SPRINGFIELD – For years he combined magic with his police officer duties in Springfield.
Now, the retired Hermann Carr and his wife and assistant, Marcia, spend their free time taking magic to the masses.
Hermann Carr was born in Cable and lived in Urbana for a few years before moving to Springfield. He retired in 1988 from the Springfield Police Department. He was a patrolman and community relations officer in the department, responsible for programs in schools such as Safety Town.
Bringing magic into the schools was an extension of what Carr was already doing at work. The events were always fun, though he said some parents were not happy with how he would allow the students to call him Hermann instead of “officer.”
“Children grow up many times thinking a policeman is a machine,” he said. “I want them to know I’m just like you.”
He has been practicing magic since the third grade, when a magician performed for him and his classmates.
“I thought that is really something, that’s very interesting,” he said. He asked his teacher where he could learn magic, and she pointed him to the library.
Carr says the same thing to youths who ask him how they can learn magic.
“I tell them don’t put a lot of money into it until you know you want to do it,” he said. “Get some books and see what you think of it.
“I enjoy the mystery of it,” he added. “There’s always something new in magic to learn.”
And besides the basics, an aspiring magician only needs a desire to do it, Carr said.
He had training beyond books in Boston. He took classes at the Cambridge School of Radio and Television Broadcasting at night, while still in the Army.
Mrs. Carr said she met her future husband in high school. She was introduced by a friend and started dating him. She realized after a few dates that her mother and sister had seen him performing and talked about him previously. She started helping him with his shows in high school.
The Carrs were featured in the March 2015 edition of “The Linking Ring,” the official publication of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Many people have seen magic on TV, but not in person, and Carr said the reactions he receives from people are a lot of fun.
The Carrs perform for anyone and everyone, though they spend much of their time performing in prisons. They have been to over 120 correctional institutions in 11 states, and all of those performances have been fun, they say. The pair also do performances in schools, nursing homes and private parties.
Carr’s first prison performance was in Lima. He then did one at the London Correctional Institution in London after driving by and wondering if they would be interested.
While Carr said he doesn’t condone what the prisoners have done, it is touching to see the joy he brings to them and their families. Often he will see a reunion of a father and a daughter that is especially touching.
“It pulls at your heartstrings,” he said.
One time, when he was packing up to leave a prison in Kentucky, a prisoner approached him, shook his hand and said, “Thank you. You let me escape in my mind.”
“Seeing the show is like a fantasy world for them,. They are not thinking about the prison,” he said.
The couple adapt their shows to the age and type of audience and the space they have to work with. Carr has been doing magic for so long that he has a lot of material to choose from. He tries to make sure each show is unique.
The Carrs’ children have helped in the shows a few times. Though they don’t do magic on a regular basis, they have picked up a few tricks.
The number of shows the Carrs put on each year depends on the season and demand. Now that Carr is retired, he has more time to devote to magic and performing.
“I enjoy making people happy, making them laugh,” Mrs. Carr said, adding she enjoys the shows in the prisons because of seeing the joy on their faces. “I feel like when we do them, we are giving them something they need. It’s something that makes you feel good, and they couldn’t be nicer.”
To schedule a magic show or for more information, call the Carrs at 937-399-8430 or email [email protected]
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.