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 Post subject: Al's Magic Shop in DC
PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:56 am 
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Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 3
Al's Magic shop was truly the most exciting memories of my childhood.
In the heart of DC, we lived in Falls Church VA. So I had to beg my Mother to take me there, which she did, once a year on my birthday.

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Al Cohen had this way about him - perfect for kids. A grandfatherly type with a twinkle in his eye. The first time I went there I was just 10 years old and I will never forget it. The place looked like something out of a Harry Potter movie, with silver cups, balls, and large stage magic in glass cases. He came out from behind the counter and gave me a big silver dollar to inspect. I gave it back to him and he threw is back and forth between his hands several times and then held out his fist to me and said "squeeze as hard as you can". I squeezed, and he opened his fist to reveal the silver dollar . . . bent into a curve. I thought it was real magic and had no concept of "tricks".

He then went back behind the counter and showed me what was then called "Pop" - the nickel through the rubber trick. I was soooooo mesmerized. How could that happen ?? He was a GOD to me. When he revealed to me that "I" could also do the same trick, a whole new world opened up to me. My mother bought Pop, 3-card Monte, and the Nickels-to-Dimes trick. We went home, and I was hooked. Later I was so obsessed that I sent him money in an envelope for more tricks. He mailed me the tricks but said "next time do not send coins - the envelope was torn and half of them were hanging out !!" What a dumb kid I was - hahaha.

Al eventually left and his son ran the store for a while then it closed. But I will never forget the wonderful old man with the twinkle in his eye at Al's Magic Shop. At 10, I no longer believed in Santa, but I believed in Mister Al. And I still believe in Mister Al. He's my hero !!!!


Last edited by lifeson99 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Al's Magic Shop in DC - remembrance of Al Cohen
PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:52 pm 
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Joined: 16 Mar 2005
Posts: 208
Now I am middle-aged and sadly, he is dead.

Huh? He was just honored at the S.A.M. Convention earlier this month. Al's Magic Shop has been closed for a while now, but Al himself is still alive and kicking. I just checked the Washington Post obitutaries to make sure, as they certainly would have reported it.

His shop had the obligatory fake dog poop and other novelties up front to pay the bills, and the real magic in the back. I recall his crotchety side with a twinkle in his eye.

On one of my first visits I asked him if he had any thumb tips. He said, "I've got a whole drawer full, what are you looking for?" I told him that I was looking for something that better matched my lighter skin tone, so I could hold out my hands to show them empty. He replied, "Look Sonny, if you're worried about skin tone you're using the TT wrong. You can hide it behind a deck of cards. You can hide it behind your opposite hand. Why would you want to show your hands empty anyway? If you act like nothing is there, the audience will think there is nothing there. When you say 'Look, my hands are empty,' then they know you're lying. Only laymen worry about matching skin tone. Do you want to be a layman the rest of your life?"


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 Post subject: Re: Al's Magic Shop in DC
PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:02 pm 
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Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 3
Oh my - you made my day. I heard wrong.
As to the thumb tips - he had these big, round, fleshy hands that could palm a chandelier if need be. LOL

Thanks a lot - I corrected the post.


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 Post subject: Re: Al's Magic Shop in DC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:12 pm 
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Joined: 25 May 2006
Posts: 92
Enjoyed reading these reminiscences. Al's Magic Shop was a highlight of my growing up as well. My dad worked on Capitol Hill, and he used to go into work a lot on Saturday mornings. He'd take me, I'd hang out in his office, and then we'd have lunch downtown and go to Al's. This was the original Pennsylvania Avenue location, the long, narrow store with crooked floors. I too had that trick with the rubber over the glass as well as a boatload of Emerson and West packet tricks, Dot's Incredible and its various sequels, and a bunch of tricks with weird illustration cards that I found when cleaning out the family house and which I couldn't begin to remember what they were for. I lost interest in magic for 25 years, and I think it was remembering those trips to Al's with my dad that rekindled it.

Al still does, I believe, a semi-regular column for Genii, and you can find some great anecdotes in the back issues.


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