Grandpa's Magic

By Jim Gerrish
2021, Imagineering Magic. All Rights Reserved.

Mike and Hakeem
Kindergarten Magicians

Chapter One
Kindergarten Magic

My name is Mike Mason. My Grandpa Mason died several years before I was born. Yet from the day of my awareness of myself as a human being, I was under his influence. My first bedroom was right underneath the attic where Grandpa stored all his magic. My mother ignored the existence of Grandpa and never mentioned a word about him to me. It was my father who told me the stories of Grandpa and his adventures and exploits and magic tricks. When other kids asked daddy to tell them a story, I asked daddy to show me one of Grandpa’s magic tricks. And he did. I begged him to keep on showing me more and more, so in order to keep me from keeping him up all night entertaining me with magic, we agreed on three tricks per night. I could request to see three tricks he had shown me before, or I could let him pick some new tricks he hadn’t shown me yet. Eventually he ran out of small magic tricks to perform for me, and we had to take a trip up to the mysterious attic.

The attic smelled old. Not a bad smell, but a mysterious smell. Everything up there was old, before I was born. I felt like an intruder into the past. Dad kept the mystery up by making me sit down in a special little chair designed for tiny butts, like mine was at the time. Then Dad would open up one of the mysterious trunks and draw out some mysterious prop or contraption and show me miracles with it.

The ones I loved were the magic tricks where I got to participate as Dad showed them to me. I remember one of the first was a rectangular tube into which he put his arm, and then he gave me a wicked looking metal blade and had me shove the blade into the box watching with wonder the blade going completely through the box without so much as a whimper from Dad. Then I had to push a second blade through the box. Next he would show me why it didn’t hurt when he unlatched one side of the tube and let me look through it. He unlatched the other side and the two tubes came apart. His arm had vanished inside the tube. I could see it was still attached to his shoulder, his real hand with wiggling fingers came out the other end of the tube, but in-between was nothing at all.

Then Dad called Mom, who was dusting something or other up in the attic, and asked her to take the tube that had his wiggling fingers in it and bring it to me so I could see that his fingers were real. She acted like it was a big bother, and there was nothing strange about his arm being cut into two pieces, but she did as he asked and his wiggling fingers grabbed me and tried to pull me into the tube, but I backed away just in time.

Mom said to Dad, “Put your arm back together. It’s almost dinner time and I don’t want you dropping things all over because your hand won’t stay on the end of your arm.” Then she went downstairs and I helped attach the two tubes together again and pulled out the two big blades. Slowly Dad pulled his arm with the fingers still attached out of the combined tubes and said, “Now don’t do anything bad that I need to spank you for. I don’t want my hand falling off in the middle of a good spanking.”

He said it with a big smile on his face so I knew he was joking. But I was impressed. All through dinner, all through getting ready for bed, and for hours after lights out, I thought about that trick. Suddenly it came to me. I knew how it was done. I got out of bed and went to my little work table. I found some pieces of cardboard cut from old boxes I had been saving for making stuff with. I built that trick out of cardboard. The two wooden tubes, the two blades, all made from cardboard and colored with crayons. Then I went to bed and fell asleep right away, convinced I had solved the mystery… except for one thing. Mom had brought me the tube containing Dad’s wiggling live fingers in it and I had felt his fingers alive and moving before she brought it back and made him reconnect his fingers to his arm.

I woke up the next morning with that puzzle still on my mind. I went down to breakfast and was silent for a change. Usually I had a lot to say in the morning, but not this particular morning. Finally I burst out with my question. “Mom, did you ever work with Grandpa in his magic act?”

She looked at Dad, he looked at her and then she answered reluctantly, “Once or twice. Everybody worked with Grandpa on that darn magic act of his. I’m glad those days are over.”

“Do your fingernails come off?” I asked.

Dad burst out with an explosive laugh. “Busted!” he exclaimed. “I knew the boy was smart!”

“Hush up,” said Mom. “The whole neighborhood will hear you.”

She held out her right hand to me and said, “My fake fingernails are glued on. Otherwise I would be losing them every time I cooked and you’d find them in your cereal or in your dinner. Now stop asking foolish questions and finish your breakfast.”

“Can I see your other hand?” I asked. Dad was suddenly filled with the snorting giggles again.

“Here’s my other hand,” she said, and held it up in the air, but I couldn’t see her fingernails from that side of her left hand. I grabbed her left hand and her left thumb nail slid off into my hand.

“Now look what you’ve done! You’ve broken off my thumbnail and I’ll have to glue it on again,” she said, angrily.

“She’s good,” I said, admiringly.

“She’s the best,” said Dad. “You’re the first person to realize it. She made Grandpa’s magic act into real magic for a lot of people. They would bicker back and forth all the time so no one would ever believe she was actually helping him secretly.”

“I’m telling Grandpa on you,” she said to Dad. “When I pray for him tonight, I’m going to tell him that you revealed his biggest secret to his grandchild at the breakfast table.”

“Mike figured it out for himself,” said Dad. “Go get that cardboard box thing you worked on all last night instead of going to bed,” he told me.

I brought the cardboard tubes into the kitchen and put them on the table. “The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how you were able to bring the tube with Dad’s wiggling fingers in it over to me and let me touch them and feel that they were real. Those had to be your fingers, mom. You ditched your fake nails somehow, and without the phony fingernails, your hand looks just like Dad’s.”

“Now I have to tell Grandpa you gave away a magic secret we have been keeping for years,” said Mom, but she put her left hand, minus all the fake fingernails, around my neck and hugged me and kissed the top of my head.

“How fast can you put them back on?” I asked.

She put her left hand into her apron pocket and brought it back out right away with all of her fake fingernails on. “I practiced that for days on end until I could do it well enough to satisfy Grandpa to put it into the act,” she said. “It was my idea.”

I remember the incident because it was the very next day that I started Kindergarten. I was five years old now and that was the law. I wanted to stay at home and work on learning more of Grandpa’s magic, but Dad personally escorted me to the school and stayed with me until I knew where the bathroom was, where the nurse could be found, met with the principal, and finally met with my kindergarten teacher. The last thing he said to me before he left for home was, “Don’t tell anyone you’re a magician.”

That was his big mistake. I promised to not tell anyone I was a magician, but that didn’t stop me from performing magic tricks for my five-year-old classmates, and they figured out for themselves that I must be a magician. I just did simple things, like making pennies appear and disappear and turn into dimes. One boy was fascinated by this and followed me everywhere. It was from him that I learned not to perform the same trick twice in a row to the same person. After he had watched me vanish the penny for three or four times to different classmates, he came up to me and asked to examine the magic penny. Then when he handed it back again, it just disappeared from his hand, the same way I had been making it happen over and over again. He winked at me and made it drop out of my nose, the same way I was doing it for the other kids.

“Hi,” he said. “My name is Hakeem Brown. I like your magic.”

“Thanks, Hakeem. My name is Mike Mason. You did that coin vanish perfectly. How long have you been a magician?” I asked.

Hakeem & Mike

“About one minute,” he laughed. “That was my first magic trick. How long did it take you to learn all that stuff you do?”

“I’ve been at it since I was three years old,” I admitted. “I should have known better than to let you watch me perform it over and over again.”

“I’m glad you did,” said Hakeem. “Will you teach me any more magic tricks? I’d like to be a magician someday, too.”

“I’ll have to ask my father,” I told him. “He warned me not to tell anyone I was a magician.”

“Where do you live,” he asked. I told him and he said, “That’s one block over from my house. Can we walk home together so you can ask him?”

“OK,” I said. “We’d better get back to this damn kindergarten stuff we’re learning today… how to spell the names of the colors using our damn crayons that break and crumble all the time.”

He laughed at that and I knew I had made my first friend at kindergarten. We grumbled like that at our kindergarten “lessons” and laughed a lot together, but we always finished first and had plenty of time to help others who weren’t as fast as we were.

At the end of the day, we walked home together. My house was closer, but I promised to walk him to his house afterwards so I would know where it was and meet his family so they would know who I was.

Dad was surprised at my request to teach Hakeem magic, but I had Hakeem show him the vanishing penny and the nose drop ending, and he was impressed. He told Hakeem the three rules of magic : Rule 1 – Never tell a secret, Rule 2 – Never perform a trick twice in a row for the same person, and Rule 3 – practice, practice, practice. Never show a trick until you can perform it perfectly, otherwise you are breaking Rule 1.

“What rule did Mike forget?” he asked Hakeem.

“The second rule, but he didn’t know I was watching him all those times he was performing for other kids,” said Hakeem.

“Do you think you both learned a lesson from that?” asked Dad.

“Yes,” we both said, and we shook hands on it.

“Then go ahead and be friends first, and learn magic second, but always be true to your friends,” said Dad. “Friends are more important than magic.”

“I’m going to walk Hakeem home and meet his parents,” I said. “I’ll teach him another trick or two on the way.”

“Just don’t forget to come back home in time for supper,” said Dad. “Give his folks our phone number so they can call me if they want to checkup on things. It’s a parent’s trick to keep ahead of you kids.”

“Here’s my phone number, Mr. Mason,” said Hakeem, handing Dad a piece of paper with his name and number on it.

“If you guys are going to be magicians, you’ll need some business cards. We’ll work on that on the computer tonight. Do you have a computer, Hakeem?” asked Dad.

“Yes,” said Hakeem. “I wrote my e-mail address on the back of that paper I gave you.”

“OK, then the two of you can use your computers to work together on-line to design business cards, if your parents say it’s OK, Hakeem. I can see you two are going to be best friends already.”

On the way to his house, I showed Hakeem three ways to make coins disappear, and one way to pluck coins out of the air or from under someone’s chin or from behind their ears, etc. By the time we arrived, he had mastered the moves, but he took Dad’s third Rule of Magic to heart and decided to practice all night on those coin sleight of hand moves before showing them to anyone except me.

I met Mr. and Mrs. Brown and I performed some magic with a deck of cards to show them I was a magician. I handed each of them the deck and told them to peek at one card, then pass the deck to the other person who was to also peek at a card. Then I shuffled the deck of cards and spread it out face-up on a table and told them to point to the card each had peeked at. They couldn’t. The cards they peeked at weren’t in the deck. I asked them to name the cards, and they surprised each other because they had both peeked at the same card, the 3 of hearts. I told them they couldn’t have peeked at the 3 of hearts because it wasn’t even in the deck. Then the 3 of hearts came rising up out of my shirt pocket to show them it had been there all along. I guess they were impressed, but I know Hakeem was impressed because he made me promise that tomorrow we would work on card magic because he wanted to learn how to do that trick.

The Browns agreed to let Hakeem and me communicate by computer tonight until 9:00 PM bedtime, designing our magic business cards. He had a printer and so did I, so we could each print out a sheet of about 12 cards that we could cut out by hand and be ready to give away at Kindergarten tomorrow.

Mr. Brown walked me back home because it was getting dark, and he stayed to shake hands with my father and talk about their kids doing magic and making business cards together. Both thought it was a great idea. I overheard some of their discussion and it seems that Hakeem had fussed and fumed at having to go to Kindergarten yesterday morning, and here he was, completely changed from having met me and now was looking forward to going to Kindergarten tomorrow. They both agreed that our meeting was good for the two of us, because I had no friends before I met Hakeem, and now I had a friend and a student of magic all in one.

That night, on the computer I showed Hakeem some typical magician’s business cards off the Web, and how they were simple and to the point. But what we added was a different playing card image on the back of each business card so we could use the cards to do a magic trick. I reminded Hakeem to bring a deck of playing cards in his pocket so we could work on card tricks, and tomorrow I would show him how to use the different playing cards printed on the backs of his business cards to do a magic trick that would knock their socks off.

When Mom came in to kiss me goodnight, she asked me if I had shown Hakeem my cardboard cutting off the arm trick yet. I told her no, and she reached behind her back and brought out Grandpa’s wooden version of the trick that she and Dad had fooled me with, and said they agreed I should have it for my first magic show, and that it should be performed by Hakeem and not me.

I was a little annoyed at that, until she told me the reason why; it was because Hakeem had brown colored skin and I had pinkish/white colored skin. Then she told me to think about why Hakeem should do the trick and not me, and I rolled over, a little insulted and a little angry, and thought about it. At about midnight, I yelled down the hallway to Mom, “I got it, Mom! You’re right!” Then I fell asleep with a smile on my face, thinking about how Hakeem would greet the news that he was to perform my Grandpa’s arm illusion in our first magic show, and perhaps in many others afterwards. Then I began dreaming about which of Grandpa’s tricks Mom and Dad would let me perform.

The next day, I woke up early and got on-line to Hakeem’s computer to let him know I was ready to go to school and I had all my business cards cut out and ready. They looked something like this, but with my real address.

Front -----------------------------------------------------Back

Each card has a different playing card printed on the back, and Hakeem had playing cards that were different from mine so the same card never showed up twice even when we were performing the trick at different times to different people. We picked our target people very carefully so that no one got to see the trick done twice, whether it was performed by me or by Hakeem.

The trick went like this. I would ask someone if he or she wanted to see a magic trick (they always did!). I showed them the front of my business card and put it on the table. I told them to put some money on top of the card, as much as they wanted to bet, but at least a penny. They could add more to their bet later. Then I brought out my deck of playing cards and had them shuffle the cards, or because they were kindergarten kids, they could just mix them around any old which way. Then the person pulled out one playing card and kept his or her finger on it the whole time. I asked him to bet that I knew what card he would pick even before he picked it. Would he be willing to bet that I couldn’t possibly know what card he would pick before he picked it? If he wanted to bet the penny, he would win a penny if I was wrong. But if he wanted to bet more than the penny, he could add more coins on top of my business card to raise his bet and I put down coins on the table that he would win from me if I was wrong. Then when he was ready to stop betting, he turned his playing card over and showed me what he had chosen. I pretended to look all defeated as if he had won, but before he could collect the money from me, I asked him to turn over the business card. Let’s say the playing card he had chosen was the Queen of Hearts, in which case he would see the Queen of Hearts printed on the back of my business card, proving that I won the bet.

I showed the trick to kids in the cafeteria before school started so there were a lot of kids from all the different grades and soon I had a crowd of kids wanting to be next to bet, but to avoid breaking the second rule of magic, I did something completely different. Only when I was sure that the person hadn’t seen me perform my business card trick did I do it again. Hakeem watched me and by the time the bell rang to go to class he said, “That’s a helluva great trick! I haven’t any idea how to do what you just did. Plus all those other tricks that were sort of like it, but not using the business card. I don’t know how I can learn all those!”

“They are all the same trick, done different ways so the audience doesn’t think they are the same,” I told him. “I didn’t break Rule 2. They all thought they were watching something completely different.”

“So did I,” he said. “I have a lot to learn!”

What? Still reading? Then you may want to continue the book to find out how it ends, or to learn how the Kindergarten Magicians put on their first big stage show for the whole school. Jim Gerrish

Chapter 1 – Kindergarten Magic
Chapter 2 – Magic Mike & Hakeem
Chapter 3 – Magic Pets
Chapter 4 – Summer "Playgrounds"

Grandpa's Magic Complete Book One - Four Chapters

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2021, Imagineering Magic. All Rights Reserved.