Houdini & Ira Davenport

Houdini returned to NYC in the summer of 1910-boarded a train to cross New York State to the tiny community of Mayville in Chautauqua County. The 2-day train trip was for the specific reason of visiting Ira Davenport—considered an elder statesman of the Spiritualist movement. A tiny stoop shouldered man with a walrus mustache met Houdini at the station in Mayville. Ira, weakened from throat cancer displayed none of his mysterious intensity that captivated audiences around the World.

At Ira’s house he was anxious to talk about the good old days and explain his part in all the controversies and explain his secret of the spirit cabinet. Davenport charmed the young escape artist Houdini. Davenport picked up a cord of rope, moved his chair close to Houdini and smiled—Houdini realized he was now watching history. Houdini’s notebook was at the ready.

Davenport opened his wrists to display the proper way to catch an extra loop of rope and the way of putting his hands behind his back and then tied-enough slack in the rope to slip out.

When Houdini departed he never bothered to travel the extra 20 miles to Lily Dale-the largest community of mediums in the United States. Houdini was not at war with the Spiritualists—that would be a few more years.

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