Posts Tagged ‘carnival’

Secrets of the Sleep Merchants” by William Lindsay Gresham

Background: In junior high English class, one of the exercises was to take a card from a rack, read the article or story on it, then answer a series of questions based on that article or story. The racks were divided by reading level, and most of the students, including myself, were given cards from the average level reading level. The problem was that even then, I was reading at a college level (I read one of my older brothers’ textbooks, “Mythology” by Edith Hamilton, at the age of 8, and was then answering whole columns (in the form a question, of course) labeled “Mythology” while watching “Jeopardy” soon afterward ) and the selections I was given were rather boring. That was when I decided to try something from the advanced rack, and it turned out to be one of those strange hypnosis-related coincidences that pop up every so often in my life.

The article was entitled ‘Secrets of the Sleep Merchants’ and it described how carny stage hypnotists of the early 20th Century used tricks like chloroform or hashish to help induce their subjects. Everything was told from the point of view of the author describing how his father used these tricks. It was a remarkable coincidence, as by even then I had a strong interest in hypnosis. At that time, I decided I would find a copy of this article for myself, as this was only an abbreviated version, so I was sure that I memorized the title of both the article and the magazine it was in, “True, the Men’s Magazine”. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the libraries didn’t collect the magazine. For years, I would periodically make a slight effort at locating the article or the magazine, with no success, searching at paper collectors conventions and approaching collectors, and, then, later, searching eBay: of course, it didn’t help that I could only remember the year of publication, 1955 (my birth year) but not the month.

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