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THE COMING OF THE ANTI-MEDICAL MARIHUANA LAWS:


THE LEGEND OF THE HIGH SCHOOL SUPPLY STORE
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INVESTIGATING THE UNFINDABLE:
This isn't one of Anslinger's Gore file cases so much as it is a legend of the Reefer Madness era. Granted it played second fiddle to other legends such as that of the High School Janitor who (like the Butler in one of those old Agatha Christie novels) was always the guilty party.   And yes, even to those of the hot Tamale pushcart vendor.   ---- However, as one can see from the quotations (below), the legend of the school supply store was also way on up there.
In Chicago the press has said: -- "Shocked by disclosures of dope being; peddled to high school students, police and school officials of Chicago yesterday lunched a double-barreled drive against the traffic in habit-forming drugs ...."Informed that peddlers of marihuana, held by crime fighters to be as vicious as narcotics or opiates, are making their headquarters near high schools, Superintendent of Schools Bogan ordered his district superintendents to launch an 7investigation and submit reports.   Lieutenant William Cusack, head of the narcotic squad, revealed the marihuana weed is being grown domestically-plots of ground being devoted to it within a few miles of Chicago. . . . He has sent 197 peddlers of it to jail, deported 50 persons to Mexico for selling the weed, seized 167 pounds of marihuana and 183,000 cigarets---within the past year. "   -- The Union Signal (WCTU) Feb 1935

The marihuana, in cigaret form, had been procured in this case, from the man who kept a school supply store just around the corner from the school.   (If any of my readers wish to locate any source of supply of marihuana cigarets in his or her city let him look first within a block of the high school! This storekeeper sold chocolate bars and gum; milk and school supplies.   The children initiated into the "reefer" group pooled the candy and milk money given them by fond parents, and purchased a supply of "Mary Warners".   The lower-than-skunk storekeeper in this case, supplied them with a basement room, which he had furnished with a couple of old mattresses and other needed pieces of furniture.   Here he could guarantee them freedom from interference for hours at a time.   He had even sent his wife and family away on an extended visit to make sure that his illicit operations would not be discovered.
Here the youngsters played at being married.   Rings stolen from the ten-cent stores served to bind the mock ceremonies which permitted unbridled lusts to have full sway.   Probing by the juvenile judge resulted in shamefaced girls sobbing out sordid stories disclosing many nights of debauchery and degradation.   Sometimes these young girls would be too drunk to leave the basement where they had staged their "parties" and so had to stay all night.   Each party was a continuous round of dissipation, drunkenness and drugs.
The stories of the girls varied according to the number of marihuana parties they had attended.   Some of them said they had started their wrongdoing because they lost control of themselves after smoking a few "Mary Warners".   One said she had gone ahead even though she knew it was wrong, because she "loved" her boy friend and was afraid that some other girl would take him from her.
One boy, 16 years of age, just before he was called to testify, took his "girl" by the arm and said: "Don't worry, kid.   I've been in this mess before and I can tell whether it's serious or not.   They won't do anything to us.   All they'll do is tell us to be good."
But the little girl was really afraid.   She had heard something said about a doctor and a physical examination.   Poor child, the marks of her serious adventures were stamped upon her for life.   All but one of her little girl friends were in her unfortunate class.   The sole exception was found just in time to save her from the same fate as the others.
The story itself reads like many other records of almost any juvenile court.   But no amount of repetition or callousness can take away the tragedy and misery of each individual case. Detailed evidence in court describes such parties as are staged by young boys and girls who have learned to smoke marihuana cigarets.   --- RELIGIOUS DIGEST  Dec. 1937 - "THE MENACE OF MARIHUANA" By Robert James Devine

"Investigation of the sale of drugs to, school children in the M----- school district was ordered last night after a boy of fifteen had attacked his father, a music teacher, with a knife while crazed with marihuana cigarets.   Only the father's quick action in wresting the weapon from the youth saved the parent from death or serious injury.   After hearing the boy's story the officers arrested the owner of the school store and the clerk from whom the boy said he bought the cigarets."   -- The Union Signal (WCTU) Feb 1935

In Chicago a school supply store was discovered selling reefers to boys and girls, some of whom had become temporarily blinded by the weed.   -- American Mercury - Dec 1935

In Chicago, according to newspaper reports, a school-supply house sold marihuana to high-school boys and girls for five cents per cigarette.   --- The truth about narcotic Drugs 1943

Another Chicago paper stated: "Dope peddlers lurk near Chicago high schools with abundant supplies of narcotics for gullible teen-age students, school principals complain.   At one school, students have told their principal they can purchase 'reefers' from push-cart peddlers who ostensibly sell luncheon frankfurters.   Purchases are also made from agents in alleys, parks, hallways, hotel rooms, and even, in at least one case, from the head usher in a theater.   The school principals are alarmed by the increasing addiction to narcotics.   They agree that the ironclad rule of 'no-smoking' discourages the 'reefer' smoker until classes are dismissed.   After that, the peddlers take over.   We've had the police chase them away, but they always come back."   -- Assassin of Youth (Book) 1954 By Robert Devine
The above makes for a good story, and probably, at least some of it, has some truth behind it.   OUR only problem is that so far this museum has not been able to actually track down any collaborating information proving that this school supply store even existed.   HOWEVER, it is our sincere opinion that such a storefront DID EXIST and that there is probably some grains of truth to this story.   And that one day we will be able to locate some sort of information related to the case.   At the present time however, the reader should be aware that (despite a good faith effort on our part), we have been unable to locate any actual (independent, say a newspaper) accounts on the matter.   Specifically, we have done extensive searches of the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Defender, . . . without any success, as well as contacted local school boards, etc.


THE FACTS, -- WHAT HAVE WE BEEN ABLE TO FIND OUT:
For those of you out there who pride yourselves as arm-chair detectives, it might be interesting to see how the museum goes about (at least trying to) identify these old legends.   Let's begin by looking over the oldest known mention of the case, which comes to us from THE UNION SIGNAL, which is the official publication of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
The Union Signal - Jan. 23, 1935 p117
Citizens of the United States scarcely [. . ed] "Narcotic Education Week" to know something of the "dope" menace on life and health of the nation.

"Dope User, 15, Tries to Kill"; "Dope Peddled to High School Students"; "Paregoric, Marihuana and Death Impulse"; "Doped Cigaret Puts Hundreds in drug Toils" have been [. . . .] of the headlines greeting readers of daily papers during the nation-wide drive of Federal authorities against the illicit drug traffic which have followed the discovery of "dope dens" and other evidence of a well-organized and pitiless campaign to enslave youth and adults in the drug habit.

In Chicago the press has said:
"Shocked by disclosures of dope being; peddled to high school students, police and school officials of Chicago yesterday launched a double-barreled drive against the traffic in habit-forming drugs ....
"Informed that peddlers of marihuana, held by crime fighters to be as vicious as narcotics or opiates, are making their headquarters near high schools, Superintendent of Schools Bogan ordered his district superintendents to launch an investigation and submit reports.   Lieutenant William Cusack, head of the narcotic squad, revealed the marihuana weed is being grown domestically-plots of ground being devoted to it within a few miles of Chicago. . . . He has sent 197 peddlers of it to jail, deported 50 persons to Mexico for selling the weed, seized 167 pounds of marihuana and 183,000 cigarets---within the past year."
Commissioner Allman was the authority for the statement that morphine, opium, cocaine, heroin and marihuana have enslaved at least ten thousand Chicago men and women.

One of the drug-habit tragedies reads in part:
"Investigation of the sale of drugs to, school children in the M----- school district was ordered last night after a boy of fifteen had attacked his father, a music teacher, with a knife while crazed with marihuana cigarets.   Only the father's quick action in wresting the weapon from the youth saved the parent from death or serious injury.   After hearing the boy's story the officers arrested the owner of the school store and the clerk from whom the boy said he bought the cigarets."
Another account is that of a lad of nineteen who "had been brought to the verge of suicide by drugs," and who led the narcotic squad in raiding an apartment:
"The young victim said he was driven to desperation by marihuana cigarets he had smoked there, . . . . and had tried to plunge into the river." Prevented by passersby, he was taken to the Boys' Court, where "he confessed he had spent many nights in the apartment where, he said, the drug was sold to boys and girls who were allowed to sleep off the effect.   He had been a choir boy when he fell into the clutches of a [pare. . . ] . . . . He [ . . . ] at the chance to take a three-months cure at the Bridewell."
Questioned as to whether these stories are exaggerated, both Lieutenant William Cusack, head of the Chicago narcotics squad, and Mrs. Elizabeth Bass, in charge of the Government forces, declared, as quoted by the press, that $100,000,000 a year is being spent for deadly and vicious dope in Chicago and surrounding territory alone! Add to this the amount spent in other cities, large and small, and some faint conception may be gained of the need for protection and education against the illegal narcotic traffic, and the drug habit.

THE NATIONAL ASPECT
A glimpse of the national aspect may be gleaned from the following press excerpts:

"Hundreds of young girls, daughters of prominent Chicago families are treading the road to drug addiction, by way of the marihuana cigaret . . . . Proof of this hateful traffic among young women of gentle breeding, came following the identification in New York of a girl . . . . arrested in a narcotic raid together with another girl and a narcotic peddler . . . . Shamed by the disgrace of her arrest, M----- tried to commit suicide......"

New York dispatches quote M's guardian as saying,
"I understand that many daughters of the best families in Chicago are held prisoners in their own homes while their parents try to cure them of the dope habit."

The other girl told the reporter: "I started to use narcotics at school because nearly every other girl used them." The two girls had had an abundant supply of spending money and had been studying at "an exclusive and expensive school" where they had picked up the marihuana habit, and had become easy prey to the other narcotic drugs.

Within a few days during a nationwide Federal drive last December more than eight hundred peddlers and narcotic denizens of the underworld were arrested, including "criminals of every description, public enemies, bank robbers, stick-up men and petty thieves."

One of the peddlers in Chicago "confessed that he had been selling dope at the rate of $1,300,000 a year, and that many women and girls came to his apartment in Chicago for their daily dope jamboree."

In Cleveland, leaders of a ring have been seized who were not content with supplying addicts with drugs but plotted to ensnare large groups of new victims, by giving boys and girls "free samples."

In Baltimore a hotel was used as headquarters for a mail order narcotics business, heroin and opium being sent out to all parts of the country.

OTHER CRIMES CAUSED BY DOPE ADDICTION
It has been estimated that 80 per cent of drug addicts become criminals for they will lie, steal, or commit almost any crime to get the money with which to buy their "dope." A large portion of the inmates of the Federal penitentiaries are either drug addicts or were convicted for violation of narcotic laws.   Thousands of cases .of shop lifting, pocket picking, and petty theft, as well as a great many crimes of violence, can be traced to drug addiction.

Of the effect of marihuana [ . . . . ] of which so often [ . . . . ] to habit-forming [ . . . . ] Cusack of the Chicago narcotics squad declared,
"It creates excitement in the victim's mind and nervous system, causes delusions of grandeur, breaks down will power and makes the addict ready for any crime, even murder.

"Not only will the marihuana smoker steal and kill to buy the dope," the lieutenant said, "but he will continue to do, so while under the influence of it."

What can be done to remedy this situation?
The work falls quite naturally into four departments.   The first is legislative and the emphasis is being put on uniform state laws to assist the Federal Narcotic Bureau in its fight.   The Bureau exercises control over manufacture, registrations, importations(sic) and interstate traffic in drugs, carries on the fight against smuggling and the illicit traffic and prosecutes violators of the law in any of these respects, but the Federal Government cannot revoke the state, license of a physician, dentist or druggist, who violates the narcotics laws.

All state legislatures meeting in 1935 which have not yet passed the Uniform State Narcotic Act should be urged to make that special effort at this time.   In addition, there must be a constant war against the illicit drug traffic (always including marihuana) and against the crimes which are an outgrowth thereof.

The second aspect of the question is the international work to have each nation ratify the international agreement, called the Geneva Convention of 1931.   This limits the manufacture and distribution of these dangerous drugs, to the medical and scientific requirement.   The United States has kept very well to this agreement, so, that the present situation is due almost entirely to the smuggling from other countries.

The next matter of importance is the segregation and rehabilitation of drug addicts---for their own sake, and for the protection of others.   Narcotic hospitals, found in only a few states, should be maintained in every state.

Finally, youth and the public at large, must be educated that they may not become addicts, and that they may help in the fight to protect their own and other countries against the "dope" evil.


The above article was reprinted (in its entirety) for two reasons.
  1.   First, it is the earliest known mention (Feb. 1935) that we know about.   Meaning that the incident (if it actually did occur), occurred before then.

  2.   Second, the WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union) despite what one might think, actually did do its (what we now term) fact checking, and has never been caught lying -- not even once.   Thus what they put into print (while slanted toward prohibition) can actually be believed.
Now, in order to help us pin down the exact date in which the incident was alleged to have occurred, let's look at the personages made mentioned of.
"Superintendent of Schools Bogan ordered his district superintendents to launch an investigation and submit reports."
This is making reference to William Joseph Bogan (a well know educator) who became Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools in 1928, we can thus limit our time frame between those two dates.   [between 1928 -to- Feb 1935] There is also mention of one Chicago Commissioner James Allman, but he became commissioner way back in Oct. 1, 1931, so that also doesn't help us out much.

The article also mentions (by name) Mrs. Elizabeth Bass, who (for good or for bad) made history when she was appointed District Supervisor for the DEA (then known as the Bureau of Narcotics), in 1933 for the Chicago area.   Thus we can further limit our time frame as being from 1933 -to- Feb 1935.   Also note,

Note that if we can determine EXACTLY on what date Mrs. Bass was appointed as head narc, that this would further limit our time frame a bit more. .   Also note that Lieutenant William Cusack, (head of the narcotic squad), was also mentioned by name, however as he served in the role well before and well after that time frame, this bit of information can be ignored for now.

NOW, let's look over what details we have on the incident itself.

(1)   The quoted newspaper headlines were as follows:
    "Dope User, 15, Tries to Kill"
    "Dope Peddled to High School Students"
    "Paregoric, Marihuana and Death Impulse"
    "Doped Cigaret Puts Hundreds in drug Toils"
A quick check over our own museum newspaper indexes shows that we do not have any of these articles.   Now here (once again), we are not saying that these newspaper stories did not occur.   If the WCTU says that they did, they most likely did occur, but whatever newspaper they did come from, it simply wasn't one of the major ones that's for sure.   In addition, if one notices the way the article is worded, there is a chance that these newspaper articles came from national, not Illinois newspapers.

[All this translates into -- It would be great if we could locate these articles, and they might tell us a lot about the incident, HOWEVER, at this time we simply have not been able to locate them]

(2)   Now let's look into one of the newspaper quotations given:
"Investigation of the sale of drugs to, school children in the M----- school district was ordered last night after a boy of fifteen had attacked his father, a music teacher, with a knife while crazed with marihuana cigarets.   Only the father's quick action in wresting the weapon from the youth saved the parent from death or serious injury.   After hearing the boy's story the officers arrested the owner of the school store and the clerk from whom the boy said he bought the cigarets."
We assume this quotation corresponds to the headline, "Dope User, 15, Tries to Kill."   AND it specifically mentions the School Store as well as something referred to as the M___ School district, BUT there is NO mention of the wedding rings, or the fun and games that were supposed to have been taking place.   This means that this part of the legend may not yet have been created, but most assuredly this is the origin of the legend.

[MUSEUM NOTE:]   We have made every effort to contact the M___ school district, etc., but for some reason have never received a reply of any kind.


THE LEGEND AS STATED BY THE REVEREND ROBERT JAMES DEVINE:
Rev. Devine version of the story runs as follows:
"The marihuana, in cigaret form, had been procured in this case, from the man who kept a school supply store just around the corner from the school. . . This storekeeper sold chocolate bars and gum; milk and school supplies.   The children initiated into the "reefer" group pooled the candy and milk money given them by fond parents, and purchased a supply of "Mary Warners".   The lower-than-skunk storekeeper in this case, supplied them with a basement room, which he had furnished with a couple of old mattresses and other needed pieces of furniture.   Here he could guarantee them freedom from interference for hours at a time.   He had even sent his wife and family away on an extended visit to make sure that his illicit operations would not be discovered.

Here the youngsters played at being married.   Rings stolen from the ten-cent stores served to bind the mock ceremonies which permitted unbridled lusts to have full sway.   Probing by the juvenile judge resulted in shamefaced girls sobbing out sordid stories disclosing many nights of debauchery and degradation.   Sometimes these young girls would be too drunk to leave the basement where they had staged their "parties" and so had to stay all night.   Each party was a continuous round of dissipation, drunkenness and drugs.

The stories of the girls varied according to the number of marihuana parties they had attended.   Some of them said they had started their wrongdoing because they lost control of themselves after smoking a few "Mary Warners".   One said she had gone ahead even though she knew it was wrong, because she "loved" her boy friend and was afraid that some other girl would take him from her.   Etc."   --- RELIGIOUS DIGEST (Dec. 1937), " THE MENACE OF MARIHUANA" By Robert James Devine
OK, leaving aside the fact that you were probably never invited to those kind of parties, let's just look at the mechanical facts of the story -- That:
  • (there was) a school supply store just around the corner from the school

  • (that) the lower-than-skunk storekeeper in this case, supplied them with a basement room

  • Sometimes these young girls would be too drunk to . . [--- the alcohol factor is important here as prohibition was in effect until sometime in mid-1933]
Now, once again, keep in mind that what actually happened (in all probability) was somewhat different than what Mr. Divine claims that it was.   Still, taking him at his word, and that fact that we are looking for the M. . . .school district in Chicago.   The above acts to limit the exact geography quite a bit.   Not enough to ID the incident, but enough to begin looking for clues.   After some scans of our museum newspaper headlines brings up the following:
SENTENCED FOR SELLING MARIHUANA James Collarile, 41 years old, 2048 West Grand avenue, was fined $50 and sentenced to 60 days in the house of correction yesterday by Judge Francis B. Allegretti for selling marihuana cigarets to students of the McKinley High school.   --- Chicago Tribune May 11, 1932 p4
Here take note of the fact that the date is a bit off, but not by much . . . . could this Mr. Collarile be our mystery shop owner?   A quick look (via google maps) shows that 2048 W. Grand Ave, while not exactly " just around the corner" from the McKinley High School, still is close enough to qualify.   Next, the building (a white brick shop) looks about right.   Humm! Could this be it?

Maybe, but then again, maybe not.   Looking over the 1930's census does not show a 41 year old James Collarile living in Chicago anywhere.   But boy, wouldn't it be something if his census records were found and under " occupation" the words "shop owner" were found.
AFTERWARDS:
Thus, (as was stated at the beginning), we are still looking for but have NOT AS YET, been able to ID this very famous incident of the Reefer Madness era.   However, (again) we believe that it does indeed have a bases for some truths and as such we will continue searching.   [HINT: If anyone out there that lives in Chicago wants to help out by going over to their public library and searching over OLD newspaper articles, PLEASE, that would be of great help.]



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