The war is over. Fred Braue is 40 years old, recently married and the wife is pregnant. The shipyard stopped producing warships and the number of employes goes from 39.000 to 11.000 in a few months. Fred decides to go back into journalism and in between jobs he and his wife go to the East Coast via Chicago mid 1946 for a duration of two months to visit and meet for the FIRST TIME Jean Hugard face to face. Also to see his new friend Paul Fleming in Swarthmore,Penn. as well as his old publisher Carl Jones (ECT). The SAM conference in Washington is also in the program and in his luggage he has a bundle of the Invisible Pass booklet.
Returning to California he and wife are very busy setting up their new home and adjusting to the new job and not before October 2 1946 he is able to write a long letter to Paul Fleming to give his impressions from his long stay in New York. Here is this interesting letter:
.... I note that you have seen Kaplan work and that you liked his work. I did too and should imagine that his book would be most worthwhile, although I haven't seen the copy. I liked Kaplan personally and from his past record - that is, the tricks which he has already published - think him most ingenious and practical. He did one trick at a show back East which took my eye - that of unreeling about ten yards of white thread, after which a spectator helped break it into a great number of short lengths; after which Kaplan held the broken pieces, balled, on the palm of his hand; after which the thread was spread from one to the other and was fully restored. This, to me, was much more interesting than a rope restoration. It was amazing at what a distance the white thread could be seen.
I note also that you saw Roy Benson in Philadelphia and that you liked his act. I like Benson very much indeed and imagine that if he DID do a book it would be a good one. However, it is apparently still in the future tense and I wonder if he will actually do it. Writing a book is a job, a lot of work, and some of us are always going to do it --manana. (It is curious how magicians copy one another. Benson does the salt rick and after his appearance here many of the local magicians have picked it up, including Steve Shepard. The locals don't know the secret of the great quantity of salt which Benson produces so they don't get the same effect.)............
...The Invisible Pass has done and is doing very well. It is not sensational but it will be a steady seller I'm sure, which is all that one can ask. .......
.....In your letter you comment that you would have liked to talk over the New York magicians. Apparently I conveyed the thought that I wasn't too impressed, which is the case; however, some of this lack of appreciation of the New Yorkers as magicians was due to as much to their ethical and social attitudes as much as anything else. It seems to me that a chap like Carlyle (Francis) does a great deal of harm to all magicians. Apparently he goes on 'benders' and is proud of the fact; he is uncouth in his talk and doesn't seem to have very good judgement. It seems to me that in conjuring as in any other profession character counts for a good deal.
Scarne I liked. His ego is amusing and apparently he does not have confidence in himself and most continually bolster his self regard by pronouncing how good he is. Yet I liked him, in the few contacts I had with him. He did but one trick for us, a card to wallet effect which he did for Ann after I'd shown him the Invisible Pass (which he liked exceedingly and told me to quote him in any way I liked in advertising). His control of the card after a peek was to take a break; undercut to take it to the bottom; shuffle a few times holding it there; palm off and take to the pocket; all of this done rather too rapidly for my liking. I did not see him work enough to be able to estimate him accurately. He is wholly wrapped up in a new game he is marketing called "Scarne", in which he states that he has invested $ 17.000. He will be out here on the Coast some time this month - so he said - and I look forward to having more time with him. (And - as you comment in your letter - you won't quote me on any of this!)
Yes; Horowitz was a tremendous disappointment. He has no fire, went through his act smugly smiling at his own cleverness.
I should like to have had more time with Vernon. He came down to Dixie hotel a couple of times to meet me and we had pleasant general talks with a little card magic. He gave me his phone number and urged me to call but the number actually was Dr Daley's and I was unable to contact him. I did see him work at Lukins' party and we spent about two hours swapping ideas. (Which recalls to mind that when last I saw him we parted at 42nd and 6th avenue as Dai went to catch a street car. He was waiving goodbye and laughing and he didn't watch traffic and right there we nearly had the end of Vernon. He saw the auto at the last moment, dodged it, and even at that distance I had to laugh at the comment he made at the driver - it was from the very soul.)
Vernon's work, I should say, is about as good as any I have seen but not outstandingly better. I think he is superior in brain-work. For instance, he did the Triumph trick which Stars of Magic are now selling and this is not at all difficult, once one knows the routine. Yet when I saw him do it I missed the trick entirely, was completely gulled. My guess is that Vernon keeps up on everything, takes a good idea, works on it, plays with it, changes it around, and eventually hooks a better working. The other day in an old Tops I came across the trick which was probably the basis on which he erected the trick which recently he had in Jean's magazine - I chuckled when I saw it.
Vernon's Cutting the Aces is a marvelous audience trick, not at all hard. Rosini showed this to me in 1940 and I've been doing it ever since. I didn't like the method of cutting so changed this and use a straight slip cut, facing the top card first, and this is better when the audience is seated around as it sometimes is in closeup. He also has one move in the routine which is awkward and could be handled differently. However, the point is that Vernon dreamed this one up, and he made it a mighty fine trick. In my opinion the two Vernon tricks are far superior to the Scarne card trick, which Stars of Magic first put out, judging them on audience-reaction, which is all that that is important.
Dr Daley: Curiously, I had not the slightest interest in seeing him work, which was probably stupid of me. I had heard, however, that he riffle-shuffles the pack for hours; that he can do marvelous set-ups in this manner; but I at that point had no desire to see someone endlessly shuffle cards. In meeting him once to speak to I thought him a trifle negative on the personality side, there was no warmth or particular interest and this may have prejudiced me.
Bert Allerton: You have a treat when you see Bert work. His one objective is to amuse and entertain and this he does to a turn.
Carl Jones: A most fascinating personality, complex and interesting, and one which I simply for the life of me couldn't fanthom. He phoned when he arrived in New York and invited us to meet him for lunch at his hotel. Ann and I took Jean with us, although I am not sure that Jones had wanted him. (This is very definitely confidential). We had lunch and Jean returned to his home. Then Jones really went to town; chartered a limousine and took us for a two-hour drive around town; took us to the Coffee House for dinner; took us to see Orson Welles' show. He had so much fun, he said, that he phoned the next day and asked us to repeat. We went in and had dinner, went to see State of the Union and finished up at Waldorf. We talked of many things and I was really glad to have met him since for a long time I had wondered what he was like. As a host, there is nothing more one could ask and it was not until we arrived at the Waldorf could I make a return of any kind. I believe that he sincerely thinks that Jean's part in Greater Magic was very small; he referred to the great amount of work which he had done at some length. In all this I remained noncommittal since I had no desire to enter into a pointless argument. Point was, however, that there would not have been a GM if Jean hadn't done it.
We had a great deal of conversation which more or less off the record; and some that wasn't, which I thought it best not to repeat to Jean since it would have served no good purpose..
..(now an uninteresting part about printers)..
..In any event, Carl from a social viewpoint is completely charming and entertaining; he even wanted us to stop off at Minneapolis to stay for a time. There is no doublt that he feels, sincerely, that he has done well by Jean from a business;man's outlook. ........
..... Did I tell you that Ann and i dropped in to see John (Mulholland) after his return from St Louis? He is certainly a character. Roy Benson stated that they rejected him during the first war; wanted him in the second war because of his brilliance! I should say that he is a very slow thinker, it takes him time to catch on. Ann and I watched fascinated while he took a package from a delivery boy, slowly and meticulously counted off some postage stamps, looked at them, thought it over, slowly affixed them to a sheet of paper with a pin; looked at the paper and stamps - and at the pin; picked up a pencil; looked at the pencil; thought it over; thought it over some more; wrote something on the paper; looked at the pencil and put it away. Put the paper and stamps and pin to one side; looked up at us."I forget things," he said. .....
:) that' it!