BAXTER -- Students at Baxter Elementary School got an education in trickery Thursday when magician Dick Oslund brought his act to the school gym. Students and teachers alike marveled at Oslund's trickery with handkerchiefs, golf balls, metal rings and coins.
"People ask me if I buy specialty items, but everything here I bought at yard sales for a dollar or two," said Oslund, 71.
The Escanaba, Mich., native has been performing magic since the age of 13. Oslund was a social outcast in the seventh grade because of a speech impediment.
"We had no speech therapists in those days," Oslund said. "So one of my teachers turned me on to magic, and I did some magic for show and tell. I discovered peer recognition. That teacher died a couple years ago at age 94. I have her to blame for my career, but there's nothing I'd rather be doing."
Aylah Pagel (left), and Kassie Anderson got several good laughs from Dick Oslund's performance on Thursday.
Oslund has performed all over the United States and Europe, everywhere from nightclubs to nursing homes. But he mostly performs at colleges, high schools and elementary schools, working five or six days a week between September and May.
Oslund once worked as a circus clown in the summer months. Today, he spends summers at Boy Scouts camps, coaching new Scoutmasters.
He said young kids are both his favorite audience and his toughest.
"Adults are easier to fool," Oslund said. "The more intelligent a person is, the more complicated their mind is. And the mind is great at fooling itself."
First-grader Gabriel Gibson smiled as magician Dick Oslund appeared to retrieve coins from his nose.
Oslund said the secret of magic is simple.
"It's 85 percent psychology, 5 percent sensory illusion, 5 percent sleight of hand and 5 percent esoteric science."
Even after all these years, the joy of watching people laugh keeps Oslund touring the country. He believes young people today live in a harsher world than ever before, making laughter and fun important.
"If you see someone who's not smiling, I say give him one of yours," he said. "We could all use a few more laughs nowadays."
Dick Oslund performed a magic act for the students at Baxter Elementary School on Thursday. Oslund, 71, has been performing magic since 1945.
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