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.”
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.
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