Archive for March, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2013 by hocuspoc

This week we set about moving some of the items around in the showroom, and one thing turned into another. Before we knew it, a 2-hour project had turned into four days of a redesign of the showroom.

We’ll be re-shooting an updated version of the online virtual tour.  Look for it in the next several weeks.

Our Chinese section of the re-design.

Our Chinese section of the re-design.

Yesterday Betty and I headed out early to see about an estate of magic paraphernalia.  I couldn’t resist, I took the whole kit and caboodle and headed back to Fresno after a relaxing lunch with Betty.

In the collection was an Abbott’s Frame of Life or Death. It is a prop I’d seen and wanted for many years as a kid. It was very expensive, so I just had to settle for dreaming about having it in my show.

The picture from the Abbott catalog.

The picture from the Abbott catalog.

Sadly, Abbott’s Frame of Life or Death was only here at Hocus Pocus for about an HOUR before it was purchased, so we snapped a quick picture of it before it shipped out.

One hour later is was being shipped to a collector.

One hour later is was being shipped to a collector.

The blog is short this week as we’re still sifting, sorting and placing things in the showroom as well as prepari9ng for the upcoming Magic Castle Swap Meet on Saturday, April 13th.

We will announce the winner of the Name-the-Elephant Contest on next week’s blog.

If you haven’t voted, you can still vote for your favorite name for the Hocus Pocus Pachyderm until next Thursday, April 4th.

We’ve been very fortunate here in Fresno to be having very cool Spring weather, and it’s predicted to be a mild weekend – perfect for celebrating with family.

If you celebrate Easter, be sure and have a wonderful Easter Holiday.

Happy Easter from Hocus Pocus!

Happy Easter from Hocus Pocus!

Otherwise, have yourself a very relaxing weekend.

Until next time.


What’s in a Name

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2013 by hocuspoc

Patrick Snowden has finally put the finishing touches on our pachyderm. He even added darker black paint to accentuate his ears and trunk to make him appear more life-like.

I am so happy to have this elephant in my possession after coveting it for SO long. It’s funny how I eventually end up with so many things I’ve desired. It’s always just a matter of waiting it out.

It’s painted up and ready to impress those lucky visitors that happen to visit our warehouse.


The difference from when he first came is night-and-day.

And the Winner is…

Now we begin our voting process in order to find a name for the guy. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’ve received over 100 names from various submissions, and some of them have been very humorous.

With the help of some of the staff, we selected the Top Ten Elephant Names based on all that were sent to us. The results of the poll will be posted the first week of April as well as the name of the lucky winner of the $100.


He almost looks menacing.

The winner will receive a store credit towards the purchase an anything they desire.

So getting ready to vote on the name you suspect will be the best choice for the Hocus Pocus Pachyderm. You can only vote ONCE, so choose wisely.

It’s a Good Sign

In other business, we mounted the new Hocus Pocus sign on the outside of our building and it looks really impressive. Patrick Snowden created the sign from scratch, coming a few hours over several weeks to complete it.

Ready to be put into place.

Ready to be put into place.

Early last Saturday morning, after constructing scaffolding, the men went to work right away putting the sign in place. The pictures can’t possibly depict how cumbersome and weighty the sign really is, but considering there were only TWO guys, I think they did a great job in a relatively short amount of time.


We hung it plenty high so all can clearly see it.

We’ve been LONG overdue for a new sign.


Glad these guys know what they’re doing.

The old one had traveled with us from two of our previous locations, so it had been in service beyond its years.


It looks great…don’t you think?

We’re very happy with the look of the new sign and think that Patrick did a phenomenal job.

Thanks Patrick!

The weather has been so beautiful that I’m sure I’ll spend most of the weekend in the yard.  Hope you too are planning on having yourself a very enjoyable weekend.

Until next time.


The Elephant is STILL in the Room

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2013 by hocuspoc

As you may know from last week’s blog, we have a new mascot of sorts, an unnamed Elephant.

Patrick Snowden has come for a few hours to paint the pachyderm to a more realistic grey. As you can see by the photos, it a VERY large subject to cover in just a few short hours.  But, Patrick is doing a fine job and soon our elephant will be ready for prime time.

This is called Elephant Painting

This is called Tusk Drying as part of the Paint-the-Elephant task.

However, he must be named. We can’t have a no-name Elephant.

After all, this is show biz!

Tusks being painted to be more realistic.

Tusks being painted to be more realistic.

And again, I repeat from last week — “that’s where YOU come in.” As a proper incentive, Hocus Pocus is offering a $100 gift prize to the person that comes up with the BEST name for our Hocus Pocus Pachyderm.

The winner will receive a store credit towards the purchase an anything they desire.

Painting the beast's eye.

Painting the beast’s eye.

We’ve received over 100 names from various submissions in the Name-the-Elephant contest.

At month’s end, we will post a poll on this blog of the Top Ten Elephants Names, based on the submissions received. Yes, we’ll be giving you a chance to assist us in finalizing the very BEST name by voting via poll.

In the meantime, please send your elephant names to We’ll announce the winner after the voting from the poll has been concluded.

$100 Gift Certificate goes to the Winner of the Name-the-Elephant Contest.

$100 Gift Certificate goes to the Winner of the Name-the-Elephant Contest.

Another bit of excitement occurred when Miss Electra arrived this week. I’ve been waiting for her. Sounds a bit racy but it’s not. Miss Electra is a sideshow poster I procured. I do have the perfect place for here in the warehouse. She’ll but up before you know it.

She arrived in all her glory!

She arrived in all her glory!

My son Max came in today with a gift for me, a new metal sign emblazoned with our new Hocus Pocus logo on it.

It was completely unexpected and very much appreciated.  I love it!

Max's gift, our new logo in metal!

Max’s gift, our new logo in metal!

Betty and I are on the way out of town…we’ll be stopping by a few choice nurseries. After all, it’s Spring. Time to start gardening and planting.

Until next time.


The Elephant in the Room

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2013 by hocuspoc

Well, it happened again.

We got a call yesterday morning for a collection of magic from a magician who’s decided to hang up his top hat from performing.

So, we quickly rented a truck and sent Tim on his way, five hours north of us, to retrieve whatever goodies were contained in a vast array of props collected over the many years of a performing magician’s repertoire. After two hours loading the truck, he turned around and headed back south to Fresno, getting in late last night.

It’s the way we roll around here.

Paul unpacking some the treasures.

Paul unpacking some the treasures.

This  morning we were busy unpacking all the books, props, equipment and paraphernalia from this gentleman’s fifty years of performing. We’ll be putting his items up over the next several weeks.

Let’s Talk

Meanwhile, I been avoiding talking about the elephant in the room. Yes, we actually do have an elephant in the room!

Years ago, I saw a large fiberglass elephant in front of a car dealership on Highway 99 and stopped to inquire if I could purchase it, only to be promptly turned down.  I was so disappointed.

This unnamed pachyderm arrived this week.

This unnamed pachyderm arrived this week.

Little did I know that that elephant belonged to Bobby Reynolds, the world’s greatest Showman, and world class pitchman, who lives near Fresno. In fact, Bobby had three of them at one time, and this particular one served as his mailbox. The mailman would insert letters into the elephant’s mouth, and they were retrieved through a door in its belly.

I can only imagine what a sight that must have been for passersby – the mailman feeding letters to an elephant!

Bobby Reynolds

Bobby Reynolds

Bobby comes into the shop from time-to-time and we got to taking and the elephant came up, and now it’s mine! I love him because he works for peanuts.

Name the Elephant and Win!

We haven’t named it though — that’s where YOU come in.  We’re offering a $100 gift-certificate to the person that comes up with the BEST name for our Hocus Pocus Pachyderm.

one-hundred-100-dollar-billPlease send your elephant names to We’ll announce the winner at the end of the month.

And to get some of your creative juices flowing, here are some elephant jokes:

Elephant Jokes

Q: How can you tell that an elephant has been in your fridge?
A: By the footprints in the butter.

Q: Why did the elephant cross the road?
A: Chicken’s day off.

Q: What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?
A: Time to build a new fence.

Q: What’s grey, yellow, grey, yellow, grey, yellow, grey, yellow, grey, yellow, grey, yellow?
A: An elephant rolling down a hill with a daisy in its mouth!

Q: What do you call an elephant wearing pink earmuffs and a dress?
A: Anything you want, it can’t hear you.

Q: Why do elephants drink so much?
A: To try to forget.

Please vote for your FAVORITE elephant joke. Choose wisely as you can only vote for ONE.

We really do have a great time around here.

Until next time my friends,


Today was My Day!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2013 by hocuspoc
Devin Knight

Devin Knight

With so much going on this week, it looking like this blog entry will be a short one.

You just never know who’s going to stop in. Today, Devin Knight stopped by the shop to finally see it. He’d never been in before and he was on his way to Las Vegas to lecture, so he made us one of his stops.

It was a short visit, but I’m glad he came by. I have been carrying Devin’s effects for years, so it was great to finally meet him in person.

Devin Knight is regarded as one of magic’s most prolific inventors. He is also a highly sought after lecturer for both magicians and mentalists. Most of his effects are run-away best sellers and have received rave reviews. Devin was a protégé of the late Al Mann and currently works as a full-time magician and mentalist.

Paul Gross & Devin Knight

Paul Gross & Devin Knight

What I like about Devin’s effects is that they not only fool magicians, but at the same time are easy to do. The majority of his effects rely more on clever ideas, rather than difficult sleights. This puts most of his effects within the skill range of most magicians.

Naman's Animal Band

Naman’s Animal Band

More Sam Naman Pieces from the Big Fresno Fair

You may recall on a previous blog that I talked about finding several Sam Naman mechanized figures. Naman created animated figures and settings for the Big Fresno Fair, and Betty and I recall them fondly from our childhoods.

When we discovered two of them them in a thriftstore, we were elated to get the chance to own them. We ended up purchasing a total of three pieces since Tim found a third one with a few days later in another store for collectibles.

Well here’s the update. Last week, a friend and antiques dealer called me to let me know he had discovered several others in great shape. He said the set contained the Animal Band, which is one of the animated displays I recall seeing as a kid and really wanted to own.

Today Max and a friend pick them up and delivered them here. Needless to say I am very excited to practically have my own Sam Naman Museum of Automated Exhibits housed here at the shop.

The boys unloading The Animal Band.

The boys unloading The Animal Band.

Sam Naman’s handmade mechanized figures posed in scenes of life were popular attractions in the Commerce and Industry building.

From 1948-1975, no visitor to the Fair would consider going home without seeing what Naman had dreamed up for his much-anticipated yearly exhibition.

The motors and all the animals still work!

The motors and all the animals still work!

The animated displays always caught a moment of history; the handmade mechanized figures were posed in scenes of life in the 1800s.  For his displays, Naman dressed mannequins in costumes and used smaller-type motors to make them move. In 1958, he used 13 motors to drive the figures in a 1890’s wedding scene, including a bride cutting the cake, a figure playing the organ and a man mixing punch.

Talk about personality!

Talk about personality!

The displays were a hobby for Naman. After working for a dried-fruit packing business, Naman started the Santa Lucia Winery in 1933. He became the public-relations director for Valley Motor Lines in 1948.

A Magic the magic ball!

A Magic Bear…watch the magic ball!

Naman’s son, William, often helped him build the figures and displays, which consistently won top awards. “I’ve collected so many trophies I don’t know what to do with them,” Naman said in the 1950s.

A helicopter made of papier-mâché.

A helicopter made of papier-mâché.

Before Naman died in 1978 at age 85 he sold all his displays to Fresno businessman and historian Frank Caglia. The collection filled a 6,000-square-foot warehouse.

About 40 of Naman’s figures made a return appearance at the 1984 Big Fresno Fair.


As you might guess, in subsequent years, they must have dispersed the collection and that’s how several of them have come into my possession.

I’m thrilled to own them and know they will have a good home here at Hocus Pocus.

Didn’t I say this was going to be a short blog entry.

Have a great weekend my friends,