Earlier this month, I and a friend went off on a writing retreat for a weekend. It was glorious. We stayed in a “hermitage” in the woods, facing a meadow full of butterflies. I got an immense amount of work done and she got inspired on some projects she’d put aside. Both of us felt recharged.
Martha and I have been friends for a long time. In high school, we wrote a novel together — and somehow our friendship survived the process. We’ve published each other’s work over the years. We’ve collaborated on short stories. She’s my first reader. I adore her imagination and am awe of the way she captures characters.
One of the best things about our friendship is that she lets me drag her off on my cemetery excursions. Reasonably near our retreat was the Lakeside Cemetery of Colon, Michigan. Deep in the heart of Michigan’s Amish country, Colon is “the world capital of magical illusion,” according to Weird Michigan: Your Travel Guide to Michigan’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets.
The cemetery has a collection of stage magicians buried in it. The best known are the Blackstones (senior, junior, and the third), but I liked the grave of Ricki Dunn, whose epitaph proclaims, “Ricki Dunn was a thief.”
I haven’t found any video of him performing yet, but here’s a slideshow of photos of him: http://www.rickidunn.com/slideshow.html
He wrote the book on pickpocketing: The Professional Stage Pickpocket.
Here’s one of his tricks, performed by one of his friends:
I’ll write more about the cemetery tomorrow, but I can’t wait to investigate the other characters buried there.