Last week, I shared my adventures in Scranton, PA with my friends Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz (D&D). Well the adventure didn’t stop there. After three incredible days of being treated like a celebrity in Scranton, D&D took me to NYC for one more extra special day.
June 15th, Monday morning, I picked up D&D at the Houdini Museum and between the three of us we had a lot of fun navigating our way to Queens, NYC. Once we got to Queens, we made a pit stop (which I highly recommend, LoL) and had lunch before proceeding to Machpelah Cemetery. It was a beautiful day when we arrived.
What an incredible feeling came over me, when I turned right into the cemetery and saw Harry’s bust sitting atop the monument in all its grandeur for the first time in person.
- The grass looked like it hadn’t been cut in quite a while – Dorothy made a phone call and was told had they knew she coming for a visit, they would have cut it
- Houdini’s grave stone was covered with tasteless cards, rust deposits from various items left, and graffiti (i.e., someone had actually drew a heart on it).
- There was no sign of any work being done on the SAM Mosaic emblem, other than the fact that there were some additional stones missing since D&D last visit.
And speaking of missing stones, D&D have made arrangements to have Leopold’s and Gladys’s (Houdini’s brother and sister) markers that got vandalized in the early 1990’s restored permanently later this year. The Gladys and Leopold headstones were damaged when they were used as batterers to destroy the benches (which have since been replaced). So I was able to see the benches that got replaced in 1996 by S.A.M. with help from David Copperfield and James Randi, the bust that got replaced in 2011 by D&D, and in the near future, Gladys and Leopold headstones being replaced by D&D. Plus the SAM Mosaic tile will be getting a face lift hopefully soon, courtesy of the S.A.M.
While we were at the cemetery, we wanted to also pay our respects to Larry Weeks who passed away on October 13, 2014. He called himself “Houdini’s Biggest Fan” and was the previous owner of the only known complete print of The Grim Game before he sold it to TCM in 2014 just before he passed away. After a number of phone calls, we were finally able to locate where he is buried; which is just on the other side of the hill from Houdini.
After a nice afternoon at the cemetery, it was time to go to our next special destination, which wasn’t too far away. Oddly enough, it started to rain as soon as we made preparations to leave the cemetery. Thank goodness, we had nice weather during our visit with Harry and company.
By the time we arrived at our next stop, the brief rain had stopped.
Our next stop was at Fred Pittella’s apartment which was like a Houdini and Escapes Museum. This was not only a first for me, but also D&D. Our jaws dropped as we entered this shrine where every wall, display cabinet and trunk was filled with Houdini, Hardeen, and Competitors memorabilia. Fred by far has the largest and best collection of escape king memorabilia that I have ever seen.
Note: The Defiance Handcuff Act did not provide keys for at least two of the handcuffs in this ad: the Houdini Bell-lock Cuff and the Russian Manacle.
He definitely needs to publish a book on Escape Kings. Fred was an amazing host and allowed us full access to his entire collection. It was amazing to see the originals of so many items that have been published, along with items that have never been published. I wish I could have spent another day just going through his albums of rare photos, letters, playbills, and programs. If I am ever in the area again, I will definitely take Fred up on his open invitation to come back anytime.
It was getting late and we had 8 pm tickets to Monday Night Magic, New York’s Longest Running Magic Show. So off we went. The theatre was located in Greenwich Village at the famous landmark, the Café Wha?
The MC and performers were all first-rate professionals and each one in their own unique way contributed to a fantastic evening of magic and entertainment. And the management there was great as well. I highly, highly, recommend seeing Monday Night Magic.
After the show, we walked around the block to a diner, had some ice cream and hung out with all of the performers and people that made the show happen. D&D shared their thoughts and expertise with the performers. We were having so much fun, we lost track of the time. It was now early in the morning the next day and we still had to drive back to Scranton, PA.
After hearing some more amazing stories from D&D, we pulled into the parking lot of the Houdini Museum in Scranton,PA about 4:30 am and said our emotional good-byes. This was an extra special trip and experience that I will never forget.
Special Thanks to Fred Pittella for sharing his amazing collection and to Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz for a trip of a lifetime.