Oral history interview with Binny, 1980


Binny (Interviewee)
Courtwright, David T., 1952- (Interviewer)
Joseph, Herman, 1931- (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Binny, 1980
Other Titles
Reminiscences of Binny, 1980; Oral history of Binny, 1980
Binny begins the interview recalling his youth in Hong Kong with his mother, father, and brother. Together they worked at the family cigarette store until Binny decided to go abroad as a seaman. Binny describes working on a Standard Oil ship, including the opium use by many of the Chinese seamen and his own introduction to the drug. Binny discusses the difficulties of immigrating to the United Stat es; he arrived in New York City at the age of twenty-five. He compares the shift in lifestyle from a seaman to a restaurant worker in New York City, and describes the long hours at restaurants. Binny describes opium use in the U.S., including a Newark, NJ smokehouse (opium den), separate spaces of Chinese and white smokers, and the disappearance of opium from New York City, which pushed him to heroin. Binny explains how he managed to survive using heroin for many years, including maintenance of needles. He describes users detoxing while in jail. He also describes how he did not observe women using opium during his time and concludes by addressing his switch to methadone use
Collection Name
Addicts Who Survived oral history collection
Drug addicts--United States; Opium abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Heroin abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Chinese Americans; Binny
oral histories
Physical Description
95 pages
Note (Biographical)
Binny was born in Hong Kong on August 5th, around the year 1899. Binny attended school for five years before leaving to work in his father's cigarette store. At the age of twenty-one, Binny left home to become a seaman, and he worked on multiple ships in the following years. It was as a seaman that Binny was introduced to opium and began smoking regularly. At the age of twenty-five, he immigrated to the United States and began working in restaurants in New York City. Binny started methadone maintenance by the 1970s. Binny was interviewed for the project that led to the book Addicts Who Survived. The name is likely a pseudonym for the project. In the book, Binny was referred to by the pseudonym "Lao Pai-hsing"
Interviewed by David Courtwright and Herman Joseph on June 5, 1980
Note (Provenance)
David Courtwright, Herman Joseph, and Don Des Jarlais, Gift, 1988
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
Browse Location’s Digital Content
Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Time-Based Media
Time-Based Media
Persistent URL
Related URLs
Available digital content for this interview.