Friday, August 28, 2015

Sunday in Appleton

Writer’s Police Academy was great and I got a lot of nice details to put in my books. Just a hint. Molly Pink always seems to be almost getting arrested and I’ve had her handcuffed to a bench in the police station without exactly knowing what they look like. Not anymore. I saw the real thing and sat on it.

I also enjoyed the time I spent in Appleton, Wisconsin. It was a little like stepping back in time. No all night television Saturday night/Sunday morning, at least on the ABC station. And almost all of the stores and restaurants on the downtown street were closed on Sunday. The hotel gift shop and coffee spot both closed at 11 a.m. on Sunday. I haven’t seen that since I was a kid in Chicago.

In the meantime I’d found out that Houdini considered Appleton his home town. I had time to kill Sunday afternoon since my plane wasn’t until the evening and when I saw a listing on a town map that there was a Houdini center and one of my character is a magician, it seemed like a perfect fit.

The Houdini center ended up being an exhibit in the Appleton history museum and it was open on Sunday. I found out that he was born in Budapest and his name was Erik Weisz. The family came to Appleton because his father was Rabbi of the local temple. Most of the exhibit was devoted to his illusions and explained how he did a number of them. I know from the magic class I took and the tricks I right for my character The Amazing Dr. Sammy, that what seems impossible when you see it, seems very obvious when you look behind the curtain.

By the way this bust of Houdini is supposed to be haunted, though I didn't notice any ghostly apparitions when I was there.

While in the museum I found out that Edna Ferber also came from Appleton and actually belonged to the temple Houdini’s father was the Rabbi of. In case you’re not familiar with her, she wrote books like Giant, So Big, Saratoga Trunk and some others. A number of them were made into movies. I remember them being on my high school reading list. The museum called it an exhibit, but it was really a glass case with a couple of old type writers, her picture and some books. She had an interesting life starting out as a newspaper reporter and ended up in a literary circle in New York.

There was a small gift shop and I bought Saratoga Trunk, since I don’t think I’ve read it and it seemed like a nice souvenir. I also bought a magic trick that would be perfect for the Amazing Dr. Sammy to carry in his pocket. The building the museum is in is called the Castle and at one time belonged to the Masonic Temple.

My Sunday adventure made a nice close to the weekend.


Linda O. Johnston said...

I've barely heard of Appleton, Betty, yet it seems to have so many wonderful things about it! Glad to hear you had a good trip--as well as learning helpful stuff at the Writers Police Academy.

Planner said...

I think the Worry Doll was sitting on the bench and handcuffed to the bar, but Houdini's ghost helped her get away right before you snapped the photo. Perhaps you didn't notice! :-)

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, It was a great weekend. I am already looking forward to next year.

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, yup that's exactly what happened ;-)

Miriam Lubet said...

I always like to buy a book by a local author of the cities I visit.

Betty Hechtman said...

Miriam, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who buys literary souvenirs.