With time to kill and my wife Pat at work on a Saturday afternoon about 15 years ago, I drove to an antique mall outside of town to do a little shopping.
This is the card that caught my eye while wandering the aisles. What drew my attention was the Jefferson Theatre return address. For many years my grandfather managed vaudeville at the Majestic Theatre, so I naturally felt some affinity to vaudeville performers.
While thumbing through the cards I saw one with the name “Houdini” as addressee. I thought to myself, “Yeah, right. Houdini.” and skeptically tossed it aside. The cards didn’t seem especially interesting to me but I bought a few anyway. On the drive home I began to think about the “Houdini” name and decided to check on it when I got home. This was the era after the internet but before smartphones.
At home, perhaps using Goggle, but more likely Alta Vista, I quickly discovered that Weiss was Houdini’s real name and that Gladys was his sister. Soon after this discovery, Pat (who shares my love of postcards) returned home from work. Turning to her, I said, “We have to leave NOW! There is a POSTCARD EMERGENCY! We drove back to the mall, went through every card in that booth, buying all we could find from the set. The result was the 36-card set I’ve had for the past 15 years.
Before this event, I never had a particular interest in Houdini. Since then, I’ve learned much more about him and his family but remain primarily a general postcard collector, Houdini collecting being a bit beyond our budget. In spite of this, we continue to search for more random Houdini cards, but, so far, without success.
Bill has sent me a dozen postcard images with permission to share them here on WILD ABOUT HARRY. These have never been shown before, and some of the content is pretty interesting. So ALL THIS WEEK I will devote the blog to these remarkable cards. I think you will enjoy them.
Thank you Bill for the story and the cards.
UPDATE: Our great friend Tom Interval believes the sender of this card, "Beaty Moreland", is likely vaudeville actress Beatrice Moreland (1877-1958). Houdini mentions her on p. 256 of A Magician Among the Spirits. She and Houdini also played at Fairmount Park (Kansas City, Missouri) on the same day in 1899. Moreland got top billing.