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*** A NEW TRICK! ***
Linking Ring - October 2001 Cover Story about Moe
Linking Ring - July 2003 Story: Moe's "Broken Wand"

Moe's Magic: From the October 2001 Linking Ring

OUR COVER - Reprinted with permission of The Linking Ring

Moe "Clean from Pittsburgh" Seidenstein

You might want to read Fred Rosenbaum's "The Linking Ring on CD-Rom" column this month before reading this cover story. Back in the 1930's, "Moe from Pittsburgh" created a sensation with his unbelievable card locations. He marketed a couple of his tricks, wrote a manuscript which sold for $5.00 (a worthy sum in those days), and then he disappeared.

In 1986, William P. "Bill" Miesel with Jeff Busby and P. Howard Lyons wrote Moe And His Miracles With Cards attempting to recreate and explain Moe's card work. Miesel had made an extensive search of the New Jersey area where Moe had last been heard from to no avail. An avid card man, Miesel contacted every possible source he knew of to find out what might be known of Moe and of his card work. Unbeknownst to him, Moe was alive and well, but had gotten out of organized magic, although he still did tricks for family and friends.

Enter Bill Kalush, an avid and expert card man and magic historian, Bill is in the wholesale grocery business and furnished the watermelons so expertly pierced by Ricky Jay in New York appearances. In 1997, Bill decided to do a search for Moe's family on the Internet and located a Bruce R. Seidenstein in Boca Raton, Florida. Bruce told me that after identifying himself, Bill asked, "Do you know a man named Moe; in 1930 he was a young magician in Pittsburgh?" "Yes," Bruce said, that's my dad, he's still alive and working at a travel agency in Long Island, New York." Bill Kalush responded: "No, that couldn't be the same Moe I'm looking for. If that were he and he was still alive, he couldn't possibly be working. He'd have to be about 90 years old by now." I told him, "That IS my dad, and if you want to call him direct, I'll give you his work phone number. You can call and speak to him yourself. Bill Kalush did call, and the rest is history!"

So here is the story of...

Moe from Pittsburgh, a Legend in Magic, Discovered
by Moe Seidenstein

My full name is Morris Seidenstein and I was born on March 31, 1909 in Avalon, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. My education was very limited after grade school. I went to a school named Business High School. They only had two-year courses such as English, Typing, Math, Shorthand, and Bookkeeping. In the last half term, I fell down a flight of stairs, broke a foot and lost six weeks. They would not let me graduate unless I returned for another semester that was six months. I never returned and therefore I never graduated.

I will describe my working years and early years in magic strictly from memory, so if I make a few mistakes in dates, please accept my apologies in advance. (All my own original documents pertaining to magic were lost in a move long ago.)

My early beginnings in magic are as follows: Some time between 1928-1929, I was working as an errand boy for Yawman & Erbe, a manufacturer of office equipment and supplies. A few doors away I would eat with a fellow by the name of Bill Beatty, a magician. One day he did a few tricks with cards and I said to him, "I could do something like that."

I did this on my very first try and what I did then turned out to be "Moe's Look at a Card." I did this in several different ways. Beatty remarked, "My God, I've never seen anything like this. You would make a hit at one of our magicians' conventions."

It was shortly after that I went to an I.B.M. meeting of magicians and later became a member of both I.B.M. and S.A.M. This was in 1929. My convention experience also started in 1929. That was the real start of my "15 Minutes Of Fame," which lasted for about four years. I took first prize for the best card trick of the year. That was for "Moe's Look at a Card." I gave up attending magic conventions after the 1934 IBM Convention in Batavia.

I came up with one better trick that I thought I could make easier to describe, a triple sympathy card effect. This was released by me in 1933. Your version of that reads well to me and I can only wonder as to how I described it since I don't have a copy. That too was lost in my moving along with all my own original documents pertaining to magic.

Earlier in this writing, I talk about how I got into magic in late 1928 and how I received the job. An uncle of mine saw a sign in a window "Boy Wanted". He went in and told them he had a bright, young, smart nephew; to hold the job and he would get me there in a half hour. I got the job. At this job, I became an Inventory Clerk and demonstrated my memory ability on numerous occasions. We had a few thousand different stock numbers on visible index cards. Each item was on a separate card in a visible index cabinet. If an item were sold during the month, a colored tab would be put on that card. At the end of the month, I would make a report for the home office (Rochester, New York) and just go to the card with the tab and make out the report. There could be hundreds of items to report.

I would challenge other workers to go to any card with a tab, tell me the part number and I would tell them how many we had in stock. I was always able to come up with the correct answer. I expanded this trick from time to time to further explain what I meant. When I spoke of "recovery" on some occasions, I was able to tell them the number on hand as well as the number sold during that month, and then expand it even further by saying how many we recently had ordered to replace our sales. You can just imagine how surprising or miraculous this was to those who had the opportunity to see me do this. I performed this trick many, many times. (Incidentally, Gene Gordon had me demonstrate this with freight trains moving through the city.)

In October of 1929, I learned our New York branch had an opening for an Inventory Clerk and my boss mentioned it to me. I said I would certainly want to go for an opportunity in the big city at $20.00 per week. On the day of the Wall Street crash, October 30, 1929, I was on my way to New York. By 1933 (I believe March 4, 1933), President Roosevelt had declared we were in a depression. Some time after that we had to take cuts in our salary. (The only good thing while I was still an Inventory Clerk was I had the chance to again create another "Moe's Miracle".)

In the early days of my successful acceptance in magic, I had a meeting with Milton Berle. I had known Herb Magidson from Pittsburgh (who was also known as Ray Vaugh or Rave-On-Ray). In addition to doing magic, he was a songwriter for Sophie Tucker. He wrote the song "The Continental" that was in the great movie 42nd Street. When Milton Berle came to New York and Ray was also here, he arranged for me to meet Milton because he too was somewhat of a magician. On a couple of occasions we would meet at the Edison Hotel and practice some of my latest tricks.

Howard Thurston, one of the world's greatest illusionists of his time, heard about my work and arrangements were made for me to meet him backstage (I believe it was at the Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh). Thurston had a teenage daughter that I became friendly with. In my early convention years, I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Blackstone, Sr. and his wife Inez who became my very good friends.

By 1935, I became the Office Manager and got married. All of this was with the office equipment firm of Yawman & Erbe. We moved from downtown Broadway to Radio City to a very elegant floor display. When the war started December 7, 1941, we had to stop the manufacture of steel office equipment and the company then no longer required me and many other employees as well.

In 1942, I became the assistant to the President of the Ever-Ready Label Corporation. I believe at that time we were the world's largest, just making all kinds of paper labels. My job there was to improve our procedures in order to curtail expenses due to the war. I worked there about one year and went to Fairchild Aviation to be in a defense job. Here again, I became an assistant to the President of the company. I was with Fairchild until the end of the war in 1945. In 1946, Emerson Radio bought out the division of Fairchild and my boss there recommended me to Emerson. I then moved back from Jamestown to New York.

At Emerson, we opened a small office on Duane Street in a three-story building in the city. It was an agency of the Government known as WAA that stood for War Assets Administration. Our job was to dispose of the Government surplus equipment that was surplus electronic material and equipment. My first day on the job, I received a list from the Government telling us what was on the way to us from various Government locations such as switches, radio tubes, wire and many other small items. My job with Emerson Radio continued after the WAA ended and I worked with them from 1946 to 1962.

This is the beginning of another of "Moe's Miracles." I ran across a Bill of Lading for 75 carloads of steel radio towers. I thought, what are we going to do with all that in a small 3-story loft with a 25-foot storefront? My job was to control and report the disposal and the financial data. We had an Engineer to examine and assign prices to most of the items and sales. I went to him with the Bill of Lading, handed it to him and said. "What in the world are we to do with this shipment?" He handed it back to me and said, "Young man, that's your problem."

I must have put on my magic hat because I came up with a solution that saved the Government thousands of dollars. I obtained a warehouse that had free storage agreements with a railroad, which had an outside storage with the train company. There would be no charge for storage and no charge for unloading the cars or the reloading if we used their railroad for outbound towers. The value of the surplus that we handled in a little over a year was in excess of more than $350 million. So I am putting this in my so-called "Moe's Miracles." There are other matters that I could talk about in business, but I will stick to those that only pertain to magic.

My job from 1946 to 1962 was administering Government contracts. Litton Industries subsequently bought out the Government contracts. It was the end of their business and I continued to do similar type work with them from 1962 to 1970 when I retired.

(In June of 1964, Joe Berg -- who I believe adopted one of my tricks - knew I was coming to Hollywood and he arranged for my new wife and I to get into the Magic Castle. It was there that I met Harry Blackstone, Jr. and Jose Jimenes, an actor whose real name was Bill Dana. I performed for them and a few friends, and it worked out very well.)

During the next 26 years, I became a part-time traveler and people looked to me for more miracles. On January 3,1997 until the present, I have been living in a senior assisted living facility. I have plans for some more magic ideas, but my present age of 92+s makes this pretty difficult.

The following is a small paragraph that appeared on Page 45 of the Manuscript about my years in magic. I will quote the entire reference, it's like Tinkers to Evers to Chance: (Note: Tinkers, Evers and Chance were a long-ago double-play team, perhaps the best ever to play baseball.)

"Moe's first marketed effect, "Look At A Card," was originally sold in 1930. On February 26, 1933, Connie Bush received personal instruction from Moe in performing the effect. Connie took notes which he has kindly given me permission to publish."

I can honestly say that I don't remember this particular meeting. You or anyone else may call it a coincidence, but to me it turns out to be another "Moe's Miracles." If at all true, why wouldn't Connie ask me to put it in writing? Next, why would Jeff Busby or Bill Miesel not have asked Connie the same? Another "Miracle?"

When Bill Kalush gave me a copy of the whole Manuscript, Pages 45 and 47 were missing. To anyone, a coincidence. To me, another of "Moe's Miracles." These pages are the only ones I'd like Miesel to answer to me so I can publish his reply on my web site. I'd like him to acknowledge the misunderstanding of the right to publish and acknowledge the fact that I am the author of Moe's $5.00 Manuscript and Moe's Miracles. The three people who have the other original copies: Arthur Johnston, Jeff Busby, and Al Aldini should cherish the copies they have.

I have been requested to explain in my own words how I would describe each of my tricks. Many writers use terms such as photographic memory" and "phenomenal memory" when describing my tricks. On "Look at a Card" and "Move a Card," I did these numerous ways. "Memory" and "Estimation" would be my description of how I did them. I performed my tricks many times with different memory or estimation procedures and improved my ability to perform them as time went on. It made my recovery methods to bring the tricks to successful conclusions look that much more miraculous.

When they published William P. Miesel on MOE, Miesel and Busby thought that I did not write the original manuscript, the fact that my original manuscript was lost in one of my moves made my authorship difficult to prove until now.

Actually, Frank Lane and I worked together trying to put some of my saleable tricks into words that would be fairly understandable. In the meantime, Frank was reinventing new methods to do some of my tricks. Undoubtedly Frank Lane issued or sold his version in 1932 as his own, after we had finished the write-up of each of the 10 tricks. I did not want to have anything to do with the selling of these because of negative reactions from some people to two of my prior tricks. My reason for stopping my own sales was due to those two tricks that were being panned with the statement, "Moe was selling tricks that nobody but Moe, himself, could do."

Another reason I refused to sell any more of my work was because the tricks were too difficult to explain in writing. Frank and I talked about a Manuscript based on what I wrote to him that was a description for each of my tricks. I am of the opinion Frank wrote his own version and sold copies.

The history of the various publications of "Moe's Miracles," is very cloudy since these tricks have been some of the most copied, modified, reproduced, reworded, renamed, and sold card tricks one can imagine. Some of the magicians who sold or traded these tricks were Arthur Johnson, Frank Lane, Lew Harmon, Dodson, possibly others, and, of course, William Miesel and Jeff Busby. However, the latter two waited fifty years to do it, perhaps for copyright reasons. In any event, I never saw this version before 1997.

I was so happy when I received the copy of the Manuscript that gave me so many kind praises. I read it and thought, "Now I can tell everybody what I did almost 70 years ago!" Here comes the good news: I never expected any compensation, nor do I intend to bring suit for any publication prior to April 1, 2000. I simply want it known that I now have proof positive of being the author of the original manuscript in 1932.

Thanks very much to my friends in magic for bringing me back to life. A very special thanks to Phil Willmarth for the honor of the front cover picture. I figured that out when he sent me a sample of a prior issue with a picture of Herb Zarrow. I will add that to my "Miracle" list. Who could ask for anything more at this time of my life? Thank you.

Also, a special note of thanks to Mark Mitton. Mark is responsible for my connection to The Linking Ring. I did a few tricks for him and he then wrote to me: "I just wanted to write and tell you how amazing it was to see your miracles right before my eyes. Your "Think-a-Card" and "Move-a-card" are as astonishing as I read in the magazine articles about you in the 1930's. How can someone look at a card, cut three times, give the cards to you and you divine their card?? Terrific! What I didn't expect was that you also could do such astounding miracles making numbers appear on my calculator."

This, coming from a young magician about 41 years old, is similar to comments heard 70 years ago! Thank you, Mark!

Bob Kohler recently emailed Moe, saying: "Hi Moe, I just wanted to drop you a short note.  I've been using your "Move a Card Miracle' for over 15 years to fool some of the best magicians around.  I've been a full-time professional in the corporate market for the last 21 years.  I have many memories of 'fooling" the boys' with your effect."


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