The “magic” of getting treats on a Monon diner
This recollection has absolutely no historical value other than it happened during the glory days of the Monon Railroad.
In grade school and through my years in the military in the late 50s, I did amateur magic semi-professionally. “Trent Robinson and His Miracles of Magic” or some such ridiculous tune close to that.
I traveled on the Monon on weekends when I would come home from I.U. I was a regular for several years.
On the trips south, I would hit the dining car for coffee, pie or an snack. A particular waiter was always running the kitchen/ serving area. He was on the same route quite often and recognized me when I would show up for coffee.
He was always very polite and usually spent time talking with me as the diner was not usually all that busy. On one trip I planned ahead and stuck some playing cards, balls and trivia in my pockets. He would often sit with me and I pulled out the deck of cards and offered him a choice to take one. I performed some slight of hand thing, made the card disappear, and whatever came next.
He was immediately taken in and I showed him some more before I left. Next trip, I visited the diner, prepared again. This time, with something more sensational.
To make a long story short, I eventually taught him a few simple card tricks that he could perform for others. From then on, the coffee was accompanied with a choice of pie or cake….and I never paid for anything again. Each time, I would show him another trick and each time became a more enjoyable visit.
I eventually transferred to Butler in the middle of my Junior year and that was the end of that. I don’t think that I even traveled the Monon after that.
But, it was a fun time, the comforts of rail travel….and in retrospect, a simple life without any worry of the people or times that surround us now.
I thought that I would pass this along and hope you enjoyed the story.
By Trent Robinson, Originally printed in The Hoosier Line, Volume 30 Number 3
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