to scold some hippies, as I do a couple times each week. :cool:
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Postby Guest » 11/26/06 03:29 PM

Originally posted by zencat:
Well, not to me personally. But if you are going to publish in a biography that Bess smoked marijuana, I think it should matter to the authors whether it was true.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but Larry Sloman, co-author of THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI, where this claim is made, is also the author of REEFER MADNESS: THE HISTORY OF MARIJUANA IN AMERICA.
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Postby Guest » 11/27/06 02:36 PM

Whether or not she was talking about marijuana in the diary entry, below the quote the authors write:

"Bess had been drinking heavily on the last tour, even before Houdini's death. A year later, as the October 19 and other entries show, she was making an effort to curtail her input of drink and drugs, including marijuana."

So, yes, apparently she smoked that kind of weed too.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 11/28/06 06:15 PM

I thought Bess's diary entry about weed was a bombshell when I arrived at that junction of the Houdini bio. Then I realized that Bess did indeed enjoy her alcohol, even when Houdini was still around. It isn't a large step from alcohol to marijuana. David Alexander is correct when he mentioned that pot was not illegal when Bess wrote her entry.

BTW--this book answered a number of questions for me. From earlier Houdini biographies, it seemed that Bess was in cahoots with Arthur Ford, and then changed her attitude later on. Kalush and Sloman claim that Bess had shared Houdini's code because she had fallen for the "Reverend." After that revelation, Bess's behavior made more sense to me.

I have a question: Did Bess really marry Edward Saint? According to an article about her in a mid-nineties issue of Magic, she chastised Hardeen for accusing her of living in sin with Mr. Saint. Her reply went along the the lines of "What a fool, he knows Saint and I are married."
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Postby Guest » 11/28/06 07:26 PM

For the claim that Bess smoked pot, is there documentary evidence other than the diary entry cited by the authors?
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Postby Guest » 11/28/06 07:31 PM

Originally posted by Magicam:
For the claim that Bess smoked pot, is there documentary evidence other than the diary entry cited by the authors?
Good question. Nothing's really presented in the book besides the quote -- maybe there'll be sources cited in the notes, but so far those only go up to chapter 16.
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Postby Guest » 11/28/06 07:53 PM

Originally posted by castawaydave:
Not to change the subject, but ages ago the really REALLY top-quality weed was referred to in certain circles as "The Mezz" after Mr. Mezz Mezzrow mentioned above, because he was known to one and all to be in cahoots with the forces of evil, and therefore always had "the good stuff"...
All of a sudden the Lord Buckley show I saw last month makes a little more sense.
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 07:33 PM

Sorry to post on the topic so late, but I've just joined this Forum. With regard to that, thanks, Richard, for making it available.

I was Marie Blood's very close friend and erstwhile agent for the better part of two decades. I conducted the broken wand ceremony and eulogy when her husband, Forrest, passed away. Unfortunately, because I'd just had surgery, I couldn't make it to Marie's funeral.

We spoke, at considerable length, about Bess. While her alcohol consumption was noted, if Bess ever smoked MJ, I'm sure Marie had no idea. And, yes, Bess was in "cahoots" with Ford.

I'm working on three book projects now, and just started research on a fourth. I will be doing a fairly short biography, at the request of Marie and her family, on the Houdini's tentatively entitled "Harry and Bess, Marie Hinson Blood remembers life with the Great Houdinis." I hope to have the project completed in 2008.

Greg Edmonds
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 09:54 PM

Originally posted by John Smetana:
Tobacco is a filthy weed
And from the devil doth proceed
It stains your fingers,stains your clothes
And makes a chimney of your nose

From "Who knows where"


All the best,
John Smetana
Tobacco is a dirty weed;
I like it.
It satisfies no normal need;
I like it.
It makes you thin, it makes you lean,
It takes the hair right off your bean.
It's the worst darn stuff I've ever seen;
I like it.
-Graham Lee Hemminger
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 01/11/07 09:20 AM

Hi Mr. Edmonds. I look forward to your books. :)
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Postby Guest » 01/12/07 10:58 AM

Thanks, Leonard.

Greg
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Postby Guest » 01/12/07 05:13 PM

Originally posted by MindShow:
I'm working on three book projects now, and just started research on a fourth. I will be doing a fairly short biography, at the request of Marie and her family, on the Houdini's tentatively entitled "Harry and Bess, Marie Hinson Blood remembers life with the Great Houdinis." I hope to have the project completed in 2008.

Greg Edmonds [/QB]
Sounds great, Greg. Keep us posted. And let me know if I can help promote these books on my website.

:genii:
www.houdini-lives.com
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Postby Guest » 01/17/07 12:32 PM

Thanks, and will do.

Greg
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Postby Noel Grassy » 01/22/07 03:01 AM

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Originally posted by zencat:
[b]
Well, not to me personally. But if you are going to publish in a biography that Bess smoked marijuana, I think it should matter to the authors whether it was true.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but Larry Sloman, co-author of THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI, where this claim is made, is also the author of REEFER MADNESS: THE HISTORY OF MARIJUANA IN AMERICA. [/b]
I find that to be charmingly serendipitous at the least! :p
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