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Updated: Feb 3, 2023

By Morris N. Young, M.D.

Reprinted with permission from The International Brotherhood of Magician, The Linking Ring 1992

Accompanied by Hardeen's widow, John McManus and I stepped down into the cellar of her home at 537 East 21st Street, Flatbush, in Brooklyn. We were respectfully curious. Confronting us was a dismal scene that resembled the litter inside an abandoned barn. There was a shambles of wood, metal, cloth, paper, boxes, trunks and otherwise not readily identifiable objects. Hardeen had been gone almost six years.

Permission was given to John and me to take whatever we wished, but to have the place cleaned out by the end of the week, as Mrs. Elsie Hardeen was moving out. She related that since her husband had passed away, many people had scoured the cellar, purchasing or taking whatever they liked. Al Flosso was the last to do so.

John, an attorney, chose to stand by, chatting with Mrs. Hardeen about legal problems which had been concerning her. While they talked, I began my tour of inspection for finds. A quick survey noted that the central open area of the basement was bordered by a coal bin, an open alcove, and a small storage room. The fourth wall was covered with aging brown boards.

A body-shaped framework made of wires lured me to the alcove where it lay upon a heap of crumbled dirty tarpaulin-like cloth. No other parts for an Astra illusion were locatable thereabouts. The next attraction was the coal bin from which a frame of metal with mahogany colored sidings peeked out. Two more similar contraptions were stacked in the open bin, each frame enclosing different designed slats, and all recalling a top for the Chinese Water Torture Cell. Mrs. Hardeen explained that "They" had been working on various types of improvements.

These cuffs were the last to be removed from the Houndini-Hardeen estate home of Hardeen's wife and were written about in The Linking Ring with an article title The Last Handcuffs. The cuffs play a central role in the story of Houdini's return to life in Cheryl and Charlie's historical fiction novel Houdini's Last Handcuffs. The novel will be released by Vine Leaves Press in 2024.

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