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HomeMagicWILD ABOUT HARRY: Houdini vs. Margery II: The rematch that wasn't

WILD ABOUT HARRY: Houdini vs. Margery II: The rematch that wasn't

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It isn't usually recognized that Houdini and Margery nearly had a second seance room encounter–a rematch, for those who will–in September 1926 when Houdini introduced his 3 Reveals in One to Boston. However the seance did not occur, and as with all the things Houdini-Margery, either side blamed the opposite.

Lately our good good friend Jessica Jane Peterson lent me a e book she occurred upon, Margery Mediumship, Vol. 2 (1933), that incorporates the unique correspondence between the events. I feel I can learn between the traces and suss out what actually occurred to Houdini vs. Margery II.

On September 17, 1926, Dr. Henry Clay McComas, professor of experimental psychology at Princeton, visited Houdini in his dressing room on the Majestic Theater in Boston. McComas and several other fellow investigators had attended two current seances on the Crandons Lime Road house and had been impressed. Margery, through her lifeless brother Walter, was now in a position to establish random objects positioned in a basket that might additionally freely levitate. The previous bell field was nonetheless in use, however this time Walter might ring the bell whereas the field was held within the laps of the sitters, even with their backs turned.

Key to the brand new manifestations was that Margery was positioned below strict management (i.e., restrained). Management is what introduced her down through the Scientific American seances. When correctly restrained by Houdini's “Margie field” and later Dr. Comstock's system, Margery/Walter couldn't produce any phenomena. Now she was restrained with wire and marked surgical tape and enclosed in a brand new glass cupboard. It appeared inconceivable for Margery to be accountable for any of the seance room phenomena witnessed by the committee.

McComas needed to know if Houdini could be all in favour of attending a seance to look at Margery's newest manifestations. Houdini steered a reduce to the chase method. So long as McComas supplied him with an in depth description of Margery's seance, he would go in and reproduce her each impact sight unseen. The lads labored up a memo to this impact:

Memorandum of convention with Houdini at his room within the Majestic Theater.

(1) Houdini acknowledged that he might, and could be delighted to repeat the “Margery” phenomena for a bunch of gents to be chosen by Dr. McComas of Princeton.

(2) He urged that the equipment used be the identical as that utilized by “Margery” and to this Dr. McComas and Dr. Brown agreed.

(3) Houdini steered that the identical committee wire “Margery” into the cupboard that later wires him, and to this Dr. Brown and Dr. McComas agreed.

The Crandons agreed to the problem. On Saturday, September 18, McComas as soon as once more attended a seance in order to offer Houdini with an actual file. A stenographer was introduced in for the event to file each second. Extraordinary element was given to the method of inspecting and controlling Margery. The seance lasted over two hours, with Walter being his ordinary boisterous self and going by way of the identical routine as earlier than. After the seance, Margery was once more painstakingly examined and all of the controls the place nonetheless in place.

McComas gave Houdini the file of the seance and Houdini replied with a letter again. That is when issues took a flip. Whereas Houdini agreed to the seance the next day, Sunday, September 19 (when he didn't have a night present), he mentioned he needed to convey alongside “three or 4 school professors” as a committee. He additionally needed the choice of observing Margery in motion earlier than his personal try at duplication, which he admitted might take a couple of days to organize. Houdini wrote:

You may assume she does sure issues in a sure means and describe it to me, whereas it is going to be completely totally different earlier than my eyes. […] The girl is delicate and modifications her strategies like every dexterous sleight-of-hand performer or any medium I've examined. […] It have to be borne in thoughts that secret paraphernalia might should be contrived to carry out among the assessments. In that case, I'll clarify these assessments till I've time to get the identical made.

McComas confirmed the letter to Margery's husband, Dr. Le Roi Crandon, who felt Houdini was now altering the circumstances of the take a look at he himself had conceived. However I feel Crandon noticed one thing else in Houdini's response. I feel he noticed that Houdini was on to them.

What I consider Houdini acknowledged within the seance transcript was that Margery had overcome her points with management in a quite simple means; she now employed seance room confederates. Therefore Houdini's new requirement that he be allowed to convey alongside three or 4 of his personal males. What do you need to wager these “school professors” could be named Collins, Vickery and Williamson? However Houdini was asking for a change and this allowed Crandon to balk.

The seance proceeded the subsequent day as deliberate, however with out Houdini. When Margery went into her trance it was Walter who appeared probably the most dissatisfied, stating:

What are you doing right here? I believed I used to be going to have an evening off and watch Houdini get tied up… He was afraid to come back. He would not have favored to be tied up in that cupboard; I'd have talked to him.

Houdini was held over in Boston for a further week and continued to specific his curiosity in attending a seance. On September 20 he wrote to Crandon instantly:

In view of the numerous rumors, some not so complimentary to me, have heard that you're completely keen for me to attend plenty of séances throughout my keep right here in Boston. Am inquiring whether or not that is the reality as I hear an awesome many issues which may be distorted. For those who would allow me to come back to the séances, I'd be very glad to take action, after any of my performances this week.

Crandon wrote again three days later:

In as a lot as the one worth which might probably be connected to your presence at Lime Road could be as a result of it might afford some amusement to observe your makes an attempt to duplicate these phenomena, and since this you very correctly decline to do, there appears no different compelling cause to your coming once more to Lime Road.

On September 24, his final day on the town, Houdini despatched one other message to Crandon:

Please do not use the standard tactic of ready till I go away after which grant me permission to come back to a seance. I'm sending this to you particular supply, registered, and can be on the theater all day ready your reply.

Crandon wrote again that if Houdini needed a seance he ought to make preparations by way of Dr. McComas. However by this time the professor was again at Princeton.

The subsequent day Houdini left for Worcester and the nice Margery rematch by no means occurred.

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