Benzedrine for Breakfast

Houghton Library Blog 2016-03-03

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

 Benzedrine for Breakfast is the autobiography of Noreen Price, who lived quite an unconventional life.  Born in South Africa by accident because her Dutch mother missed the boat while visiting relatives there.  Noreen was schooled in a French convent and spent time in several different countries while growing up.  Raised as a debutante in the 1930s she briefly dabbled in modeling and after two marriages, lots of champagne, mink coats, and caviar her life took a turn that most would not expect when she became a smuggler.
Img0014 At loose ends after her second marriage ended she met a man named Johnny and began to smuggle cigarettes from Tangier into Spain at a decent profit.  With her daring methods her organization was soon operating out of North Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, and even into England.  Eventually Noreen was caught and sentenced to a year of prison in the Holloway Jail as well as a thousand pound fine.  Her description of her time in prison is filled with stories of her trying to exploit the system, descriptions of how dull it was on the inside, and her attempts to get back in the smuggling game in prison.  The writing style is very entertaining and you can see from the captions that accompany her photos that she had a droll sense of humor.
To learn more about her exploits you can find Benzedrine for breakfast / Noreen Price and Peter Jackson. London : Robert Hale Limited, [1963] in Widener’s collection.
Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project for contributing this post.