Chicago 1922, and Henry Johnson was having a bad morning. He had been found unconscious on the streets and was taken into hospital for treatment. While examining him, the doctors discovered something shocking- his testicles had been removed very recently. Where his man plums should have been swingly freely, there was just a clean and fresh wound, very neatly stitched up.
Johnson could remember little of the night before, other than the fact that he had been out drinking. This looked like it would be just a thoroughly odd but unique event for a while, but four months later another freshly-castrated victim was found passed out on the Chicago streets. The next year there were two more similar cases, and a panic struck the city.
The police set out searching for the renegade surgeon who was merrily harvesting unwary knackers. It was believed that the pilfered nuts were being used in an illegal form of "gland transplanting"- a business that made a number of sugeons very rich around the turn of the 19th/20th century.
Gland transplanting was an attempt to regain youthful, spunky vigour. It was born in the 1880s when French physiologist Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard mashed up a hellish gloop made from semen, dog testicles and guinea pig testicles. And then injected himself with it, the lunatic. Not only did he somehow survive, but he claimed to have experienced youthful vigour for the next few days.
As you would expect, injecting a spooge-and-animal-bollocks puree into your veins is not without its side-effects, so it never really caught on as a popular cure. However it got other doctors thinking about refining the process, which is where "Gland transplanting" was born,. It was thoroughly championed by the trail-blazing Dr Serge Voronoff.
Voronoff's approach was to slice out sections of testicle from a donor, and then surgically graft these onto the testicles of his patient. The primary aim was to restore youth and vigour, but if it also had the side-effect of bestowing erections that could carve glass I'm sure the patients wouldn't have complained at all, even if the polite society of 1910 America would never have mentioned anything so beastly. He started out using the love spuds of executed criminals, but these were in short supply. So he moved on to using the testicles of animals traditionally associated with lustful behaviour- monkeys and goats. In the 1920s Voronoff became seriously rich from stitching severed monkey bollock-matter to the undercarriage of his wealthy clientele. Even the great poet W B Yeats had the operation, in a bid to revive his flagging libido. However goat and money nuts were still seen as a bit of a budget option.
So with big money up for grabs, and a demand for human danglies established, it was only a matter of time before some unscrupulous surgeon started setting up a trade in stolen goolies. And that's exactly what struck Chicago in 1922-23, leaving the good gentleman of the city terrified of drinking in public for fear of awakening less encumbered in the groinal region. Had kevlar knickers been available at the time, I'm sure they'd have done a roaring trade in Chicago.
Showing their usual skill for investigating serious crimes, the Chicago police completely failed to identify who the Testicle Thief was, and the trend in sudden eunuch-hood could have exploded across the country. However at about the same time, recipients of Gland Transplants had started complaining of a complete failure to restore youth and reliable erections, combined with some pretty nasty side-effects of tissue rejection in the scrote. Demand for the controversial treatment collapsed, the world saw sense, and the predicted explosion of Bollock Bandits across the world never occurred.
So, when you gentlemen retire to your beds tonight, reassure those plums that they are quite safe and give praise for the advance of medical science.