That means we have few friends but those we do have, are fun to be around.
Rick Carruth has stood with Inside Magic since the late 1940s, right after the war and America was getting back to work, turning the mighty magic industrial engines from war-time goods to magic effects and props.
One of the Mystic Hollow Iron Works plants (we think it was the old Thurston Road facility — now the site of the Iron Works Mall) dedicated three shifts a day to producing bombardier windows and gun barrels. After the war, the factory returned to cranking out TV Card Frames and Flash and Bang Wands.
We made the transition as well. We felt confident that Magic was about to enter its heyday. Inside Magic began as an insert found in specially marked packages of Argos Cigarettes. This was back when everyone smoked and if they didn’t, they were around people who did smoke so it really didn’t matter that they didn’t.
Argos Cigarettes was a premium brand from the makers of some of Europe’s finest cigarette and cigars, Vespa. (After the war, they added motor scooters to their product mix and eventually sold off the tobacco lines in favor of the transportation market). Little known is that Vespa’s second largest shareholder was Prince William van der Byce better known to magic historians as “Byce the Magician.”
The prince insisted the Argos cigarettes have a special filter attached to assist magicians performing manipulation routines. The filter was sturdy and when moistened, would adhere to almost any surface. Lit or unlit, the Argos brand was hands down the choice of magicians. In fact, that is where the expression, “Tip your hat” comes from. Magicians would often “lick and load” a pack or two individual cigarettes on to the back of their top hats and with a gentle tip forward, a cigarette would roll nicely into place along the outer rim of the hat. It became common for magicians to tip their hats when greeting men or women to get their cigarette loads ready. The lay audiences took the gesture to be one of respect and magicians never said otherwise.
But we digress.