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 Faculty. He spent two years in occupied Germany.
“I noticed Germany bombed out fully. Cities had been simply in spoil,” he remembers.
When he returned to the states, as an alternative of pursuing a level via a state college or school utilizing cash via the G.I. Invoice of Rights, he selected to enroll within the Chavez Faculty of Handbook Dexterity and Prestidigation in Los Angeles.
Chavez was the primary and solely college of magic licensed to enroll college students below the G.I. Invoice.
Herbkersman — who was then 20 years outdated and nonetheless single — spent 5 hours a day for 9 months studying card manipulation and sleight of hand.
“They had been excellent, that they had nice instructors,” he stated.
The education was wherever from $3,000 to $4,000 for the course, and Herbkersman was glad to have the fee lined via the G.I. Invoice.
His first skilled present was on the Columbiana Road Honest 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 plenty of bunnies,” he stated.
When he married, his spouse Sarah would function his assistant. Their youngsters, June McLaughlin and Neil Foster, would additionally assist out via the years.
The truth is, Herbkersman helped train 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, stated.
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 exhibits largely all through Ohio and Pennsylvania, with a couple of exhibits in West Virginia over time.
“I didn’t have an agent. I used to be elevating a household, and I assumed they had been extra essential. All of my exhibits, 99 p.c of them got here from individuals via phrase of mouth,” he stated.
Now 91 years outdated, Herbkersman retired from magic 10 years in the past and just lately donated his device package of magic to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Mich.
The package 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 an awesome honor to have that put into the museum,” McLaughlin stated.
Herbkersman and his spouse Sarah nonetheless dwell in Columbiana.