Ron Dutton

Mar16 cover

Situated in the rarefied air at 7,500 feet above sea level, Estes Park is perhaps best known as the storied location of The Stanley Hotel, famous for its role in Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. It has a reputation as one of America’s most haunted hotels; many maintain it is still haunted today.

Unless you are a serious investigator of paranormal activities, you’ll want to avoid room 217. Supposedly the most haunted room in the hotel, it’s where Stephen King stayed the night before he started writing The Shining.

Estes Park is also the eastern gateway to the majestic Rocky Mountains, just minutes away. It is in beautiful Estes Park that Ron and Marilyn decided to live. They enjoy watching the herds of elk and other wildlife that roam freely through the town.

Throughout their lovely home – more like an art gallery and museum than a residence – wall space is at a premium, followed closely by shelf space. On all levels, the walls are filled with custom-framed pictures, posters and artwork – almost all originals, mostly magic but some Native American and Southwestern art, and art photos taken by Ron. The shelf space is filled with antiques, shaman sculptures, a collection of Kachina dolls, African Makonde sculptures, and more.

But wait. Let’s go catch up with his early years. 

Eric C. Lewis: Personal Magic

Jf16 coverEric Lewis was a performer, a creator, an author, an artist, and a skilled craftsman. His first book, Well I Never, was published in 1937; his last book, The Genius of Robert Harbin, was published in 1997. In between came the Studies in Mystery series, the Miracle series (A Choice of Miracles, A Continuation of Miracles, The Crowning Miracles, and Martin’s Miracles), and a cornucopia of marketed effects and contributions to magic magazines.

Eric was born in 1908 in Northampton, a city about seventy miles northwest of London. His interest in magic was sparked by a performer in a Wild West Show who did some simple magic tricks along with rope spinning and whip snapping. His first magic book was Simple Tricks and How to Do Them by Will Goldston, part of the Pearson’s “Yellow Peril” series. At the time, these books sold for one or two shillings apiece. Eric saved for weeks to purchase the book; his first act consisted of tricks from the book.

Steven Kline

Dec15 coverSteven Kline is beat. The weariness comes through in his voice. He has just returned from five weeks in China as the lighting designer for a large-scale magic production produced by Juliana Chen and the Tian Jin Circus. Yang Yang, a young man in his early twenties, stars in the show, which features several hundred thousand dollars in illusions, over a half a million dollars in lighting gear, an acrobatic troupe, a ballet troupe, and a juggler. Steven was hired to design all the lighting for the show, get it loaded into the venue, and manage the tech crew for the first five weeks of its run.

“With this show, I hit the ground running,” said Steven. “I flew fourteen-and-a-half hours from Detroit, landed, and waited two hours for my ride. It picked me up and drove me two-and-a-half hours from Beijing to Tianjin, which is the fourth biggest city in China. It took me twenty minutes to check into the hotel. I got up to my room and got a call to meet in the restaurant in twenty minutes. I spent two hours in the restaurant meeting with the production crew and then was up at 8 a.m. to head over to the theater. We worked twenty-five days straight without a break, but it was a wonderful experience. I learned so much about the Chinese culture and I had time to reflect on my life. I learned so much more about myself; I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The plan was for the show to run for three months. Unfortunately, the theater it was booked into had already been booked for November, so the run ended early. This may mean a return trip to China for Steven. “Nobody knows where the show is going. If it relocates, I’ll have to go back. Their lighting guy has no magic experience at all.” That last sentence explains why Steven is in such high demand: he has tremendous experience as a magic performer and as a designer and production manager for corporate events and sports competitions. In recent years, anyone with these credentials has become important to the world of magic conventions.

Harrison Carroll by Christian Painter

Nov15 coverUnless you’re a working professional, you may not have heard of Harrison Carroll. For twenty-four years he learned, practiced, and worked to hone his magic skills. After careful consideration, at the age of thirty-three, he then began his career as a professional magical entertainer. For the next thirty years, he had quietly lived the life most magicians only dream about: traveling the world performing magic. Harrison is an interesting gentleman. I believe you’ll enjoy his story.
Harrison grew up in Buffalo, New York. At the age of ten, he and his buddy Ray Mertz discovered Gene Gordon’s magic shop. It was a wondrous place that fired the imagination of two young boys. Harrison and Ray would save up their allowances and ride the bus to the magic shop together. Since they had limited funds, they would pool their money to buy a trick and then share it. Ray would have it one week; Harrison would have it the next week.

As time passed, Harrison and Ray started going to different schools and lost touch with each other. Through high school and college, Harrison continued to collect magic books and tricks. He was always practicing and working on his sleights. Then, when he was twenty-three, he met up with Ray Mertz once again. Ray convinced Harrison to come to the Forks Hotel, where Eddie Fechter performed.