“Magic Shop,” read the faded sign over the door.
It was nothing fancy: storefront glass smudged by a thousand kids’ fingerprints as they passed by outside, rickety floors, paint peeling off the door. It was just an old corner store on the downtown strip of busy little summer lake-town. Somehow still it beckoned to us.
We ventured inside and met a local legend.
His name was Whip.
Whip (whose given name is Bill) and his sister Pat and their brother (who is now passed away) have run this place together since 1977.
My kids don’t notice the dust, the musty smell, or the run down look of the place. Once inside, they pay no attention to the sounds of the motorcycles roaring past or the laughter of the ice-cream cone eaters strolling up and down the sidewalks outside.
Once inside, they only have eyes for Whip and his magic.
It’s like a place right out of an old movie. There are glass cases and showcases full of every trick in the book. Cup-and-ball tricks, loaded dice, mental projection boards, fake blood, finger-severing-guillotines, vanishing tricks. There’s a “baby alien” inside a jar of some mysterious liquid. There are fireworks, too, like Cobra Black Snakes and Morning Glories – and a free pack of sparklers with every $2 purchase.
Basically, it’s a dream come true for kids. They have everything in there – books about Houdini, vampire teeth, fake dog poop, everything you ever needed to know about juggling, stink bombs, you name it.
“There’s a lot of ‘F’ words in here,” Josie whispers to me. I look around and she’s right, there are a lot of ‘F’ words – there’s Fart Powder, Fart Cushions, and Fart Alarms, just to name a few.
Sadie, who considers herself a magician-in-training, can’t believe how lucky she is to have stumbled upon such a place. She takes it all in and asks Whip all kinds of questions. He is kind, personable (as all good magicians are), talented, and patient. He refuses to let her waste money on tricks he deems “not up to par” for aspiring young magicians. Instead, he takes the time to send everyone else away to the opposite side of the store while he shows her the secret of “Two-Card Monte.” She ends up spending her own money on several new things to add to her own “box of tricks” including some cards and a Disappearing Drawer.
Josie was more interested in learning about The Spiked Coin trick (which Whip also showed her how to do) and Adelaide couldn’t wait to get her hands on her very own magical coloring book which she spotted in one of the big glass cases. She spent the rest of the evening trying it out on her little brother.
What caught my interest was a smoking dog. I hadn’t seen one of those things since I was probably six years old and I was so excited when I saw it there on the shelf! I remember when my daddy and my grandpa showed one to me – they thought it was the funniest thing ever and I remember being completely mesmerized by it. Of course, now that I see it with my grown-up eyes it seems a lot less mystical and a lot more plastic and cheesy, but still – it’s a memory that I cherish. I even bought a second one for my daddy. I wish my Grandpa were still around and I would share “a cigarette” with him and his dog too.
Speaking of cigarettes, against my better judgment, my husband bought the girls some fake smoking cigarettes. Even though it makes ME feel sick to see them puffing away on what I know is a FAKE cigarette, they can barely contain their excitement to try them out and hopefully fool their cousins.
Sadie summed it up perfectly as we walked back out into the summer night – back out to the modern world of streetlights, lemonade and fresh donuts. “This place is amazing!” Looking back over her shoulder, she added, “Next year, I want to come back to see Whip and I’m going to spend EVERY CENT of my birthday money in here!”
If you’re ever out in Geneva-on-the-Lake, you should stop by and meet Whip and his sister. Go back in time and buy some old tricks you’ve forgotten about or even a new one – amaze your friends! Our new favorite magician will show you everything you need to know… and hey, you might even get yourself some free sparklers.