An Autobiography: Chapter 15, Born in Visalia, Kentucky

| 7/18/2012 9:51:02 AM

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It was a dark and stormy night when I was born. Well, actually that is not true, but I had to put this in as I am an avid admirer of the great author, “Snoopy.” 

It was May 5, 1926, when the stork flew low across the Licking River to Visalia, Kentucky, with me aboard, and at 6:30 a.m., presented my proud parents, Calbert Summers and Mila Mae, their 4th child, all boys. Clarence Calbert was born in 1921, Edwin Byron, 1923, and Lewis Franklin in 1925. (Lewis died in infancy.) The log house I was born in was destroyed by arson at the turn of the century.

The most famous magician at the time was named Thurston, more famous even than his contemporary Harry Houdini. He had the largest traveling magic show of the time, more than eight train cars. His card tricks are still talked about by magicians throughout the world.

Thurston Poster 02 

For one trick, he would go into the audience and ask several people to choose cards from his deck. He then shuffled them and placed them into a clear glass. Thurston would then call for the chosen cards. One by one the cards would rise to the top of the deck. When the audience wanted the cards to rise even higher, he was able to make the cards rise directly out of the pack! I had a collection of original Thurston memorabilia, which went to a museum in Florida many years ago.

I’m sure my dad never saw Thurston, but he certainly knew about him and wanted his new son to be named after this famous man. However, the doctor insisted I be named after him and said that he would buy me my first suit when I grew up. So I was named Walter Thurston. The “Walter” I never liked and never used. And, of course, I never got that suit. Thurston and Georgianna was a great team, but Walter and Georgianna … no way! There were many famous people named Walter, like Cronkite, Pidgeon, Wanger, Raleigh, Damrosch, Winchell and Huston, but Walter Thurston just doesn’t cut it.

9/14/2012 1:10:34 PM

Hi, that is Nathaniel VISE, not "Wise". He is an ancestor of mine. His son founded Visalia, California.

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