|Nonsensical Infographic © Chad Hagen|
Edna Ferber, A Peculiar Treasure. New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1939, pp. 114-115—
[While she was working as a newspaper reporter in Appleton WI, Ferber was assigned to interview the famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini, who had grown up in the same town.] Celebrities didn't come our way often. When Houdini, the Handcuff King, arrived with his show he got shorter shrift than he deserved, being a hometown boy. Before my day, he had been a local product, [named] Harry Weiss, the son of a Russian Jewish rabbi. Failing to find him at his hotel I encountered him by chance on College Avenue at the drugstore corner just across from the [Appleton Daily] Crescent office. Outside the store was the usual slot machine containing chocolate and chewing gum. As he chatted affably with me Houdini leaned carelessly against this. At the end of the interview he dropped a cold metal object into my hand.
"There's the padlock to this slot machine," he said. "Better give it to the drugstore man. Somebody'll steal all his chewing gun."
I hadn't seen so much as a movement of his fingers. Tottering with admiration I went back to the office to write my story.
• For more on form and function see this new top-selling book about Frank Lloyd Wright.