Oct 3, 2023

The Magic Of Allentown

We who grew up in Allentown during the 50's know that Hess's was a magical place, but did you know that Hess's actually sold magic. The advertisement shown above is from 1941.

By 1915, Allentown sported the Willard Magic Shop on Allen Street. In the 1940's Allentown's own Houdini, Harry Beehrle, started his shop on Hamilton near 4th. Later, after a wave of urban renewal, he would move to 9th and Linden Streets.

I remember Arthur Neimeyer's Fun shop on 9th Street. It was on the corner, below ground level. As I got older, into jr. high school, I rarely went to Neimeyer's, because he really didn't carry club or stage props, no apparatus actually, just the little S.S. Adams & the Robbins' E-Z Magic line, of basically packet magic and/or gag items. So, for magic, there was only one shop at that time (the 1950's) and that was Harry Beehrle's Magic shop, downtown on Hamilton, just up from the train station....... Harry was a gruff curmudgeon type, not kid friendly at all. In his youth he had been an escape artist, Allentown's "Houdini" and there were photos in the shop of him as a young man hanging upside down doing the straitjacket escape, etc., etc. That was where I purchased all my U.F. Grant magic and such. By the time I was in high school, Harry was either ill or had died, ........ I can't remember which, and his daughter was running the shop. notes from a former Allentonian and magician.

In the mid 80's Jim Karol sold magic from his home on Front Street. Years later, Ed White would continue the tradition from his home shop.

reprinted from March of 2020

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