Vernon anecdote true?

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 04/14/03 12:13 PM

While talking with a top card man at the Castle the other day, I mentioned the Vernon anecdote that when he was young, he was on some scaffolding in New York City and ended up falling down five flights of scaffolding into the East River, hitting his arms on boards all the way down.

The story goes that he woke up in the hospital, and that a hospital official offered to put a pen in his mouth to make his mark to give permission to cut off both arms. He refused.

Perhaps the best story about Vernon I've ever heard (it makes you wonder what card magic would look like today if the hospital had had its way). However, this Vernon confidante said that it's generally accepted that Vernon made it up.

Yesterday, I asked another inner-circle guy, and he disagreed. He offered as evidence the way that Vernon's elbows permanently stuck out, that they had healed wrong. In fact, he said that the wand spin can't be done as described in the book, that you have to stick your arms out the way Vernon's debility forced him to.

Can anyone shed any light on this story? And on Vernon's tendency to embellish? And his relationship with the truth?

Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/14/03 12:29 PM

Vernon was walking on a plank carrying two buckets of mercury, one in each hand. The plank broke and he fell (into the East River, I believe).
The fact that so many people do the Mora/Vernon Wand Spin properly, despite their elbows looking more normal, makes that point moot.
I have heard that the positions of Vernon's elbows was not related to the accident: in other words, they stuck out that way prior to the accident. The only person who really knows all of this stuff in detail is David Ben, and so you'll just have to wait for his book.
Vernon embellished a great many of his stories.
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 04/14/03 01:41 PM

Yes, the accident did happen as Vernon said. There is a photo of Vernon in a hospital bed with both arms in casts. If I remember it right, he is being visited by Sam Horowitz and Vernon is holding a ball and cone, the cone actually being the lampshade from the bedside table lamp! This photo appears in one of The Vernon Chronicles (probably volume 4) and I'm pretty sure it was also printed in Vernon's monthly column The Vernon Touch . Vernon also relates how John Scarne visited him in the hospital and made the comment, "Dai, this is why guys like you and me shouldn't work for a living".
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Postby Guest » 04/14/03 01:52 PM

This story, and photo, appear in Daniel Zuckerbrot's excellent "The Spirit of Magic" video. A wonderful portait of one man's obsession with his art.

Postby Rick Schulz » 04/15/03 10:01 AM

Richard: can you give us any more information on when David Ben's book on Vernon will be published and released?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/15/03 10:48 AM

I have no idea. I would say that it's not likely to be this year.
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Postby Guest » 04/18/03 07:30 AM

I can tell you exactly what would have happened to card magic if Vernon's arms had been cut off that day.....All the moves would definately have been Marlo's.

Dean Atkinson

Postby Terry » 04/19/03 06:28 AM

All the moves would definately have been Marlo's.

Even with the Professor around, according to the "published" record, all the moves are Marlo's. Whether he "created" them or "borrowed" them. All you have to do is change the name. :rolleyes:
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