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HOUDINI'S ESCAPES AND MAGIC

Houdini's unique challenges in Scranton, PA. during the vaudeville era..

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Houdini did a unique historic challenge in the Pocono - Scranton region with the J. B. Woolsey and Company constructed a strong and solid wooden box on stage and challenged Houdini to escape from it. They believed boxes brought by Houdini or those left overnight in the theater on exhibition could be tampered with. It was built on stage in full view, and sealed tight with seven pounds of nails and tied with rope three quarters of an inch thick and wrapped the rope around the box several times. The construction workers who sealed him in the box on stage were Morgan Diffenbach, N. S. Brink, and E. E. Miller. Houdini escaped from the box in six minutes. Houdini's only provision in the construction of the box was that it would not be made airtight in the event it took him a while to escape. J. B. Wollsey and Company were well known general contractors and did construction throughout the area.

A fact not known to the residents of Scranton was that the beer cask escape from the cask supplied by Scranton Brewery in a challenge by them, was one in which Houdini's life came into real danger and was one in which Houdini was not fully in control. Milbourne Christopher writes in his biography of Houdini that the last recorded date of record of Houdini doing an escape with beer was in 1912. It was a historic occasion in Scranton when Houdini did it here in 1915. Standard Brewery was well known for Tru-Age beer, fully brewed for 9 months. Houdini's only stipulation was that the workers devise a way of sealing the cover quickly so Houdini wouldn't be deprived of air for more than a couple of minutes. Houdini also agreed, as always, "that no one will be held liable in the event of anything happening to Houdini in his efforts to win the wager." Standard Brewery has been closed for many years. Antiques from the Brewery are exhibited at the Houdini Museum. Houdini originally accepted the beer escape assuming it would be an escape like many others Houdini did getting out of confinement in water. Houdini, who did not drink, was easily overcome by the alcohol. Houdini did not, early on, realize the danger of the alcoholic substance and the fumes. At one performance in England, had it not been for Houdini's assistant Franz Kukol, Houdini might have drowned. He was only partially conscious when the assistant, unsettled by the quiet behind the curtain dashed in and hauled Houdini out. The lack of oxygen due to the carbonation of the beer made Houdini groggy and Houdini nearly passed out and drowned. On that show a stagehand joked, "Why run away from the beer, Mr. Houdini? It's what most of us run after." Houdini even tried to rub his entire body with oil so as not to absorb the alcohol into his pores, with little avail.

Houdini always asked the brewery to deliver plenty of extra beer to the theater which Houdini distributed to the stagehands at the end of the engagement. Houdini knew better than to distribute it during his engagement as it could endanger his life should it be the cause of something to go wrong during a performance. Houdini later revealed to associates the tales of danger and how he hated to use beer in escapes and had decided never to do an escape from such an object again. Houdini never liked do escapes in which he felt he was not fully in control. It was a historic occasion in Scranton when Houdini did it here in 1915. Standard Brewery was well known for Tru-Age beer, fully brewed for 9 months. Houdinišs only stipulation was that the workers devise a way of sealing the cover quickly so Houdini wouldn't be deprived of air for more than a couple of minutes. Houdini also agreed, as always, "that no one will be held liable in the event of anything happening to him in his efforts to win the wager." Standard Brewery has been closed for many years. Antiques from the Brewery are exhibited at the Houdini Museum. The Famous Beer Cask Escape!


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Web Sites of Interest

Magicians Calendar. | Houdini site. | | The Houdini Seances. | The Jinxed Bullet Catch! | Origianl Houdini Seance. | CityDirectories | GuestMagazine | HoneymoonDirectory | HoneymoonDiscounts | Houdini.org | Pocono.net | Pocono.org | PoconoCoupons | PoconoDiscounts | PoconoFunGuide | PoconoGetaway | PoconoGetaways | PoconoHoneymoon | PoconoHoneymoons | PoconoHotels | PoconoRestaurants | PoconosHoneymoon | PolarAuctions | http://Scranton.org | WhereToFindTravel | KaeserBlair wholesale imprinted souvenirs | Comprehensive listing of magic events throughout the world | Haunted events throughout the world that run most of the year. |

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