Recently I found a remarkable article written by Houdini in the May 11, 1923 issue of The Vaudeville News. In it he discusses some of the "long jumps" he's made throughout his career. A "jump" refers to the distance traveled between bookings. As a rule, the shorter a jump the better, especially if a performer is paying their own traveling expenses. (You'll see many references to "jumps" in the upcoming diary book.)
There's one jump mentioned here that has me particularly intrigued, but I'll come back to that after you've enjoyed the article.
The jump I want to discuss is his jump from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, to Chicago in 1903. This is the first I've heard any trip back to the America in 1903!
Unfortunately, I can find no confirmation that Houdini was in Chicago at this time. Our friend Bill Mullins reminds me that the Russian dates of Houdini's Dramatic Mirror column, when adjusted to the Gregorian calendar, show he was in Russia within a week of opening in Holland. In that same column Houdini writes that he spent time in Berlin after Russia. So there doesn't appear to be enough time for him to travel to America and back. A diary could solve the mystery, but no diary from 1903 is known to exist.
Still, I don't know why Houdini would make something like this up? The other jumps he discusses check out (more or less). And Dordrecht did follow Nizhny Novgorod. So I'm not sure what to make of this one.
If anyone can find any evidence of Houdini aboard a ship or in Chicago in late August or early September 1903, I'd love to hear about it!
Thanks to Bill Kalush and Bill Mullins for their help. Top photo from The Original Houdini Scrapbook by Walter B. Gibson.