During the period Dec 1981- May 1982 I worked as a counsellor (guard) at a juvenile detention centre (Ref: Blog Post Dec 23, 2016 – The Tinsel’s Silver Glow). It was a six month, casual position after which I spent the summer with the naval reserve then returned to university to undertake my BEd.

A while back I was chatting with a fellow who was much younger than me (he probably still is). During the conversation he mentioned that he had spent time in the same institution. We exchanged a few stories during which he made reference to banaco.

Banaco? What’s that?”, I asked.

Oh, that’s banana tobacco.”

Banana tobacco?”

He then explained that while incarcerated they would hide their banana peels and let them dry out. Once dry, they would roll strips of the banana in a page they ripped out of the Bible.

Out of the Bible?”, I asked.

Yeah. I have nothing against the Bible but it was closest thing we had to cigarette paper.”

Before I could ask, he told me how they would light their cigarettes: “We would take a 9-volt battery and hold a paperclip across the two terminals. We would light it off the resulting sparks.”

Dried banana peels and pages from the Bible – I guess it gives a new definition for Holy Smokes.

Follow for stories every Friday


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