One of the hardest things to do is say goodbye to an old friend. I had to do that this morning to Nick DePalma. When I started The Trickery Bob Solari introduced me to Nick. Nick used to build magic props for Tannen’s in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He grew up with Bob’s father and was a close friend of Bob’s family. Nick could build some pretty amazing props all by hand. He was the first wood worker we employed to fabricate some of our exclusive pieces.Nick was a big guy with a very loud gruff voice who had a great sense of humor. He was always there for personal things as well, like helping me install a sink in a newly remodeled bathroom in our West Milford house.
Nick was one of the cheapest bastards that you could ever meet! I say that with love and deep respect! Bob took me to Nick’s house to meet Nick for the first time. He had a bunch of very cool props laid out on his dining room table, most of which I’ve never seen before. He told me what they did and then told me the price for each trick. I was very impressed and purchased several of each. I was very excited. It was a cash sale that totaled about $700.00. We loaded the car and talked for a while outside. Nick told me he forgot to show me a piece he had. He put in my hand a collectible Nickel to Penny to Dime box made from walnut woods. I needed to borrow a real dime to try out the piece. Nick gave me a dime and I performed the trick. I asked how much he wanted and he told me $18.00. “Fine! I’ll take 3 of them to start!” Another $54.00 in cash and I was on my way back to the car. In case you weren’t following, that was $754.00 in cash the first time I met Nick! As I reached the car Nick called out to me. “Howie! Hey, Howie! You’ve got my dime!”
Nick used to build a neat piece called Wizard of Od. He would come by the studio with merchandise that I would almost always purchase with cash. These were expensive pieces that retail close to $300! After purchasing them, Nick removed the batteries from each unit. I asked him, “Nick! What the hell are you doing!” He replied, “Batteries not included!” HE WAS SERIOUS!
I wanted to share just a couple of stories about Nick. With all the silliness, there was a father-like quality about Nick that you couldn’t help but love. As I write this last sentence the phone is ringing. It’s Bob on the other end. Nick died a few minutes ago.
Journey well old friend…journey well.