One day, on a popular internet magic source, I overheard someone threaten to tell the story of "Senator" Crandall and the tin pear. I bit, and asked to be told the story. After the convulsions stopped, I requested permission to put the story here at the Mildew Archive. The response:
"Sure, go ahead and put it in your archive, but don't credit it to me... just put it in as a contribution from a friend. The Senator told the story in a very light-hearted and off the cuff fashion, and I wasn't sure if he was telling the truth or a whopper. It could have been a combination of both, and I am sure I don't have it all...
"There were only a few people around when he told that "story," and though we laughed our asses off, I am sure there was a LOT more to it than I remember. I have no idea how many times or where else he would have told that story, and I am sure that there is someone who will eventually see it and be able to add the missing bits."
"Senator" Crandall was a rather direct humorist, and as you might also know, he did not think highly of the advertising hype that surrounded the sale of magic though magic shops.
Here is the story he told as a case in point. Don't take this as a verbatum transcript, since it has been almost 30 years since I heard this. But the most important points are all here:
"I had signed up for the Tarbell Course, because you were guarenteed to learn the great secrets of magic from a master magician. You would get a box every month, and it would, I believed, contain the magic of the ages, certain to mystify and amuse, just like the ad said.
"The first box I got contained a small magazine like booklet that had a grinning master magician in a tux wearing a turban on the cover, and a goddamn black tin pear with a hole in the bottom, a rubber band where the stem should have been, and a safety pin attached to the rubber band opposite to the tin pear. What the hell does a goddamn tin pear with a hole in the bottom attached to a rubber band have to do with making ladies float or be painlessly cut in two? Where were my great secrets to the mysteries of of magic? What the hell was going on?
"Well, I looked in the booklet, and found out that I needed a coat. So I got one, and fastened the safety pin end of the rubber band to the lining of the coat, just like the grinning boob with the the towel on his head said to do. I put the coat on, and was now prepared to perform one of the most amazing mysteries of magic.
"I was going to make a kleenex vanish.
"I carefully found an unused kleenex, put the tin pear in my left fist, bottom side up, just like the smiling idiot in the little magazine said to do, poked the kleenex into the tin pear's bottom opening with my right forefinger, and let go.
"The goddamn tin pear shot around to the back of me with so much force that it slapped me right on the crack of my ass, and, unknown to me, deposited the kleenex tightly in that crack. The pear then continued up under my coat and up until it lodged between my shoulder blades, making me look like a hunchback.
"I now knew why the bastard on the booklet was grinning. He knew that I was gonna slap myself on the ass with his stupid goddamn tin pear.
"When I retrieved the pear from my back, I was astonished. The kleenex really had vanished!!
"My first thought was 'How do you get someone from the audience to come up on stage, put on the coat, let the pear slap them on the ass, and then dig it out so they can see that the kleenex has vanished?'
"My second thought was that if it was a large audience, it would take a long time for everyone to get to see the kleenex vanish from the inside of the tin pear.
"My thoughts about the problems of performance of this mystery of professional magic for large audiences were interrupted by the discovery where the kleenex really was. I immediately threw the goddamn black tin pear in the trash.
"I could not believe that anyone would want to embarrass themselves by letting a goddamn black tin pear shove kleenex up their ass and then try to call it magic, let alone do it in public."