In the Medical and surgical reporter, Volume 58 of 1888 a letter was written to the editor of this journal by a Smyrna doctor. He told of an unusual happening and asked if others knew of cases like this.
Ed. Med. And Surg. Reporter:This is part of a series I'm doing as the mood strikes of the writing, words, and images of the history of Smyrna, and its people.
Sir:—At the risk of being considered over-credulous or easily deceived, I write you in regard to a novel case that recently came under my notice.
A negro man, named Bill Jones, 39 years old, recently visited this State. He says he has been eating glass since he was two years old. He has never been sick enough to require the attention of a physician. I saw him eat part of a lamp chimney while on exhibition, and took him to my office and saw him perform the same feat two or three times. Most people will not believe he eats the glass, but 1 know it is no trick of legerdemain.
If I am not mistaken, it has been the opinion of the profession, as well as of the laity, that powdered glass was sure to cause death if swallowed in any large quantity. This negro says he has eaten as many as five large lamp chimneys without stopping. He chews the glass about as fine as one would ice. He says he discharges it from his bowels in the same state as when swallowed. He never suffers from any pain in his stomach or bowels. Have you, or any of your readers, ever seen or heard of such a case? Please don't say that it is simply a sleight-ofhand performance. I know he eats the glass. Yours, truly, B. B. Gracy, M.D.
Smyrna, Tenn., Dec. 26, 1887.
[There can be no doubt that certain public performers have chewed and swallowed glass with apparent impunity, and we have no doubt that Dr. Gracy's observation is correct. If glass be chewed small enough, it would probably be a fairly safe, though not a very nutritious, article of food. Most people would find it impossible to chew the glass without cutting their mouths. But, if they succeeded in this step, there is no reason why it should not pass through the bowels. —Editor Of The Reporter.]