The First Time
I was on a preview visit to the University I was hoping to attend in Nashville, Tennessee. Somehow—not sure how—I’d heard that there was a museum of magic history in a suburb, of Nashville, called Brentwood. I had a great Uncle that lived in Brentwood so my parents were familiar with this upscale community. Perhaps that helped me as I convinced my mom and dad to take me there when we finished the University tour.
1954 Old Hickory Boulevard.
David Price and his lovely wife, Virginia, met us at the door. Virginia was a sweet, sweet lady—with a love of birds—and was a perfect hostess. Mr. Price—as I would come to call him was intriguing to this young seventeen-year-old magic-addict. He looked like an old wizard to me. An old wizard who had traded in a magic carpet for a motorized scooter. Ever see Dick VanDyke’s portrayal of the old-old magician? That’s what it was like.
As entered the modest ranch-style home, off of Old Hickory Blvd, a right turn, then a left—and my eyes were transfixed on artifacts I had never seen the likeness of before! I was mesmerized. Really. We went from the front room of a residential home to a “room” that was, well, a museum of magical history. Posters covered every wall. Shelves of Scrapbooks were full of magician ephemera. Props, sculptures, mini-models of illusions, and a whole “wall” of magician’s wands. “What’s this, Mr. Price?” “Oh, that’s T. Nelson Downs Coin Ladder.”(You mean the guy who wrote “The Art Of Magic“?? I owned the prestigious Dover paperback copy. :0))
I was “hooked.” It was the same as when I first walked into Tom Craven’s VIP Magic Shop in Auburndale, Florida. In the Egyptian Hall I was bitten by the “magic history bug” the pharaoh David Price had cast his Egyptian Magic deep into my psyche. :0)
I am sure that David could see that I was awestruck. The initial shock of wonder began to wear off, just a bit—and we were asked to sign the guestbook. I indeed wasn’t the first of those who had read, too, about the amazing feats of these giants whose profiles now hung “3 sheets” high all around me. Kellar, Thurston, and of course, Houdini.
The first magic poster I purchased, (thanks to reprinting by Lee Jacobs, from the magic shop at Cypress
Gardens Theme Park, in Winter Haven, Florida) was Houdini’s King Of Cards— a fantastic poster! That poster and the stories I had read up until that point had fueled my imagination of becoming a world-famous magician, too.
One peculiar thing that many magicians of the golden age seemed to have on their posters–which was absent from the King Of Cards was that of Imps; Little devilish characters. They seemed to be making the magic happen for the magician. These characters intrigued my clergy-father. Who, up until this point had an insufficient experience with magic, tricks or magicians. So, when it came time to ask Mr. Price questions during this inaugural visit to the Egyptian Hall—my father inquired as to the reason that all these posters had these Imps on them. Although I don’t remember exactly what David said in answering my father’s question—I do remember Mr. Price was intrigued by the question—and gave a sufficient enough answer that my father never questioned it again.
It was a day that would—and has—stood out in my memory for more than 29 years. And was the first—but not the last of Egyptian Hall Memories.
(Want to know more about the history of the Egyptian Hall? Click Here to read about it from the current curator, Mike Caveney.)