LEGENDS & MYTHS
FROM THE REEFER MADNESS ERA
THE LEGEND OF THE HOT TAMALE PEDDLER
What the Newspapers were saying:
Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star - Lincoln Nebraska |
- Dec 5, 1937 p4 - “Narcotic Problem Grows” -- Traffic in Marihuana Product Said Common.
Newark, N.J. (INS) Marihuana growing in school yards, “goof butts” concealed under the buns and frankfurters of the “hot dog” wagon for sale to high school students established traffic in the drug as the United States’ biggest narcotics problem. Speakers at the opening session of the interstate commission of crime told almost unbelievable stories of the growth of “reefer” smoking.
Brain McMahon, Assistant U.S. attorney general, reported the weed had been found growing not in a few but in many schoolyards; that school students in Denver, St. Paul, Chicago and New Orleans had been introduced to “reefer” smoking by “hot dog” and tamale peddlers parked at the school curb.
Atty. Gen. Frank H. Patton of New Mexico asserted that Marihuana smoking has been “lifted from the slums to the penthouses” by pleasure loving, hard living, nerve jangled citizens. John J. Bennett. attorney general of New York reported that former bootleggers had turned to marihuana peddling, described the difficulty of stamping down peddling because of the many outlets, the fact that marihuana can be grown anywhere while other narcotics are imported.
MASON CITY GLOBE GAZETTE
- Jan 10, 1940 p6 - “Marijuana Is Subject of Address”
Dr. T.E. Davidson Is Speaker Before Monroe Jr. P.T.A.
“Dr. T.E. Davidson was the speaker at the Monroe Junior high P.T.A. meeting Tuesday evening at the Monroe school, talking on “Marijuana.”
The program which followed a business session was opened with a solo by J.J. Fitzgerald who sang “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair.” Mr. Fitzgerald led the group in singing, Jean Bagley, Etcanore Rae, Olin Storvick and Patty Robinson, a clarinet quartet, played a group of numbers.
In his discussion of Marijuana, Dr. Davidson said that within the past five years, the spread of marijuana smoking has engaged the attention of narcotic officers and those interested in medico legal problems. It was first observed in seaports, then in the states bordering on Mexico and during the last eight years in large metropolitan centers in the U.S. spreading to such an extent in 1931 the International Narcotic Education association in its General convention at the League of nations, acted to include marijuana in an international treaty for the limitation on the distribution of narcotic drugs.
Dr. Davidson described the weed which belongs to the hemp family from which marijuana is extracted. It has a long history going back as far as the Vedas in India and the weed grows prolifically in cities as well as rural communities.
It is peddled by vendors of hot tamales, soft drinks at almost any low class dance hall or night spot in the U.S., according to the speaker who stressed particularly the danger to high school students who become addicted to the use of marijuana. It produces a peculiar psychic exaltation and derangement of the central nervous system and its prolonged use develops a delirious rage which sometimes leads to high crimes.
Dr. Davidson urged that there should be campaigns of education in every school so that children will not be deceived by the wiles of peddlers, but will know of the insanity, the disgrace, the horror which marijuana can bring to its victims.
At the close of the program, flowers were given to the teachers and refreshments were served.
San Antonio Light |
[S]- Dec 11, 1937 - “War Launched on Marihuana” [Editorial]
“Attorneys General from seven states, attending the recent interstate commission on crime at Newark, N.J., instituted a campaign to unite the efforts of all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in stamping out the lethal marihuana traffic.
These officials, and others participating in the conference, agreed unanimously that the traffic in marihuana HAS BECOME THE NATION’S FOREMOST NARCOTIC PROBLEM.
It is especially menacing, they pointed out: FIRST, because the weed can be and is grown and harvested IN ALL PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.
SECOND, because “reefers” or marihuana cigarettes are being peddled daily AMONG THOUSANDS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN. THIRD, because the prolonged smoking of “reefers” produces “COMPLETE MENTAL DETERIORATION” and has caused many addicts to COMMIT ATROCIOUS CRIMES.
Here are some other facts brought out: 1--According to Brien McMahon, assistant United States attorney general, the marihuana weed has been found growing “in many school yards.”
Furthermore, SCHOOL CHILDREN in Denver, New Orleans, St. Paul, Chicago and other cities have been “approached by ‘reefer’ peddler” seeking to make victims of them.
“In some cases,” asserted Mr. McMahon, “the peddlers have been hot tamale or frankfurter peddlers selling their products from push carts near school grounds. Investigation has shown tht underneath the layers of hot dogs and ‘front products’ they have a hidden supply of marihuana sfor sale to those children who can be induced to buy.”
2--According to Frank H. Patton, attorney general of New Mexico, there has been lately a shocking increase in “reefer” smoking IN WEALTHY RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS.
Mr. Patton added: “Nerves jangled by fast life, our pleasure-loving citizens have lifted marihuana smoking FROM THE SLUM SECTIONS of our big cities TO PENTHOUSE PARTIES WHICH ARE BECOMING MORE COMMON EVERY DAY.”
3--According to John J. Bennett, attorney general of New York, no state can possibly eradicate the traffic unless all states and the federal government co-operate completely--this because the “dope” can be produced anywhere and imported with ease into another state.
Mr. Bennett also reported that “many marihuana peddlers” arrested in New York were found to be former bootleggers, who turned to the marihuana “trade” when repeal came in.
He likewise explained that marihuana is peddled locally by HUNDREDS of small “dealers,” whereas other narcotic drugs must be handled by agents relatively few in number, and are relatively costly.
Plainly, the social effects of a widely spreading marihuana habit are too horrible to contemplate.
The poisonous evil must be checked at whatever price.
Not, only must every law-enforcement agency help---every civic agency, every enlightened citizen, must join the campaign.
There is no excuse whatsoever for any quantity of marihuana, however small--not even the medical excuse which attaches to opium and its derivatives and to cocaine.
And marihuana is not merely the most insidious and most available of all habit-forming narcotics--it is the most deadly, destroying the soul and spirit and wits of its confirmed victims before it destroys their bodies.
Against the purveyors of such a public enemy the law must be made efficient and relentless.
To save literally thousands of future victims there must be vigorous and nation wide warning and education.
In particular, the schools from campus down to kindergarten, must teach the young to know that fools who dally with marihuana inevitable bring on themselves DEGRADATION and MISERY and DEATH.
Those who do not soon die at home die in prisons or in mad houses.
The Anniston Star |
- May 29, 1936 p 1 - “Dope Found” -- Birmingham Detectives Find Marijuana On Tamale Peddler”
- Birmingham, Ala., May 29--- (UP) -- City detectives last night arrested John flowers, about 30, Birmingham hot tamale peddler and discovered about five pounds of marijuana, dope weed, in his possession. A tin of Marijuana cigarets was also found, flowers they said, will be turned over to federal authorities and be charged with violating the Federal narcotics Act.
The Delta Democrat Times - Greenville, Mississippi |
- May 25, 1939 p4 - “County Marijuana” [Editorial]
“Among the lengthy list of duties in which county law officers are derelict is that of running down marijuana growers and peddlers. There are entirely too many users of the Mexican narcotic cigarette, including school age boys and girls, in the state and county, and there is apparently about the same effort to apprehend them as there is to cutch or convict killers.
If you don’t think that marijuana is a real menace, consult Lew Wallace, executive secretary of the State Board of Pharmacy.
“Too few people understand how this dangerous marijuana drug may destroy our morals, break up our homes and send people to the electric chair,” says Mr. Wallace.
“Marijuana can be grown almost anywhere. In structure, this weed resembles alfalfa. The dried leaves and stems are the parts used by the bootlegger to make cigarettes.
“The evidence that has been uncovered by the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy as to the widespread presence and use of marijuana in our state is enough to make the blood run cold in the veins of any citizen.
“When one smokes this cigarette, he inhales certain poisonous fumes which attack the brain and which burn away the connecting links between the brain cells. Continued use of marijuana leads to violent insanity.
“The great tragedy of marijuana is its attack on young people. Young boys and girls in high school and college are tempted to try something new, something with an exciting thrill. These cigarettes frequently are peddled for 25c each by small-time racketeers, hot tamale vendors, hot dog stands and occasionally by school janitors.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Nov. 13, 1936
In an earlier raid Joseph Moreno, 36, of 2220 E. 35th Street, a tamale peddler, was arrested at his home and 150 cigarets and bulk "tobacco" confiscated. Moreno told police that cigarets were for his own use.
Fresno Bee -Fresno California|
- Jan 13, 1933 p9 - “Stockton Tamale Cart Bared As Dope Cache”
Stockton, Jan. 13.-- An innocent appearing push cart from which tamales were sold on downtown streets for several months today was revealed as a “blind” for distribution of marihuana and marihuana cigarets. State narcotic inspectors, opening a drive on the traffic in San Joaquin county, arrested Mrs. Jennie Valinsula, 50, tamale maker, and began a search for her husband, who operated the cart. A lower compartment of the cart was constructed to hold marihuana cans.
TULSA TRIBUNE - Sept. 9, 1929 pg.3-
MEXICAN ARRESTED HERE FOR SELLING MARIHUANA PLANTS
Tamale Peddler Accused Making Intoxicating Cigarets
With the apprehension near midnight Sunday of D. M. Miditis, 50, Mexican hot tamale salesman of 1010 E. Archer st., city detectives are believed to have stemmed a flow of of marihuana cigarets which has been noticed about the city recently.
Miditis was arrested at his stand at First street and Madison avenue. At the place were found a number of drugged cigarets.
A Visit to the home revealed a quantity of the branches of drug leaves drying and in the back yard was found a large crop of the plants growing profusely despite the common belief that the specie will not thrive in a climate as far north as that of Oklahoma.
YOUTHS ARE PATRONS
The officers expressed the belief that the unusually hot and dry summer here contributed to the success of the crop. Some of the plants were as high as a man's head, they said.
On strength of observations made over a period of some days the officers described Miditis’ home as a veritable dope den where young boys and girls, of high school age, as well as others have been known to go to obtain the drugged cigaret.
It is pointed out that the drug has a very intoxicating effect, leading to severe nervous disorders and eventually to insanity if used to excess.
CASE IN CONTINUED
Today in police court, after the remainder of the night spent in the city jail, Miditis , with his son John 17, a Western Union Telegraph Co. messenger boy acting as interpreter, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of the drug, the maximum penalty for which is a $100 fine and 90 days imprisonment.
In an effort to obtain actual proof for a charge of sale of the drug against the Mexican, however, Judge P.H Moroney continued the case to Tuesday.
The arrest of the alleged dope peddler was made by Officers Hendricks, Larrimore and Phillips.