In the mid-90s, I worked for a used book store when I first started teaching. I got first crack at all the old dusty books that people Houdini Book coverwheeled in from estate sales, attics, and yard sales. Many times I would grab something for myself. I would toss it aside and take stacks of books home when I could afford them. Some of these books got put in boxes and left for years.

Recently I came across this book, Houdini: A Magician Among The Spirits. This book actually still has the dust jacket, and I found this message written on the inside. It’s chilling. I have included a scan of it and here is what I could figure out to transcribe:

“It would not surprise me if you find me dead.

Something has happened to my … systems–my hand and feet get blue and this time the whiskey did not help-

All night down at … … breaking sparrows-managed to get the horses fed tho, also I smell strange smells that I know do not exist. Roses, flowers-and an ugly dirty smell like old feet and death. Could be that is the smell of death?

Rather than be butchered in the hospital I think I’ll just lie here and end it first.

in 100% … … – jock”

I just feel as though it is a message that needs to be read. I have no idea how old it is. It could have sat for years before someone brought it to the store. I think it’s fitting how chose this book to write, what appears to be, a farewell to a friend. Or could it be a joke? Did Jock get better? Is it his last message to the world?

If you can figure out any of the words or I have gotten something wrong, please let me know.

Houdini book text