Magic Castle Revisited. Part Four.

Are you ready to visit the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Magic Castle?

The third floor of the Castle contained the executive offices for the club and also, more importantly, its fine little library. The green baize table located in the center of the library was considerately placed there for magicians to baffle each other with their latest miracles. However, as every magician knew, the table’s real role was to house the never-ending hearts game between Vernon, Kuda Bux, Joe (The King of Cards) Cossari, and Joe Berg. The banter and bickering between these dear friends was always a delight to listen to. Many a young performer was happy to linger at the bookshelves pretending to study a complex book by Ed Marlo while actually eavesdropping on the Hearts game; trying to remember tidbits to casually impress their friends with at a later time. It was widely believed that any of players were free to cheat during the game, but faced extreme social disgrace from their contemporaries if caught doing so.

Coming down the little staircase from the third floor library, if you made a sharp right turn you arrived in the dining room at the Castle. During the ‘70s the Magic Castle didn’t feature quite the haute cuisine dining that has recently blossomed in our clubhouse, but even in those far away days it was a pretty impressive experience. The highlight of the menu was the delicious prime rib, or if you weren’t hungry enough for such hearty fare, you could dine scrumptiously on the Festal Board and the Castle’s award winning chili. A very significant part of each performer’s remuneration in those early days was receiving your dinner on the nights you officially entertained in the club. I would happily feast at the Festal Board and then return home with my prime rib (end cut) in a Bunny Bag; my wife Susan and I would share it for breakfast the next morning. Friday luncheon featured another special dining delight, when the kitchen would serve up all the delicious beef ribs that had accumulated during the week.

There were two other great reasons to visit the dining room at the Castle. The first was that whenever passing through the dining room I was able to enjoy a brief visit with Sandy Spillman, the resident host of the adjacent Houdini séance room. If there was a finer and kinder gentleman than Sandy in the magic world I am yet to meet him. As knowledgeable as he was modest, Sandy was a true prince of a human being.

This picture is the Spillman family in magic mode.  The young man in the box eventually turned into the mega-talented performer and writer Steve Spill.

We will continue our virtual tour of the ’70s era Magic Castle in the next post.


~ by Nick Lewin on June 15, 2017.

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