While in Nebraska on the prehistoric Ponca archeological excavation, I heard of a traveling circus setting up in Omaha. That Saturday I took the expedition’s Model T Ford and drove to see it. I did not want to spend seventyfive cents to see the performance so I walked the grounds looking at the displays of the various game booths and side shows. One side show was a magician act and I paid twenty cents to see it. The old performer did not have much equipment, but I was engrossed with his magic. He did a card trick that astounded me. That magic show left me with a burning zeal to duplicate the card trick and evenings I would try to reconstruct the magic I had witnessed. My rendition was not the same but I developed an effect that I use to this day. That led me unexpectedly into the world of great magic and magicians.
In 1956, at my neighbor’s sons Bar Mitzvah party, I was seated at a table and one of the guests at our table, Dr. David Lederman, entertained us with closeup magic. I described a card trick I had seen and to my amazement he duplicated it. It was as the old magician had done whereas my version was different. Sheepishly, I did my trick. Dave said he knew almost all that was known in magic but he never saw my trick. My misinterpretation of a card trick caused me to develop a unique trick. That was the start of my journey into a half century of magical associations. By coincidence, it was an opportune time to get involved in the Society of American Magicians at a high level.
Dave had worked his way through college subsidizing his tuition by doing magic and was the secretary of the Parent Assembly of the Society of American Magicians. He taught me a few tricks so I could pass the exam of the membership committee and be accepted as a member of America’s prestigious Parent Assembly #1 of S.A.M. It was a time when the art director of MUM, the magazine of the society, was resigning because he was at odds with the editor, Sam Aaronson. Dave had asked me to bring along some of my art and show it to the editor, who was also on the membership committee. I became a member with my exhibition of prestidigitation, including my own card trick, and also was asked to be the art editor of MUM. That post I held for seven years and also became a member of the National Council of the Society of American Magicians.
During my active involvement with magic I met the great magicians and learned a great deal about all aspects of magic. Magicians would send in tricks to be accepted and printed in the monthly magazine, and I would read their scripts and illustrate their tricks. It was time consuming but pleasurable work. I involved my children and at the annual magic show held at Judson Hall, magicians performed with family members. I was proud and elated when we won first place. My oldest son, Bruce, became a member at seventeen and eventually formed his own assembly of SAM in Suffolk. Kenneth and Lance, Jr. became members of IMP, International Magic Performers, that Arnold Belais started for children of magicians.
I traveled to New York City twice a month for meetings, and occasionally I had time to go to the Dixie Hotel to sit at the table set aside for magicians and traveling magic performers. At the SAM meetings and at the Dixie Table, I met great magicians: Dai Vernon, Cliff Green, Kuda Bucs, Blackstone, Melborne Christopher, Maximillian Londono, and others in the limelight of magic. Dave Lederman, Randi and Cardini wanted to have access to magic on Long Island and were among the founders of the branch of SAM called the Long Island Mystics. I also joined the Long Island Mystics.
While with the Parent Assembly, I was invited to join the American Society for Psychical Research. Felix Greenfield, Randi and Dick Dubois (the Magic Clown of TV) were also magician members. We studied and examined psychic phenomena claims to expose any use of magic or misdirection to fool the public. It was an interesting adjunct to my magic involvement which still interests me.
Because of business pressure I resigned as art editor and Ed Michel, the former editor was happy to get his old post back as art editor. I know that I was a better magician and art editor than Ed Michel. I had to give up closeup magic because of a hand injury which limited the use of my essential thumb. Many years later I met a novice, Ira Joss, who had an interest in magic. We became friends and I worked with Ira and gave him some of my paraphernalia and magic books. He became the secretary of the Long Island Mystics. He, and his wife, Carol, became adept professional performers.