Sunday, June 12, 2011


I remember Doc as a senior  fellow, probably before he was. It was his demeanor. He wore a  fedora and suit on most days he came to our home. The others he was suited up for magic.  Doc wore many hats. He was a full time magician earning his living that way. He  once drove one of my dads sports  teams for a very short few weeks as he would not take directions from women and often got lost.  My dad booked him at fairs and fundraisers . He was too rubber chickeny  and did not make the standard my dad had for the halftime acts he sent on the road with his professional sports teams.

I never knew his real name. Doc was a familiar name in my childhood.  I kept all of the characters straight when they called on the phone and asked for Dempsey with  a test. I would ask magic Doc? boxing Doc? or basketball Doc?  Finding out if it was Doc the magicin, Doc Jack Kearns the world champ boxing manager or Doc Hallisey that played basketball for my dad on the House of David  and the All American Indians. My oldest brother Dennis was also given the nickname Doc he was the voice I knew and he would ask for Dad not Mr. Dempsey, Phone calls were placed by dialing 0 and reciting Emerson and digits or Sherwood and digits or what ever designated name was given to a particular jurisdiction. Long distance calls were placed as Operator I would like to place a long distance call to blank."  My questioning was racking up the cost of the phone call. Necessary to me none the less.

The Doc with magic up his sleeves came to the stop on our rented house stoop  one August day. My post where I ate creme cheese and strawberry sandwiches supplied by my dad to catch the ongoing traffic of people coming to see him. His office was in our basement ( he had offices in various locations giving them up at times especially summers so he would be home more at the request of my mom as roads for barnstorming were a little less travelled for him in the summer unless he was out with a baseball team traveling the country). I would catch the athletes and entertainers before they got to the door bell. With a half dozen children someone was always in nap mode and it was my effort  to save my mom.

I had the "wait here" hand motion  down as the gate keeper. I would tip toe through the living room , kitchen, dining room, down the basement stairs wait for my dad to get off the phone and announce the athlete or entertainer waiting on the stoop requesting to see him.

On this day when I tip toed back up the stairs Doc the magician was seated on the living room couch with a glass of sweet southern tea my mom had served him. In my view he broke the code. I asked ' how did he get in here?" My mom had gone out to hang laundry and he approached her about entertaining at my  upcoming birthday party. "Mr. Doc brought an early gift for you Erin that was very kind thank him for the gift" He handed a tiny package wrapped in beautiful gold foil with a pink bow on it to me. He motioned me over ."Go ahead open it it is for you now so you can wear it at your birthday party.
 Doc got the gig that day  I got a scolding.

There was a tiny bottle inside with a stopper. The box and bottle inscribed with Parfum Eau de toilette  I later learned is a lightly scented  french perfume.

(Toilet waters are usually named after a principal ingredient; some being Geranium Water, Lavender Water, Lilac Water, Violet Water, Spirit of Myrcia and 'eau de Bretfeld'.Because of this "toilet water" is sometimes referred to as "flower water.".)
So what would be unusual with me thinking that it was water to be poured down the toilet to scent it. When I came out of the bathroom and  proudly announced "thank you I poured it down the toilet." My mom was humiliated and Doc was dismayed he paid for an extravagant gift on his salary that went down the toilet.  Must I say I was six.

The show must go on , he returned to entertain my birthday guests cutting a women in two, pulling flowers out of his sleeve , and making a nickel disappear  with the same vigor as I had pouring his gift down the commode.

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