June 20, 2009

John 'Magic Fingers' Houghtaling Dead

Magic Fingers Motel Box
News item: John Houghtaling, inventor of the Magic Fingers system, has passed away at age 92 in Florida. May he rest in peace in a non-vibrating coffin.

If you have spent half as much time in seedy motels and cheap hotels as the old feeder, you are familiar with the Magic Fingers box that was often found in them. Put a quarter in the firmly affixed box's slot and you would be treated to an annoying buzz and a vibrating bed that even a dog wouldn't use.

The only time I was ever suckered into trying one I was suffering from jet lag and thought it might help. The only result was to delay my wretched attempts to sleep for fifteen minutes. Jumping immediately out of the bed, I had to sit in the tiny room chair as I waited out the buzzing. I worried that the mechanism was stuck and would never quit.

Some folks must have liked them, since Mr. Houghtaling was able to retire to Florida. I can't help but think that his success might be due in part to the fact that he was selling the miserable contraptions to motel and hotel management, and not to end users. I'll bet none of the hoteliers that bought them ever used one.

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