From the March 1938 issue of Popular Science. Cigarettes and candy: hospital fare of the day, I guess.


  1. Ok, just had to comment on this with a funny (well, it is funny now) but true story.
    My sister was a smoker up until the day she crashed in a small airplane during a cross-country race. She ended up with 2 broken arms. Fortunately she didn’t ask those of us helping her to mend to hold a cigarette for her!
    We always joked she should open a “stop smoking” clinic.
    I suppose that unless one has a clever buddy the two-broken-arms method would work.

  2. That’s nothin’. Ever see the movie “Freaks” (1932)? Among other things, the movie has the most amazing cigarette-lighting scene in cinematic history.
    Hi Paul– 
    I’ve never seen it.  In fact, I’ve never heard of it.  Maybe the scene will show up on YouTube.

  3. As a fan of old movies, it’s the constant smoking by the characters that never ceases to amaze me. Paul Henreid was famous for his lighting up two cigarettes at once and then handing one to Bette Davis in “Now, Voyager.” It looked so romantic and glamourous and yet in reality, these folks must have stunk to high heaven from all that smoke.
    The other thing that cracks me up is how much doctors smoked in those old films. If they weren’t lighting up bedside while seeing their patients, they were lighting up in hospital halls while talking to their patient’s family.
    That these guys devised a way for the one to get his smoking in while cumbered with broken arms while in a hospital bed doesn’t surprise me at all given the time period. These days you’d see him huddled outside the hospital doors, gown flapping open, as someone holds his cigarette for him.
    Hi Esther–
    Doctors definitely were not immune to the siren call of tobacco.  In case you didn’t see it before, here is an old post of mine on the subject with a great YouTube video.

  4. I’ve heard people say that back in the 40s and 50s doctors prescribed smoking to calm you.
    I remember my kids seeing Forest Gump and freaking at the doc smoking in his office!

  5. It’s in a St. Louis hospital. Funny that they didn’t figure a way to pour a Bud. Afterall, my time in the Lou revealed it to be a nearly wholly owned subsidiary of the Anheuser Busch corporation.
    Link for Tod Browning’s Freaks and Prince Randian, the Human Torso’s ciggy lighting:
    Had a gf who was enraptured by this movie. I always found that very creepy.
    Hi Max–
    The video clip is indeed weird. Reminds me of the Samuel Johnson comment about a woman’s preaching:

    Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.

    Same holds for the human torso lighting a cigarette.
    I know what you mean about the Busch family in St. Louis.  I spent a few years there as a kid and we went to Busch Gardens as a school field trip every year and went to Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals play and saw the Busch Clydesdale horses at every parade…

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