Strange Times 132: Mesmerized or "Doped"

Goodness gracious! The Kickstarter campaign for Critical Hit has just a few days left to run. If you appreciate this newsletter, do me a favor and grab a copy of my new novel. It’s just ten bucks for the digital edition, and I guarantee it’s the best thing you’ll read this summer. Now, on to our show:

Today we have ersatz magicians and a kidnapped judge. Bungle your sleight of hand on…

May 12, 1921

  • Elderly churchman Shubel K. Siver, who disappeared 10 days ago, is said to have taken advantage of a loophole in the Connecticut bigamy law to marry his 18-year-old sweetheart without divorcing his wife.

  • Visiting New York, Marie Curie promises that radium is “a positive cure for cancer…all kinds of cancer.”

  • The Weather: Increased cloudiness and showers today; Friday showers and warmer; southeast winds.


There is no legal defense more persuasive than, “I’m a magician!”

When Detective John O’Brien, of the Shopping District Squad, walked back to the Waldorf yesterday afternoon it looked as though the entire length of one of the curbs of Astor Court was being used for a gigantic game of Canfield. Playing cards were laid out in orderly rows, while a twelve-year-old boy stood in the gutter making energetic passes in the air with his hands and then drew cards from the clothing of two other wide-eyed boys of the same age.

“What are you doing with those cards? Come on, speak up,” said O’Brien in his most impressive and official manner.

Recovering from the shock, one of the boys replied:

“Oh, we’re learning to be magicians. We’re going on the stage. Johnny, there, can pick out any card you tell him to. Do you know a vaudeville manager who’ll give us a job?”

O’Brien examined the cardboard covers of the packs and then took the boys in tow over to McCreary’s on Thirty-fourth Street. After a short walk with a store detective the next call was the West Thirtieth Street police station, where John O’Ferdie, 12 years, 246 East Fifty-sixth Street; John O’Keefe, 13 years, 926 Second Avenue, and Peter Hoog, 13 years, 412 East Fifty-first Street, were charged with the theft of “merchandise valued at $1.70.”

The three magicians spent the night at the Children’s Society and will appear in Children’s Court today.


I’ve been saying this for years, folks, you can’t just go around kidnapping judges. It’s not okay.

TULSA, Okla., May 11.—Was John Devereux, 70 years old, formerly a Justice in the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, mesmerized or “doped” by two women, who posed as trained nurses and attended him during illness into signing away large sums of money? The police say that he was and they are investigating.

Judge Devereux, as he was known, was taken from a house, where he had been taken by the women Monday night. He was partly conscious and suffering from a severe wound in the head and now is fighting for his life. Physicians do not hold out much hope for his recovery.

The police have learned that access to Judge Devereux’s safety deposit box in one of the banks here was obtained by persons involved in the case. It was reported that $15,000 in Liberty bonds were gone from the box, but the police would not confirm this. The women, it is said, have cashed several checks signed by Devereux. These, they claim, were in payment for services as nurses. The women, Mrs. James and “Goldie” Gordon, are being held.

About ten days ago, when Judge Devereux had a recurrence of illness, the two women, representing themselves as nurses, appeared at the Judge’s apartment and took charge of him. They said they were sent by a man said to be an Indian lawyer, who was a frequent visitor at the Devereux apartment, and was with the two women when the Judge was taken from the house by the police.

When Judge Devereux was not seen at his home neighbors informed the police, who found him in the house downtown. According to examining physicians, he was under the influence of drugs. The wound on Judge Devereux’s head might have been inflicted by a club, according to physicians. The women say the Judge received the injury in a fall, which likewise made him unconscious.

In ten days the women obtained $1,000 from Devereux.




Loading more posts…