Oral history interview with Eddie, 1980


Eddie (Interviewee)
Courtwright, David T., 1952- (Interviewer)
Joseph, Herman, 1931- (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Eddie, 1980
Other Titles
Reminiscences of Eddie, 1980; Oral history of Eddie, 1980
In this interview, Eddie discusses his life in New York City with special attention towards his drug use. He discusses in detail his father's heroin addiction, and how he developed connections with many Italian drug dealers living in Harlem while procuring heroin for his father. He compares the price of heroin between the 1930s, 1940s, and 1960s. He discusses the Italian mafia's control of the drug trade in New York City in the mid twentieth century. He describes how he became addicted to heroin through repeated, accidental exposure, while he was cutting or mixing kilograms of the drug. He describes his various jobs such as driving a delivery truck for a grocery store, and driving a cab. He describes how heroin began to increase in price and decrease in quality in the 1940s. He discusses how the Italian mafia lost control of the drug trade in the 1960s, and the heroin became scarce, which cost him his connections and forced him to get a prescription for Dilaudid. He describes his experience of withdrawal symptoms like aches, nervousness, and perspiration
Collection Name
Addicts Who Survived oral history collection
Drug addicts--United States; Drug dealers--United States; Drug traffic--History--20th century.--United States; Drug abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Heroin abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Drug addicts--Rehabilitation--United States; Drugs--Prescribing; Mafia
oral histories
Physical Description
61 pages
Note (Biographical)
Eddie was born on April 3, 1911 in the Bronx, New York. He was the younger of two brothers. Eddie attended school at P.S. 45 in the Bronx through the eighth grade, then began to work with his father in the fruit business. During the Great Depression, his family struggled financially and lost their house. In the 1930s, Eddie would often buy heroin for his father, who was an addict. He got married in 1937. In the 1950s, Eddie started his own business of trucking for a grocery store. Eddie began working in the drug trade in 1955, and became addicted to heroin through accidental exposure in the cutting process. He went to a hospital in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in order to detox from heroin, but continued using after his ten day visit. After he became addicted, he quit drug trafficking and started working as a cab driver. In the 1960s when heroin became scarce, Eddie acquired Dilaudid prescription from a doctor. He joined the Bronx State methadone program in 1972. Eddie was interviewed for the project that led to the book Addicts Who Survived. The name is likely a pseudonym for the project
Interviewed by David Courtwright and Herman Joseph on August 19, 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.