Cramer was recalling his experiences with Powell (1905 – c 1952), the son of the prominent Cleveland surgeon and nephew of a federal judge. Powell was a professional magician and if you go by Cramer’s account and those of others, not a very good one. He did have a scaling card with a Roterberg back.
According to Cramer, Powell was 6’ 4” and, “carved an unhappy career in that city’s history and was no credit to magic.” His big contribution to magic was the creation of the “Stung, Stung Again” trick. Cramer first met Powell after a Blackstone Sr. show where the Harry had identified young Cramer in the audience and described him as a magic enthusiast. Powell caught up with Cramer after the show and eventually invited him over to his house. Eventually Cramer even assisted Powell on some “pretty awful” shows at run-down movie houses.
In a July 1985 Linking Ring article Cramer recalled Powell’s mishandling of livestock during his shows. In one instance, around 1928, Powell produced a dead rabbit from a Welsh Rarebit pan. It had suffocated. Another time he produced a pigeon…not a white dove, but a common street pigeon…and when produced, the startled bird flew out in a panic, hit into a wall and broke its neck.
Cramer described him as “pushy” and with having the conviction that he was the greatest magician who ever lived. At one of the early I.B.M. conventions, his act was going on way too long and all of a sudden the rear curtain rose silently to reveal the back brick wall of the stage. Joe Berg and Jack Gwynne started carrying ladders and buckets across the stage to great laughter from the audience. Powell thought it was his witty patter.
The end came while Cramer was demonstrating magic at a local department store. It was his job to perform some of the tricks in magic sets. Powell heckled Cramer from the audience and shouted out his way of doing the tricks.
The most bizarre and troubling thing about Powell was that he was a suspect in a series of grisly murders in the mid-1930s. They came to be known as “The Torso Murders.” Police began discovering headless, armless, and castrated bodies in a ditch called “Kingsbury Run.”
Elliott Ness, then Safety Director of the city, rounded up 1,500 suspects, many of them lunatics. Apparently, after each body was discovered, police visited Powell’s home. The surgical precision of the attacks led them to believe that only someone who had access to surgical tools (Powell’s father was a surgeon) could have done such ghastly murders. He was never arrested.
Apparently years later, Powell straggled into a local magic shop, Jean’s Funny House, asking for a squirting flower. He told John Isley, the manager, that he was going to fill it with acid and play a trick on a certain person he had in mind. Powell was eventually committed to the Newbury Insane Asylum where he reportedly emasculated one of the guards. It was there that he died in solitary confinement.