COLUMBIANA — When Howard Niland Herbkersman accomplished his service with the U.S. Military in 1947 he determined to place his G.I. Invoice towards one thing a bit extra uncommon — studying magic.
Herbkersman was drafted in 1945, simply after graduating from Columbiana Excessive College. He spent two years in occupied Germany.
“I noticed Germany bombed out fully. Cities had been simply in wreck,” he recollects.
When he returned to the states, as an alternative of pursuing a level by way of a state college or school utilizing cash by way of the G.I. Invoice of Rights, he selected to enroll within the Chavez School of Guide Dexterity and Prestidigation in Los Angeles.
Chavez was the primary and solely faculty of magic approved to enroll college students below the G.I. Invoice.
Herbkersman — who was then 20 years previous and nonetheless single — spent 5 hours a day for 9 months studying card manipulation and sleight of hand.
“They had been excellent, they’d nice instructors,” he mentioned.
The education was anyplace from $3,000 to $4,000 for the course, and Herbkersman was glad to have the price lined by way of the G.I. Invoice.
His first skilled present was on the Columbiana Road Truthful within the 1950s.
“I had good crowds at each present. Again in these days I didn’t cost a lot cash in any respect to get in. I gave away lots of bunnies,” he mentioned.
When he married, his spouse Sarah would function his assistant. Their kids, June McLaughlin and Neil Foster, would additionally assist out by way of the years.
In truth, Herbkersman helped educate McLaughlin the artwork of ventriloquism, which she does professionally.
“We grew up round this… it was enjoyable rising up, it actually was,” McLaughlin, who lives in Lake Tomahawk, mentioned.
Herbkersman is a lifetime member of each The Worldwide Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 2 of Youngstown and Fellowship of Christian Magicians.
He carried out greater than 5,000 reveals largely all through Ohio and Pennsylvania, with a number of reveals in West Virginia over time.
“I didn’t have an agent. I used to be elevating a household, and I believed they had been extra essential. All of my reveals, 99 p.c of them got here from individuals by way of phrase of mouth,” he mentioned.
Now 91 years previous, Herbkersman retired from magic 10 years in the past and lately donated his instrument equipment of magic to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Mich.
The equipment is already on show on the museum and consists of make-up, cash, billiard balls, and a deck of playing cards, together with different gimmicks.
“It was a fantastic honor to have that put into the museum,” McLaughlin mentioned.
Herbkersman and his spouse Sarah nonetheless stay in Columbiana.
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