Sorry for the delay in replying - snowed under since I got back from the Yankee Gathering, and I had to decipher my notes. In brief, it was a great time.
Thursday began with bus trips to Brown University to view selected items from H. Adrian Smith's book collection and to hear about the late Mr. Smith from Dr. Eddie Dawes and Dave Downs. That evening the initial lecture was from Dr. Robert Albo, who gave us a hint of his upcoming book, The Ultimate Okito, which will be accompanied by a number of DVD's. Can't wait!
This was preceded by the first tribute to the Honored Guests, Ann and Ray Goulet. This marvelous couple have done so much for magic and collecting. Ed Hill showed slides of some great photographs, and special presentations were made by Phil Willmarth and a representative from Ken Klosterman.
The lectures were varied and fascinating. Gary Hunt talked on The Great Brindamour, daredevil escape artist and rival to Houdini. Bob Rossi explained the early Dunninger's transition from magic to mentalism, including a fascinating vintage film clip from newsreel footage. Richard Hatch told us about the exploits of his great-uncle Hal Clawson, a magician and manager of magicians. Great stories! Bill Spooner lectured on trick wands. He has gone to great lengths - even to using forensic tools such as X-rays and chemical analysis - to know as much as he can about early wands. That was just Friday morning.
Friday evening Arthur Moses recreated Houdini's anti-Spiritualism lecture in a Powerpoint presentation taken from the original 50 glass slides, along with Houdini's original script amended by Mr. Moses. Byron Walker detailed his amazing "collection of collections," and the great book treasures he has acquired over the years. Peter Lane spoke on The Royal Aquarium, a London venue that offered few fish but many magicians and other fascinating variety acts. Chris Woodward gave us marvelous insights into Maurice Fogel along with great film clips.
In the middle Friday there was an auction with many goodies. The Houdini collectors seemed to have a field day, and the very witty Robert Olson did his usual splendid job as auctioneer.
Saturday began with a flea market and another opportunity to cruise the enticing dealers' room and a very nice exhibit room. Then Jim Hagy spoke on John Grdina, a magician from Cleveland. I had often seen his name and picture in magic magazines growing up, but I had no idea what a marvelous career he had. A new book from Mr. Hagy on Grdina is coming soon. The final lecture was a real crowd pleaser. George Daily offered us a graduate level course in how to collect collections and libraries that was liberally peppered with amazing stories, and some that sent chills up the spines of the attendees...like the collection of marvelous books George had bought for a tidy sum, only to find that they all had yellow highlight underlining throughout the books. (Shudder). Great closing lecture.
Saturday night there was the banquet and show, beginning with Torkova and his splendid money act. The always smooth General Grant peformed his classic dove act. Always a pleasure to see. The closer was the magnificent John Calvert and Tammy. This 95 year old phenomenon presented a number of his classics, including the cigarette production, magazine cover tear, and the dancing handkerchief. Despite taking a tumble as he bounded back on the stage - due to a design flaw in the hotel stage - he bounced back up, tossed it off with a witticism, and kept right on going. Tammy was graceful as ever, and showed her usual great comedic timing in the borrowed watch sequence.
Tom Ewing did a splendid job as M.C throughout the convention and as M.C. and performer Saturday night. The man is smooth.
Those of us who know and love Ray and Ann Goulet were gratified to see them honored in the opening and closing of the Yankee Gathering. Ray Ricard and Ed Hill, among many other NEMCA members, kept us happy, and the hard work they put into Yankee Gathering XI paid off big time. Hope this wasn't an excessively long post, but I had a blast.