In memory of John Henry "Harry"
From Bart Whaley's Who's Who In Magic & Magicol, No. 172, August, 2009
Harry Opel was born in Limestone, New York on 29 Jan 1883. About
1900 he became a professional stage magician and juggler. He toured the USA
in vaudeville, fairs, and theaters. Then for several years gave mainly full-evening
shows. Although he originally toured year round, his wife's health suffered
in cold weather, so in 1911 he starred working in the fresh fruit department
of Tiedrke's, a Toledo meat and produce market, during the winters. He left
each April to go on tour with the Opel Novelty Company, playing small towns
with magicand juggling, and would return to the store each November. His wife,
Blanche, did not tour with him after the mid-'20s and remained in Toledo,
as he took out his "suitcase circus." In the '30s he apparently
confined his performing to the Toledo area. He worked at Tiedtke's into his
seventies and was an attraction at the store with his juggling of oranges
and other produce. As he and Blanche always lived simply in a furnished room
in a private residence, all of his magical friends met him at the store. He
was also a poet and contributed numerous poems to various magical periodicals,
including Tops, The Linking Ring, and a great number to Vernon
magicians' magazine, The Dragon.
He edited the unique The Voice from the Attic 1929-52 (46+ issues; repr 1982-83 by Bruce Dunn) & Fax 1939 (12 issues), each issue of both being a single handwritten copy sent to different friends. [Jinx#30]. The Voice from the Attic was a hand-drawn, hand-lettered periodical with occasional pasted-in pieces from newspapers and the like, which consisted of only one copy per month, each issue sent to a different person. Opel explained the odd title in the following way (with slight variations) in each Issue: [It wasstarted] after a dispute with the editor [A. M. Wilson] of a magic magazine [The Sphinx] who challenged me to write an article on the harm amateur magicians were doing to magic in certain lines, then he broke his word and would not publish it, and when called to task he put in his paper, "I understand he works in a store during the winter months and gets his mail at General Delivery so I presume he lives in an attic." Opel was, like the periodical itself, charming and eccentric.
He died on 11 Mar 1955.