The Magic of Television — Linda Knight Seccaspina
I once wrote a story about writing letters as a child to the media and it got me thinking.The first TV program I remember watching as a child was the Mantovani Show, and not only was it boring, but it was in black and white. But then exciting things came to television like Coca Cola and Dick Clark. Here were some of my favourites:
Cartoon Corner and Howdy Doody
Cartoon Corner, Friendly Giant and Howdy Doody were daily favourites of mine in black and white on CBC. I also remembered having to unplug the TV when a thunderstorm occurred in the afternoon as my Mother said it was “going to blow the house up if one of those bolts wrapped around the venetian blinds”.
Every night at 5 in 1961 I would watch the CBC- TV show Razzle Dazzle hosted by Suzanne Somers’ husband, Alan Hamel. I had entered a writing contest and was eagerly waiting to hear if I won a pen with my “meatless meat pie” essay. A few weeks later I found out that I had indeed won a Razzle Dazzle pen for my story along with a photo of Howard the Turtle.
Hockey Night in Canada
In 1967 the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup and I was a member of the Dave Keon fan club who scored the winning goal that year for the last game. I was a proud card carrying member, and for 25 cents you got a signed glossy photo of him and a membership card.
The day after the playoffs I brought in that black and white 8 by 10 photo of him and taped it to the classroom blackboard. My teacher Mrs. Shufelt, who was not a fan of Dave Keon or said team, had an upset look on her face when she saw it. Yes, it was worth the 25 cents I had spent on it. I can still see the frown on her face like it was yesterday.
Hello Boys and Girls, it’s time for Magic Tom!
Every afternoon as a child, I was glued to the TV set awaiting my beloved Magic Tom Auburn on CFCF TV out of Montreal. Tom once described himself as a “man who played with silk hankies” but to me and every child he was a man with something new up his sleeve every single day. Canada’s Man of Magic was never fully appreciated by my Father as he constantly said Magic Tom needed to polish his act up.
Magic Tom once said that little girls only wanted to be three things in life: a Mommy, a Nurse, and an Airline Stewardess. It was the same thing I heard a few years later in the Cowansville High School Vice Principal’s office when I told him I wanted to be a fashion designer. I often wondered if they were related.
Tom began his career at age 13 with a bout of scarlet fever, a magic book and a lot of time on his hands just outside Cornwall. It is the unspoken ethic of all magicians to not reveal the secrets, and once in a blue moon Tom did. Sometimes the kids thought he was cheating and expressed their sentiments– but the next time you saw the same trick, maybe you didn’t see that glass of milk sinking under the red cloth– and wondered if you had been right the first time.
Each day I waited until the end of the show to see the empty silver dish suddenly become full of candy for the kids with a simple mere tap of his magician’s wand. No matter how hard I looked I could not find out how Magic Tom did this trick.
I later found out however that this same trick was performed in WW11 by a small group of French Patriots who were being held prisoner by the Germans. They made a deal with their captors that if they performed this trick they would be let go. There was a happy ending and they were freed.
Magic Tom and his wife Dolores have long passed and are buried in the Cornwall region at the St. Lawrence Valley Cemetery near Long Sault/Cornwall. I hope people remember Magic Tom as a kind man who brought magic to the people as he pushed the boundaries of wonder for all of us.
Some people say there isn’t magic. Some people say there is. I say there always will be— as in a way, we are all magicians, and so was television when I grew up in the 50s and 60s. They provided a wonderful open door to the everyday pleasures when life was just a simpler world.