It was a most unlikey place. Standing next to a long row of bicycles after a pie eating benefit for a local charity, I was introduced to a woman, about my age, with a strong Long Island accent and a wonderful sense of gab. In fact, you can’t stop her from talking and sharing wonderful stories and that’s why Susan grabbed her by the arm and brought her immediately over to share a special story and introduced me to Heather.
Heather was relating how her great uncle looked exactly like a young Harry Houdini. I’m not sure how many people today even know what Houdini looked like, let alone a “young” Houdini but she obviously did. In fact, her great uncle was Houdini’s nephew and her family not only heard stories through the family tree but she and her brother studied the literature on the fascinating performer. She shared with me several of her grandmother’s remembrances of Houdini but I’ll save those for another story.
Heather also mentioned that her family still lived in Long Island after emigrating from Hungary just after WWI, just like my family. Both my fraternal grandparents settled in New York before moving to the Midwest. Both were Hungarian from the region of Transylvania which I was deeply feared as a child. But that’s another story.
She also mentioned that although no longer practicing, her family was Jewish. Even though I wasn’t raised Jewish, my father’s blood brother is Jewish. They both disagree on just about everything of their childhood religious memories. One says Christian, one says Jewish. But that’s another story.
And then she socked it to me. Her family name is the same as my father’s real family name. A name I’ve never met another. Wait a second. Could Heather and I really be related through some distant genetic cauldron?
So it seems not only do I have a new cousin but I may be distantly related to Houdini. And even though the facts seem to point in that direction, even if it’s not true, I have a new friend who knows loads on magic history that I don’t. But I’ll leave that for another story.