SHEBOYGAN FALLS (AP) - After 65 years of practicing magic, Dick DeYoung is hanging up his top hat and passing on his tricks.
DeYoung, 83, recently began the process of auctioning off his more than 100 magic items that nearly filled the basement and garage of his Sheboygan Falls home.
"I love magic and I still love to perform," DeYoung told The Sheboygan Press, "but it got to be too big of a production at this stage in my life."
DeYoung said when he retired about a month ago, it wasn't something he had been considering for long.
"The decision to retire happened very quickly," said DeYoung. "I was setting up for a show and all at once I decided, 'Hey, I've done this for so long and there's not much more that I can prove.'"
DeYoung's daughter, Bonnie Wassell, said her father's decision to retire surprised her and impacted her to the point that she couldn't bear to go to the auction.
"It came as a shock to me," Wassell said. "I remember many of those illusions ... and to see some of that leave my father's home after all these years, I'm really struggling with it because it's been so much a part of our lives."
Wassell said growing up, she and her three siblings were always a part of their father's show, along with their mother, Betty Wassell, who also made all of the costumes.
"Of course my wife and children were in the show," DeYoung said. "We were a family magic show."
Even though DeYoung said he's at peace with his decision to retire, it was still hard for him to see his collection go.
Bob Rath, a member of the Society of American Magicians and who coordinated the auction on DeYoung's behalf, said he could relate.
"I know how hard it is for even me to sell something that I've only had a year," Rath said. "I can't even imagine having a lifetime of love - his heart and soul - to have to turn it over to somebody else."
There's some solace, however, in seeing those beloved items go to someone who will appreciate them and use them, Rath said.
Someone like Sheboygan Falls resident Ethan Kapelka, 13, who said he was inspired to take up magic after seeing DeYoung's show when he was about 7 years old and who had the honor of serving as DeYoung's assistant for one year just before DeYoung retired.
"(I got) one good year with him," said Kapelka, who hopes to be a professional magician one day as well.
Kapelka was among the crowd of magicians on a recent Saturday, perusing DeYoung's items and hoping to find a prop from among his mentor's collection that he could add to his own magic routine.
Other magicians said they came looking for collectors' items.
"I'm really into antique stuff and collectables," said Magician Glen Gerard, of Germantown. "There are particular items I'm looking for more than just stuff to put in my act."
Top Hat the Magician was looking for items he could use in his show and said he came to DeYoung's house because he prefers the older props.
"I like the older magicians' style better than the newer ones'," Top Hat said.
DeYoung had plenty of antiques to choose from. Some of his items are 50 or more years old and a few are rare as well.
"(He has one) illusion where there's probably only two left in the world right now," Rath said. "Some of this stuff, you can't go into a magic shop and buy it anymore."
DeYoung said he has tens of thousands of dollars invested in his collection, but he's selling most of his bigger items for prices way cheaper than what a person could find elsewhere.
"This is a really good deal," said Kapelka's father, Loren Kapelka. "Good props are expensive."
Now that he's made up his mind to retire, he's not going back on that decision. DeYoung said he wants everything to sell. Any remaining items will go up for auction again on April 28 in Grafton.
"This is 65 years of love," Top Hat said. "Most people call it magic, but I would say this is 65 years of love."
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