Past M-U-M Issues
A Visit to Main Street Magic By Norman Beck
When I’m home on a weekend, I drive from Dallas up to McKinney, Texas, to spend my Saturday mornings at Main Street Magic & Fun Company. I just feel a calling. I guess you’d say it’s magic!
Actually, I make the trip for three reasons, and they’re all related. First, I go to see a friend of mine who works in the shop. Second, I go to eat lunch at Hutchins, one of the three best BBQ joints in Texas. (I use the word “joint” with the utmost respect; order the brisket “moist” and tell Dustin I sent you!) The third reason I go is to see the looks on the kids’ faces as they watch magic in the shop. There’s a saying: you might not buy anything, but you have to see magic when you visit Main Street Magic.
The store is located in an old, turn-of-the-nineteenth-century, brick-and-plaster three-story building, located one block north of the old courthouse square. It is one of only fifty-three brick-and-mortar magic stores left in the United States.
According to almost any kid from the area, the magic store anchors what Money Magazine designated as “the number one best place to live in America in 2014.” What in the 1870s was only a sleepy, nondescript, little farming community has become, in the last ten years, a sprawling complex of upscale gated communities in North Texas that on festival days still likes to reconnect with its winsome past. Main Street Magic & Fun Company stands center court in that nostalgic vision. It’s a magical shop in a magical setting.
The old, tree-lined courthouse square is surrounded by great restaurants, art galleries, mom-and-pop stores (like the Mom and Popcorn Company), a couple of cozy little bed-and-breakfast nooks, rare book and antique dealers, dress shops, some high-end law offices in upstairs nineteenth-century digs, and sidewalk performers, old car shows, and street artists every weekend. I know! The love of my life and I came up a couple of weeks ago and ate downtown; they had live music – good music, at that. It reminds me a lot of New Hope, Pennsylvania, or Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
The History of The Society of Young Magicians
Wendell Gibson joined the S.A.M. in 1968 and was an active member in several assemblies throughout the Northeast. In 1975, he reactivated the defunct assembly in Nashua, New Hampshire, now known as the Walter B. Gibson Assembly, named after Wendell’s uncle, the famed magician and author. Wendell served as president of that assembly for five years and secretary for nine years. In the years 1978 and 1979, Wendell served as Regional Vice President of the S.A.M. for the Northeastern States.
Wendell’s real interest was children and magic; he started teaching youth magic classes in 1976 at the Nashua Arts & Science Center in Nashua, New Hampshire, and at several local colleges in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. This endeavor led to the formation of a magic club for young people that met for many years at Wendell’s magic shop, Gibson Magic. This group later became a chapter in the worldwide organization for youth in magic known as Magical Youth International (M.Y.I). In fact, Wendell’s group became M.Y.I. Chapter 1.
Because of these activities, in 1984, the S.A.M. national council appointed Wendell to the position of liaison to the M.Y.I., with the hope of effecting a merger of the two groups. After many discussions, the leadership with M.Y.I. chose not to merge, fearing they would lose their identity. Wendell was asked by the council to form a new young member program for the S.A.M.
Over the past thirty-plus years, many dedicated S.A.M. members have played an important role in the ongoing evolution of the Society of Young Magicians. Some of them have written their perspective of events during the time they served the S.Y.M. – Dan Rodriguez
Life is truly a journey that is enriched by the people and experiences one encounters along the way. I have been blessed by the path God has chosen for my life. He has surrounded me with wonderful friends who have been there through the good times; more important, they have supported me through the challenging periods, making my life “A Magical Experience.”
My interest in magic began early in life while watching the TV show The Magic Land of Alakazam with Mark Wilson, Nani Darnell, and Bev Bergeron, also known as Rebo the Clown. I did not have the time to pursue the art until I was fifty years old. On my fiftieth birthday, my wife, Judy, surprised me with a “magic show” presented by Michael T. Myers as a gentle nudge to help me fulfill my dream of becoming a magician. (Did I mention that Judy also decorates cakes?) Michael T. mentored me over the next year until I was ready to perform. For the next several years I entertained part time until my retirement after thirty-nine years of employment with the Columbia Rubber Corporation in Beltsville, Maryland. At retirement I was able to officially call myself a full-time professional magician.