1910s

Bottle: Glykeron Glyco-Heroin (Smith) Heroin content ‘ grain to fluid ounce Alcohol 3 ‘ per cent. Glyco-Heroin (Smith) embraces the most active antispasmodic, balsamic and expectorant agents. It possesses analgesic, dyspnea-dispelling, inflammation allating and mucus-liquefying properties in a remarkably high degree. The anodyne and antispasmodic influence of the preparation on the respiratory system renders it especially useful where cough is attended with pain, difficult breathing or laborious expectoration. Dose- The adult dose in one teaspoonful every two hours, or at longer intervals, as the individual case requires. For children of ten years or more, the dose is from one-quarter to one-half teaspoonful: for children of three years or more, five to ten drops. This product is designed expressly for the use of physicians. Martin H. Smith Co. Phamaceutical Chemists, New York.

Box: Glykeron Glyco-Heroin (Smith) For the Treatment of Cough Asthma Phthisis Pneumonia Bronchitis Laryngitis Whooping Cough and Kindred Affections This package sealed and Adopted October 1910. Sixteen Fluid Ounces Net.

‘You want a blow too” John asked.

‘I hardly knew what he meant. ‘Blow’ was the drug addict’s term for a shot of his dope.

‘Go ahead, it’ll pep you up,’ John urged. ‘Give him some of your joy powder, Monk…’

‘You’d better buy a few extra blows for yourselves. You fellows are getting a yen, and you’ll find it’s something you can’t fool around with. All you have to do is go to Warner’s drug store on Thirty-eighth Street and ask for a dollar’s worth of heroin tablets. You can squash ’em to a powder by rolling a pencil over them like this”he demonstrated, using his pencil like a rolling pin”and you’ll get the same kick as you do out of powder…’

‘At last the strip of yellow light under the kitchen door vanished. I waited half an hour and then slipped into the bathroom. With the gas lighted and the door latched, I crushed one of my precious tablets on a newspaper by rolling the handle of the wash brush over it. It caked in a thin layer. I raked it with my forefinger and saw that it really was a fine powder. Lifting the paper to my nostrils, I inhaled the dust deeply. It had the same smell as John’s but lacked the sting.

‘The reaction was instantaneous. I relaxed and at the same time was intensely alive. I gazed with what I thought was new insight at the white-enameled iron tub, the shelf with a few medicine bottles, hair tonic, and empty fruit jar holding the family toothbrushes. These homely objects were about to confer a new meaning to my specially alerted brain. But before that could happen I became fascinated by the gas jet. The blue and yellow flames swayed and rippled in a draft through the crack at the top of the door, and in just a moment would merge into a wonderful pattern. Perhaps they did but my attention was distracted by the sound of voices across the air shaft. That would be the Neilsons. They talked so softly I could not hear any words, so I thought about their daughters, pretty kids with nice legs. I couldn’t keep my mind even on the Neilson girls’ legs for long…

‘I resolved that tomorrow my school work would begin to get back to its former standard. I would join one of the Cooper Union art classes. I would take that job with the firm on Dad’s mail route. I would knock ’em dead with my drawings. I would be rich and famous and see the world.

‘I was almost sixteen now, and I was happy as I drifted off to sleep at last. But also, in the terrifying graphic slang of the drug addict, I was hooked.’

Leroy Street, I Was a Drug Addict, 1953

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