anti superstition society of chicago

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LIFE magazine photographer William C. Shrout attended a dinner of the venerable Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago in 1940. He took pictures of cookies, black cats, ladders, cracked mirrors, and the head of the Chicago district of the Secret Service, Thomas J. Callaghan, inside a coffin:

“At 6:13 p.m. on Friday, the 13th of December, 169 audacious and irreverent gentlemen sat down to dine at 13 tables in Room 13 of the Merchants & Manufacturers Club of Chicago. Each table seated 13. Upon each rested an open umbrella, a bottle of bourbon and 13 copies of a poem called The Harlot. The speaker’s table was strewn with horseshoes, old keys, old shoes, mirrors and cardboard black cats. Before it reposed an open coffin with 13 candles. The occasion was the 13th Anniversary Jinx-Jabbing Jamboree and Dinner of the Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago…[which] meets regularly on Friday the 13th. (There have been 13 Friday the 13th’s in the last eight years.)”