The Times from Shreveport, Louisiana on March 10, 1929 · Page 48
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The Times from Shreveport, Louisiana · Page 48

Shreveport, Louisiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 10, 1929
Page 48
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all H IV . I ' II II II . I R ml : f I I ftfo lite ve.WfViX Informative Photograph of a Settion in the Capitol at! Washington During the Spiritualistic Investigation, Showing iit Foreground Harry Houdini, Whose Testimony Was Dramatic, and Senator Capper. When Miss Mackenberg Took the Stand, Some Mediums Present Stampeded, Demanding Instant Vindication. By ROSE MACKENBERG (Houdlnd Chief Investigator and Private Dettcthe.) CmillM. 102. br Inttrndlaiil Frilur Bcnlr. In OtfU Ciluln Blhu fnmnl 1RUSADE" and "crusader" are to me pie-ly bald words, half black, half white. Of course, you can use them to refer to the loftiest causes and the noblest people, but in ordinary conversation they're apt to suggest attempts at unjustified censorship, prying and snooping, and infringements on the personal liberties of others. But when Harry Houdini and I swooped down on Washington, D. C, three years ago, to stamp out the menace of spurious "mediums," I must confess that my pulse beat a little faster; for I felt that our cause was just and that we had vital information to impart to the Judiciary Sub-committee of the House District Committee, which was conducting a drastic investigation into mediumistic activity in the National Capital. Even before I got on the Limited in New York I had a premonition that there were going to be fireworks the moment I started telling what I knew. I had underestimated my capacity to shock, frighten and enrage it wasn't fireworks I touched off, but an emotional holocaust! Those were super-strenuous days 'in the shadow of the White House.-" filled with near- riots, a welter of conflicting testimony, shouted objections, muttered oaths, copious tears and the most marvelous smashing demonstration on the part of Houdini that a great part of alleged spiritualistic power is the bunk and can be duplicated by any really clever magician, who makes no supernatural pretensions, but is content to rest on his laurels as a performer and entertainer. If your curiosity is aroused you can consult the documentary evidence of the period in the form of affidavits and direct testimony. There was a great mass of this, and the newspapers printed detailed articles about the probe. How I Suddenly Ignited Emotional Piuwheels teas my testimony, brief and 'pointed that touched off the rockets and pinirheels and giant crackers of startled emotion when terathful persona broke in with protestations and shouts of "That's a Iter and "We never did such a thing P Ordinarily, I dislike "scenes, but this pandemonium of unleashed hysteria was not only votcan-ically dramatic, but, to one on the inside looking out, extremely funny. Washington has for years, "you see, been thickly populated with mediums, and I must here repeat an important point that I made in an early chapter of this series. I don't doubt for a second that in Washington, as in many other cities, there are a number of genuinely devout, credulous people who actually believe that they possess supernatural powers; that they can communicate with the dead and bring consolation to the perturbed souls of the bereaved. Of these amiable, well-meaning persons I have no criticism to make, and nothing that I say should be construed as reflecting on their personal integrity. When the chairman's gavel fell with a crash lo signalize the opening of the inquiry, the committee room was packed to suffocation. Tense, anxious faces stared up into his, wondering what was going to happen. Houdini, calm, but with blazing eyes, sat quietly at one side, flanked by me, outwardly placid and inwardly intent Called to the stand, the master magician lost no time in launching as measured and savage an attack as it has ever been my fortune to hear. Disdaining rhetoric and false courtesy, he tore like a whirlwind into the thick of his theme. "Honest and otherwise intelligent men fall a prey to these schemers," he cried. "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the biggest dupe outside of Sir Smashing Revelations Abo Tricksters, Spirit Photog Cabinet Hoaxes, Ordinatioil Phosphorus Wraiths, Told I Wily Young Woman Who the Master magicians n Sleuth: In This Chapter L Panic and Pandemoni TloiemeA in Washington U the Author Testified Bel Governmental Comti This Photo of Edna Best, Famed English Actress. Displays an Unintentional Phenomenon That Some Spiritualists Would Ac claim as a Miracle. Miss Best's Silhouette. Cast on the Wall, Is an Exact Replica of the Profile of Maude Adams, Creator of Barrie's "Peter Pan" in America. It Is in This Role That Miss Best ft Here Pictured, and When the Photo Was First Published, Certain Mediums Raised the Cry of "spirit photography." Oliver Lodge. Doyle has been misguided by 'spiritualists' and has not seen the light. No one can forecast future events." Houdini, unimpressed, but beneath his rigid air of self-command plainly irate, continued : "It is impossible to tell what is going to happen to me or mine. And is it not strange that 'mediums' ltave to charge a dollar or two for predictions when, every day, they could clean up a fortune by foretelling what is going to happen in Wall Street?" This pointed sally drew more hisses; also laughter from "disbelievers." Still Houdini's ammunition held out. "Lodge and Doyle," he remarked, returning to the two noted Englishmen, "are sincere, but deluded in their beliefs. Why, Conan Doyle even claims I possess supernatural powers, when I can demonstrate that all the effects I achieve are by trickery and nothing an ordinary man, equally skilled, couldn't do." Then Houdini Called Doyle a Dupe Then Houdini, who was a superb'showman as well as a fearless and indefatigable seeker after truth, Clinched his arguments by making the action suit the word. He revealed to the spectators, many of whom were frankly astonished, the actual methods by which some "mediums" produce "spirit voices." He delivered "spirit messages" to several Representatives. In accomplishing this, he had recourse to the "trumpet racket," an ingenious device to which 1 shall devote some space in a later chapter. Several of the legislators, with the trumpet to their ears and listening attentively, declared that they heard the messages distinctly, although, on the face of it, neither Houdini nor any assistant of his was speaking into the instrument. "You see?" Houdini said with something like a small shout of triumph. "Just trickery." Hp was about to center into the technique of the stunt when the committee suddenly adjourned, cutting him short in his expose. She had had messages from both her father and mother, and from "my own dear friends in the invisible world. "They were net from Ceorge Washington, or Benjamin), Franklin or Queen Elisabeth, she added with much sarcasm. "As to mediums giving tips on racing and stocks, it is not the desire of the spirit world to increase the pocket book, but to enlarge the human soul. Mrs. Fletcher's trump card, as she regarded it, was the fact that a violin lost by a boy years ago had been recovered as a result of mediumistic advice. "I have known many ministers, doctors, officials, world-renowned writers who have had writings in the sunlight and in electric light, without cabinet or other paraphernalia, through a young girl in a deep irance. i nave naa dozens of such conversations. and have had steno graphic records of some them. ... I have never come in con tact with a medium who is of S m tnm Dunn "PlfrMnl innitlfM od "SclMtt tad iinalll SMOKE PHOTO Flashlight of a "seance" Prearranged Viv Jab1i Dunninffer. Pivchie Inrestigator, in an Effort to Prove That "MAi,m:" Round and Concealed Within a Cab! net. Can Wave Handkerchiefs Through the Curtains' Aperture. When the Plate Was Develof It Was Noticed That There Was a Grayish Blur Over the Curtains. Enlargement of the Negal Showed That the Splotch (Shown in Close-Up, Above, at Right) Remarkably Resembled an Man with a Long Nose. Far from Being a "psychic" uccuirence, the "shot" Was fure acc the Smoke from the Flash Having Been Reflected on the Curtain's Background. Mrs. Fletcher's Defense of Spiritualism Up to this point spiritualism had not made a very brave showing in the investigation, but it did not lack its defenders, and quite warmly valiant ones, too. There was Mrs. Duncan U. Fletcher, wife of the U. S. Senator from Florida, who leaped forward with some fairly impressive testimony. She had been, she said, an ardent in) vestigator of spiritist phenomena for thirty-five years; had conducted successful seances in her own home, and possessed actual proof that prophecies made by mediums had been fulfilled, to the letteiy knowingly dishonest Some mediums hav power than others." Houdini's expressed belief about m had. apparently, not only annoyed Mrs. Fl it had also enraged the Rev. H. B. Strack, tary of the National Spiritualists' Associatj America. Mr. Strack was "dumbfoundec the committee should accept the statement confessed infidel." I this sweeping characterization, and you ably know as well as I that the reputed "in was one of the decentest and most uod-f men who ever lived. "My religion and be! i

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