It is wonderful time to remember how important fathers are in the development of their children generally and specifically for us.
Had it not been for our dad, we likely would never have found our life-long love of magic. It was, after all, our pop who bought us The Ball and Vase from a magic store in our hometown of Oak Park, Illinois. He taught us how to perform the miracle and encouraged us to bring it to kindergarten the next morning to show others.
He delighted in hearing about the crowd of fellow students who came to see the miracle and did not seem surprised to hear that the teacher took the trick from us.
Our dad was and is special. He instilled in our little brain the notion that we can be exceptional and successful with practice and hard work in all things, magic included.
When our parents were going through a divorce, we were called upon to care for our siblings during the summer months while the adults were at work. Dad promised that our pay for the three months of work would be rewarded by a trip to the Paul Diamond Magic and Fun Wagon at the Palm Beach Mall. We thought about our booty all summer as we guided our brother and sisters through their days of camp and play and housecleaning.
On Labor Day weekend in 1972, our work was rewarded with a trip to the magic shop. Our father waited patiently as we considered all of the offerings and quizzed the manager, Barry Gibbs, on what we should get. Finally, with Mr. Gibbs’ direction, we decided on a magic book rather than a single trick. That book changed the course of our life. The Expert at the Card Table by the mysterious S.W. Erdnase cost $3.50 and soon became our source of inspiration and frustration as we tried to master the moves described and illustrated.
Dad selected thousands of cards for us, bought us our first Show Suit, took pride in our winning the state close-up championship, drove us to shows, television studios, magic stores and magic club meetings. He never once thought our love of magic was a “hobby” and always encouraged us to practice and perform as if we were a true professional – although our voice had not yet changed.
He was and is a great critic. We recall one afternoon in Chicago – many years later – when he sat through our stab at impromptu stand-up. He listened carefully and helped us tune the jokes for a comedy career that never happened but was fun in the planning.
It must be a tough decision to allow your eldest child to travel to far away conventions alone or with his teenage friends to spend long hours “hanging out” with strangers in hotels. But our dad trusted us and the instincts he hoped we had developed. And when we failed to live up to those standards for behavior, he counseled us and forgave us. He provided a powerful lesson in that response.
We are blessed to have him with us still. As is required of all parents from the Midwest, he has been relocated to the Gulf Coast of Florida. We are pretty sure that is a law. He remains our counselor, supporter and confessor. His love was never absent or in doubt.
Father’s Day is nigh and so is our father, always.