Sandy Dykes on Magic

Editor's Note: A while back — it was just after the war and industry was gearing back up for the biggest boom in the economy since the steam powered telephone and the drinkable cotton gin — I wrote an entry talking about how I learned magic at the Magic Fun Wagon in the old Palm Beach Mall; located, ironically, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Barry Gibbs and Sandy Dykes taught me everything I knew about magic. They put me to work as a demonstrator and an invisible dog walker. When I wasn't doing "cups and balls" or "nickels to dimes," I was walking around the shop with my "invisible dog leash" trying to drum up business for the shop.

Sandy and Barry were my heroes. They seem to know every sleight, they had witty come-backs, could both do second deals with either hand or with just one hand. They had style and the love for magic that I think we all share.

After I published that article, I hooked up with Sandy again by email. He had written a short piece about those days and has been kind enough to let me include it here.

I can't tell you what a rush it was the first time I got to step inside the Wagon and was assigned the task of learning the tricks we would demonstrate. The door you see in the foreground of the picture is the entrance into that world.

The Wagon didn't last forever but for two years, it was there and I worked every weekend with Sandy, Barry and my best friend and future magic partner, Richard Ellis and Basil Nestor. (Basil was the only young demonstrator paid in cash. Rich and I were paid in credit towards magic tricks. He was also the only demonstrator allowed to use the cash register. He ranked higher than us but lower than Sandy and Barry).

Sandy is working on another story for insidemagic.com about our attempts to produce Santa as part of the Mall's Christmas promotion. I can't wait to bring that to you.

So with that as prologue, here is Sandy's masterpiece. For a 12 year-old aspiring magician, it was magic just to approach the Magic Fun Wagon.

From a distance the mirrors that are mounted behind the brightly colored wagon wheels truly give the appearance of a real circus wagon plopped down in the middle of the mall.

The windows are filled with all sorts of amazing and strange things that draw you closer. As you follow with your eyes the magic tricks and gags, and exploding this and smoking that you come upon what looks like a small stage on the side of the wagon.

More wonders greet you from within, Halloween masks hang from the ceiling, hooks overflowing with colorful party favors and crepe paper decorations. Lower down there are row upon row of crypticly marked boxes,“dissolving half dollar”, “thumb tips”, and “breakaway wand”, adding even more mystery.

A voice breaks your concentration asking “what can I show you today?” and as you turn you see a smiling face and busy hands. It’s the hands that you are drawn to as they manipulate a deck of cards,fingers moving in concert with each card as if they were one.

“Would you like to see a trick?” the voice asks; again breaking your mesmerized stare.

“Sure” you reply and as you watch, never taking your eyes away, those hands seem to make all the markings vanish from the deck of cards.

As he fans the deck of cards out in front of you,…

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Editor's Note: A while back — it was just after the war and industry was gearing back up for the biggest boom in the economy since the steam powered telephone and the drinkable cotton gin — I wrote an entry talking about how I learned magic at the Magic Fun Wagon in the old Palm Beach Mall; located, ironically, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Barry Gibbs and Sandy Dykes taught me everything I knew about magic. They put me to work as a demonstrator and an invisible dog walker. When I wasn't doing "cups and balls" or "nickels to dimes," I was walking around the shop with my "invisible dog leash" trying to drum up business for the shop.

Sandy and Barry were my heroes. They seem to know every sleight, they had witty come-backs, could both do second deals with either hand or with just one hand. They had style and the love for magic that I think we all share.

After I published that article, I hooked up with Sandy again by email. He had written a short piece about those days and has been kind enough to let me include it here.

I can't tell you what a rush it was the first time I got to step inside the Wagon and was assigned the task of learning the tricks we would demonstrate. The door you see in the foreground of the picture is the entrance into that world.

The Wagon didn't last forever but for two years, it was there and I worked every weekend with Sandy, Barry and my best friend and future magic partner, Richard Ellis and Basil Nestor. (Basil was the only young demonstrator paid in cash. Rich and I were paid in credit towards magic tricks. He was also the only demonstrator allowed to use the cash register. He ranked higher than us but lower than Sandy and Barry).

Sandy is working on another story for insidemagic.com about our attempts to produce Santa as part of the Mall's Christmas promotion. I can't wait to bring that to you.

So with that as prologue, here is Sandy's masterpiece. For a 12 year-old aspiring magician, it was magic just to approach the Magic Fun Wagon.

From a distance the mirrors that are mounted behind the brightly colored wagon wheels truly give the appearance of a real circus wagon plopped down in the middle of the mall.

The windows are filled with all sorts of amazing and strange things that draw you closer. As you follow with your eyes the magic tricks and gags, and exploding this and smoking that you come upon what looks like a small stage on the side of the wagon.

More wonders greet you from within, Halloween masks hang from the ceiling, hooks overflowing with colorful party favors and crepe paper decorations. Lower down there are row upon row of crypticly marked boxes,“dissolving half dollar”, “thumb tips”, and “breakaway wand”, adding even more mystery.

A voice breaks your concentration asking “what can I show you today?” and as you turn you see a smiling face and busy hands. It’s the hands that you are drawn to as they manipulate a deck of cards,fingers moving in concert with each card as if they were one.

“Would you like to see a trick?” the voice asks; again breaking your mesmerized stare.

“Sure” you reply and as you watch, never taking your eyes away, those hands seem to make all the markings vanish from the deck of cards.

As he fans the deck of cards out in front of you, you see that both sides are now blank when just a moment ago you know it was a regular deck of cards. You look up at the smiling face again for just a second and when you look back at the cards all the faces and backs of the cards are again there.

With your mouth open in the classic fly catching pose you ask, “how did you do that?”

The reply is simple:“very well, thank you” adding “and for $3.98 plus tax I can show you how to do the same thing.”

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