My father came back to the Chicago area following World War II. He and his sister Bette performed a comedy act. She would be singing on stage, and my dad would play the drunken heckler from the audience. People would often try to get him out of the theatre, until they realized he was part of the act!
After one performance, Bette was talking to another performer, one of the Rodeo Girls named Rose Pozgay. Rose thought Art was pretty funny and wanted to meet him. So Bette introduced her brother and the next thing you know they were married on June 23, 1946. My sister arrived six months later, something my mother never admitted until only recently, in her 80s!
My father was a crane operator by profession, as was his father and brothers and brother-in-law. I wish he had taken advantage of the GI Bill and gone to school. But he was from a working-class background, and he was married with a child and needed to provide for his family. There is certainly honor in that, and provide he did.
Dad eating fire
Rose and Art, June 23, 1946
My cousin Frank, an aspiring magician
Dad showing how it's done
To bring some excitement into his life, he quickly got hooked up with the local magic groups and became a regular of The Round Table at the Drake Hotel on Saturday afternoons.
My mother often worked weekends, leaving my dad and me together. I took it for granted how he valued my opinion. He would practice, practice, then have me sit as his audience. Of course, it was always a Marlo sleight. I never wanted to hurt his feelings, but I knew he was striving for perfection, so I would tell him the truth. If it wasn't flawless, I'd tell him and back he would go, undeterred with feelings intact, to practice some more unitl he and I were satisfied.