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News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current


Historically Speaking: The night one magic master met another

Oceanside original Jack White traded card tricks with Muhammed Ali
Jack White, who grew up in Oceanside, is among San Diego’s noteworthy broadcasters, having worked for KGTV Channel 10 for more than three decades. (Courtesy photo)

Back in 1985 when I was in charge of publicity and historical archives at the venerable Hotel del Coronado, I had a somewhat unplanned event occur that had historic impact and importance.

I had invited San Diego television newsman Jack White to review the posh dinner menu at the hotel’s high-end Prince of Wales Grill, where a steak cost more than 25 bucks an entree — a lot of money at that time.

Now, for those who don’t know it, the late KGTV Channel 10 news anchor not only was a class act as a news reporter, but he was a master magician as well. Over the years, I watched him mesmerize audiences with his sleight-of-hand card and coin tricks as well as other awe-inspiring stage maneuvers.

Jack was a one-of-a-kind newsman and entertainer. He mostly was self-taught with much of his grounding growing up in Oceanside and beginning his career as a newsman with Armed Forces Radio Network while serving in the U.S. Army. He was with Channel 10 for more than 34 years.

That evening, as Jack was in the middle of his prime-rib steak and lobster dinner, an entourage of six men walked in and sat around a huge table over in the corner of the room across from where Jack and I sat. In the middle of the group was former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammed Ali. And, for those who don’t know it, Ali also was a master sleight-of-hand expert in his own right.

Historically Speaking by Tom MorrowI pointed out the recent arrival to Jack. And he responded as I knew he would. After completing his meal and skipping dessert, Jack walked over to The Champ’s entourage and introduced himself.

After a few minutes of pleasantries, the subject of magic entered the conversation. Ali smiled and began playing with a coin. After making it disappear and reappear, Jack countered by taking out a deck of playing cards, which he often carried in his coat jacket pocket just in case such an opportunity presented itself.

Jack began shuffling and doing a variety of card tricks. Ali asked to borrow the deck, responding to Jack’s maneuvers with some of his own. The evening was a classic presentation of one magic master meeting another. While this was going on, Jack’s Channel 10 cameraman was shooting the action with his video camera.

The next day, Jack’s restaurant review of the Prince of Wales Grill on Channel 10 included the meeting with The Champ trading tricks of the trade with San Diego’s resident magician.

Jack was widely recognized, once serving on the board of directors for the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He grew up in San Diego’s North County and was a 1957 graduate of Oceanside High School. We lost him in 2020 at the age of 81 after a long illness that confined him to a wheelchair for the last several years of his life. Jack White was a character of local history not soon forgotten.

Hopefully, the news archivist down at KGTV Channel 10 has preserved Jack’s 1985 evening at the Hotel Del Coronado as a bit of “magic” for our future generations. It was, indeed, a piece of classic video history.

What, me worry?

California has an overwhelming percentage of students not graduating from high school, and many of those who do graduate college are being tutored in questionable socialistic principles … who could turn down “free stuff?”

When our basic civics and history are glazed over or not taught at all, can we be surprised if we end up with a generation of an ignorant populace? The average adult under 50 years of age doesn’t know about the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, or who won World War II, or worse yet, what our three bodies of government in Washington, D.C., are, or their functions. We have a problem — a big problem.

Inquiring minds

While studying Roman Empire history or watching an old Hollywood flick, you might be among the many wanting to know what SPQR stands for. It’s the abbreviation for Senatus PopulusQue Romanus, or the Senate and the Roman People. It is an emblematic phrase referring to the government of the Roman Republic. It appears on documents made public to this day by an inscription in stone or metal, in dedications of monuments and public works, and on some Roman currency.

Signs once seen

In a restaurant window: “Don’t stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.”
In the front yard of a funeral home: “Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”
At a propane filling station: “Thank Heaven for little grills.”
In a Chicago radiator shop: “Best place in town to take a leak.”
And the best one for last … on the back of a septic tank truck: “Caution — This truck is full of Political Promises.”

Truism spoken here

“Beauty never lasts, but stupid does!” – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.

Tom Morrow is a longtime Oceanside-based journalist and author.

Columns represent the views of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the North Coast Current’s ownership or management.

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