Quad Cities Magic Club
The following are
Magic in the Quad Cities; The First Two Decades in
the Life of the
By Chuck Hanson
Ring #11 received its charter in late Spring, 1940. Also in 1940 the (IBM) convention was held in Davenport, Iowa. At that time there were a number of prominent magicians living within a 200 mile radius of the Quad Cities. Including but not limited to:
In June of 1940 the IBM convention was put on in Davenport Iowa. Performing were many fine acts of the day. Al Baker, Al Saal, Dell O'Dell, Eugene Laurent, Paul LePaul, Ed Reno, Dorny, Bill Baird, Doc Mahendra, Tony Kardyro, and Clem Magrum.
In the 1940's, during WWII, Jim Farney decided the club should host a midwest magic picnic. It was held on a Sunday in July and magicians and magic enthusiasts from all over Iowa, Illinois, and southern Wisconsin showed up. There was an impromptu show in the afternoon, an auction, one or two dealers, and a full show in the evening. No admission was charged for the show and the performers donated their time and talent. Over the years many big names participated, including Harry Blackstone Sr. and Paul LePaul.
Del Kiefer started his long association with Ring #11 during the early 1940's. He and Bob Carver, of Davenport, developed a very humorous two person magic act with Bob as the straight man magician and Del as the "volunteer" from the audience who unknowingly made the magic happen. The act was so good that the two were invited to spend a summer touring Iowa with a regional circus. After graduating from high school, bob moved away and Del became a paratrooper. He dropped out of magic for a few years and then came back full force in the the mid 1950's, and has been a major presence on the local scene ever since; as DelMar, Norman the Clown, and for 27 years as Ronald McDonald. Del is still a active member and is know for his knowledge of magic, his sharing of that knowledge, and for being a genuinely nice human being.
Before magic lectures became popular, Ring #11 brought Ed Marlo to Davenport for a teaching session. We met in the Dempsey Hotel for a full day and learned a lot form this young card guy from Chicago.
I also recall Tarbell being at a Ring meeting to give a lecture. Probably, it was in 1943 - 1947 period. The first volumes of his course had just appeared in hardback, so he was very popular at the time.
We used to have an annual banquet with a program following the dinner. Many were held in the Sky High Room, the banquet facility on the top floor of the Moline LeClaire Hotel. There was always a good attendance even thought it was not open to the public. Magicians from Peoria, Dubuque, Iowa City, Freeport, and the Chicago area made it a gala affair; many offering their acts for the evening Show.
The Ring was quite active throughout the decade of the 1950's. We had about 15 or so members most of the time. A few like Earl Schnoor, Wayne Rohlf, Ed Freeman, Del Kiefer, Dick Impens, Wilber Wiberg, and Clem Magrum (when he was in town) were involved solidly during their entire lives.
Regular monthly meeting were similar to the ones being held currently. There always seemed to be some business to talk about, followed by comments that we spent too much time talking about business stuff. Sound familiar? Teaching sessions complete with instructions were also a part of many meetings.
We often talked about putting on club shows. However, I can't remember whether, or not many show resulted. Certainly nowhere close to the activity today.
Every meeting featured the performance of magic by the members, much as is done now.
You might ask, "Was that period better magically than what we have now?" I don't think so. Today, our Ring has many more members. We do more shows as a club. We have lecturers come to meeting. There is good leadership ... people are willing to do things when asked. And some some of the special events that the Ring did in the first two decades were successful because nobody else nearby was doing them. Now, everybody seem to have a mini-convention or a major lectured. It's a different time with different conditions.
Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun being involved in the local magic scene during the 1940 -1960 years.