Page 5                                             Summer 1987

Founding of the IJA

Pittsburgh , Tuesday, June 17, 1947


The weather was partly cloudy and a little breezy, a cool 70 degrees.  America was shaking off the post-war blues and fighting recession.


An eleven-room manor estate with shore front could be had for $35,000, and a cruise to Havana was $299.50 - just two quality cigars under three C-notes. For the hoi-polloi, a new Chevy went for $1825. Haircuts were a buck, men's slacks were $13.75. Women's dresses were in the $9.00 range.


Despite record supplies of meat, price gouging was evident, with choice cuts rising above a dollar a pound. The Democrats decried the Republicans for ending price controls, calling them the "Vegetarian Party."                                .


Thor Hierdahl's raft, Kon Tiki, was half-way on its calculated drift to the Marquesas Islands. The whole country was spotting UFO's. Tracy and Hepburn were playing in "Sea of Grass," Joan Crawford in "Possessed," Edward G. was snarling in "The Red Horse," and Dick Powell was Johnny O'Clock.


The news as ever was grim. A wool tariff was being pushed through Congress amid cries of isolationism. The Allies and Russia were arguing over the reconstruction of Europe, freezing the Cold War. Newspapers reported continuing attacks by Israeli terrorists as the U.N. held a special session on the question of Palestine, which the Arabs boycotted, saying they already knew whose homeland it was. Left unreported in the white press was the wave of terror and slaughter of blacks sweeping the south as the Ku Klux Klan went on trial and an anti-lynching bill was debated in Congress.


Amid the backdrop of these events, jugglers made their way to the stylish William Penn Hotel on Grant Street in Pittsburgh for a juggling session under the auspices of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.


During the afternoon of the first day they drifted in, registered and found their rooms. Despite the difficulty of finding each other in the great crowd of magicians, they began bumping into old friends and introducing themselves to strangers they found carrying balls or clubs. Several got together for juggling session in the empty ballroom before dinner. After a disappointing magic show in the evening, in which Art Jennings's comedy was the high point, most of the jugglers ended up at Thompson's restaurant around the corner. They pulled four tables together and shot the breeze until four in the morning.

IJA founders

ON STAGE (l-r) Joe Fleckenstein, Jack Greene, George Barvinchak, Vin Carey, Harry Lind, Teddy Ray, Earl Gottberg.  ON FLOOR: George Lurch, Roger Montandon, Floyd Dunham, Bernard Joyce, Bobby Jule, Chiesa Brothers (2), Eddy Johnson, Clem Faust, James Reynolds, John Loksa.

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