A little over a week ago, the national press announced the unfortunate demise of a colorful figure, the lawyer, Mel Sachs. Along with being a legal advisor for CORE he was a criminal defense attorney involved in some of the most notable cases in recent decades. Indeed he defended what many would consider some of the most scurrilous figures that could be unearthed. But he had a professional philosophy that they as well as anyone else deserved legal defense.
His ability to influence a jury was legendary.
I came to know him through television and radio appearances in which we appeared together. Indeed, the last time I was with him was for about two hours on WOR’s Joey Reynolds Show. He was debonair, always wore a bow tie and a vest, and a character out of Damen Runyun, brilliant and a compassionate human being. He loved magic and was something of a slight of hand artist. No not a professional, he would never claim such. Whenever we would appear together on a broadcast, he would not only refer to my abilities in reading thoughts, but he would go on with kind enthusiasm about my playing the piano.
One evening after a radio broadcast, he discussed with me a very old and clever magical effect using a paddle. An effect probably done by 80% of the amateur magicians who ever lived; but he showed it to his juries to make them realize that everything was not what it appeared to be.
He knew of my early work as a magician although it is not a title associated with me the past fifty years. I suggested some modifications of how he used the paddle, he became fascinated. All the more so when I explained that I had a certain paddle that was truly magical in what could be done with it. It is not available today. He asked if I would consider releasing it to him and I had to shake my head no. He never asked of it again. And now, twenty seven years after the invention of this ingenious piece of magic, having returned from a beautiful memorial service for Mel Sachs, I find myself sharing the mystery of this paddle with people I come in contact with as in its own way it reflects the charm of this beautiful man.