When Did Magic Begin (In my life.)
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m getting a little bit older. I’ve noticed that I have a few wrinkles. I have a sag or two that makes me wonder where they came from. Yep. I wear hearing aids and I can’t write my name in the snow any more. Sure, I can do punctuation, but as for full words, not so much and keep them readable.
As Jimmy Buffett says so perfectly, “Growing older but not up.” No worries. My philosophy is I’m going to live longer than some, shorter than others and I’m in hopes that I stay healthy until I die. That would work for me.
But back to the title of this post. I’ve told my story to a few people over the years, but for my family and future generations, I wanted to throw it out on digital paper so it lasts as long as someone is paying the bill and then the site is torn down.
I’ve listened to stories from magicians around the World and we all pretty much have a common connection. We were shocked to find out that there was more to the World than Mom and Dad were telling us about. There was Magic.
I found that out from my Grandpa Galloway. Everyone older than me called him Bill. But I was told to use those five syllables. He was special. He was short. He was a barber. In fact he would cut my hair from as far back as I could remember. If I moved, he would say, “Don’t move or I’ll put a hole in your head.” As I look back now, I know that he was talking about my hair, but at the time, I was thinking he was going to gouge a hole in my skull and I was going to bleed to death and die. But I was the stillest little boy you ever saw sitting on a stool.
He always gave me a dime when we said goodby after a visit. He wasn’t supposed to give us kids ice cream, but he would take us for a walk, get us some cones and make us sit on the curb and eat ‘em because we could lean forward and not get any on our clothes so he could get away with breaking the rules. But, I think grandma knew all along and yelled at him just for fun.
He made me laugh a lot. He sang silly little songs like 1,2,3,4,5 I caught a fish alive. He could pop his teeth out and put ‘em back in upside down and scare the shit out of us, He farted a lot and he got yelled at by my grandma and he would just say, “Better out than in.”
But he was not just a showman for us. He was a ventriloquist. He was great. He had a vulgar sailor doll that smoked cigarettes, He had a “Black” dancing boy that stood in front of a curtain and would dance and sing. He had a small little guy that would sit on his lap and keep us laughing. His dad, my great grandfather, was a ventriloquist also. My sister has some of his dolls. They are handmade out of paper mache. The news paper in one of the heads is from 1902.
As the story goes, Grandpa Bill worked vaudeville at one time. He worked the east coast and from what I heard, he crossed paths with Houdini in those days. That might have been true, because he really was a showman. Of course he also told me that he came from England on a passenger ship. He said he had a wart on his forehead and on that passage, he stuck his head out of the porthole and a big wave splashed him in the face. When he got to America, the wart was gone. Who knows, that may have been true too.
My Grandpa also was my first magician. In the back room of their little white house in Compton, CA, he reached in a drawer and pulled out a small red ball, made a magical gesture and then there was two, then three and then four. If I would have known the phrase, “What the F%#K”, at age five, I would have yelled it at the top of my lungs and had my mouth washed out with soap.
My life just changed in an instant! At that tender age, I knew there was more to this World then the day to day living. The juices started flowing, the Dreams were being dreamed. Magic was in my soul and had just been sparked.
I still have those balls of his, but that’s another story.
I’ll be back later and continue...
Bro. Paul West
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