It's hard to believe that it has been over fifty years since that night in Grosse Point, Michigan that so changed my life.
I was a young college student, just out of the army, studying psychology under the G.I. Bill at an adult college in Detroit, Michigan. I had mastered the art of hypnotism and in fact was considered one of the leading men in the field.
Working part-time in an Abbotts Magic store and putting on magic shows was a form of income that was not only fun but allowed me to meet a wide range of personalities.
One person, who at his request will remain nameless, was a magician of note and a close personal friend. We had fun trying out new magic tricks and routines on each other. We were very close. Because of our knowledge of the so called "Black Arts", we were aware of all the tricks used by magicians and mediums to ply their art on the unknowing. Two-way transmitters to feed information, pat routines such as "The Devils Own Method" of mind reading, astral projection units and of course the table raising gimmicks etc. The two of us, noticing the rise of fake mediums in the area, decided that it would be fun if we did "Spook De-Bunking". That is to say, we would attend a seance or mediums performance and expose their fakery to the members present. It was a riot. We slipped into homes at the request of a persons mate that felt their partner was being taken for a ride. For this we had the satisfaction of setting things right,.....but no money.
Then one day after a magic show at the old Schubert Theatre in downtown Detroit, I was approached by a very nice elderly lady who asked if we would put on a show for a few of her friends at her home in swank Grosse Point Farms, a wealthy suburb of Detroit. She said that we could use any gimmicks or tricks we wanted and she would pay us $100.00. (That was a lot of money to a college student in the 40's).
I asked my partner and he said "sure, let's go for it". We rounded up as much paraphernalia as we could from the magic store and planned a really scary show for them.
Our plan included getting as much information as the host lady could gather about the persons who would be in attendance. (No self-respecting medium would go in without it). Finally the night arrived. We had agreed that my partner would handle the mechanical and voice parts and I would take the part of the medium at the table with the guests. My partner planned to wait in his car down the block until all of the guests were in the house and ready for the seance. He would then enter the kitchen by the back door and connect his microphone and recorders into the speaker system I had installed and concealed in the room and set up a projector.
I was introduced as "Sregna The Gifted" (my last name spelled backward), and we all took our places at the table. The table had been previously rigged to emit a hanging cloud of 'magic' smoke that would hover over the table for several minutes. This cloud was used as a sort of projection screen to receive images of light from a projector controlled by my partner, in short a sort of astral vision effect.
We all joined hands and I began my mumbo jumbo. I could feel a slight tremble in the hand I was holding. This was just what I needed. I became quite confident. I called upon the spirits to come forth and make themselves known. A few eerie sounds preceded a voice saying that he was the departed husband of one of the guests. A mist formed, as planned, over the table and a likeness of the person was seen. There were a few shudders and ooh's and ah's. She asked her husband questions and he answered. (Very well I thought considering the information we were given) This scene was repeated for several of the ladies. It was an eerie success.
When the seance came to a close. The ladies left, each with their memories. They had had quite a show. The lady that hired us wrote me a check and thanked me for a wonderful evening. I then went into the kitchen to help my partner disconnect his equipment and pack up. When I reached the kitchen I was unable to locate my partner or his equipment. Then I heard a pounding on the kitchen door. It was my partner. He said when he tried to get in someone had apparently locked the door. He said he was sorry and asked if he missed anything.
I may never know what really happened that night, but I can assure you, I have not played with the supernatural since!