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Local writer tells of seeing Houdini as a child in the Scranton Times


Edward J. Gerrity wrote several columns in the Times about Houdini when he saw him in Scranton. Like many of the other examples in this work, they are on exhibit at the Houdini Museum. He says, "we often sat goggle-eyed in the old Poli Theater watching the famed Houdini perform his stunts. Harry Houdini one of the cleverest of all men of mystery, played in Scranton several times.And his appearance always meant a full house at the theater"..."every year when he came to Scranton, the Poli was filled to standing room only crowds. One of the stunts he performed while here was to permit several of our husky policemen and a group of citizens to come up on stage and place handcuffs on his wrists and shackles on his feet. He would then dive into a large glass tank of water and in seconds he amazed the audience by working himself loose and come out of the water minus handcuffs and shackles as the crowd sat spellbound. One Scranton patrolman who went to stage to place handcuffs on Houdini had the cuffs specially made and after he had locked them on Harry he walked to a side of the stage and remarked to other officers, 'He'll never get out of them cuffs.' But in a few seconds Houdini walked over to the cop and said 'Here's your handcuffs. I thought you might want to show them to the boys at headquarters'. The officer nearly fainted by Houdini's swiftness in getting out of his handcuffs. The audience went into wild laughter over Harry's stunt that flabbergasted the Scranton policeman." He further writes, "On one of his last Scranton appearances Houdini veered away from his familiar but always thrilling escape routine to indulge in some slight-of-hand feats that mystified thousands of people. One of them was to put a package of needles and some thread in his mouth. After masticating the mixture for a while, Houdini miraculously pulled the threaded needles from his mouth in a line that reached halfway across the stage as the audience gasped in amazement. The theater shook from the tremendous applause that followed."

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