July 13, 2012

Soapy Smith Wake: Magic Castle, 2012

The kids and I
Soapy Smith Night (Wake) at the Magic Castle 
(left to right) Jefferson R. Smith, Jeff Smith (me), Troy Hall, and Ashley Smith
Hollywood, CA.

aiting for details from the Magic Castle and writers block has kept me from posting here for a few weeks. I hope posting this today will get me out of that rut.

This year's Soapy Smith wake at the Magic Castle (they call it Soapy Smith Night) was fantastic. They just get better every year! It was for me, perhaps the best in the nine years the Castle has been putting them on. Although the event was on a Sunday evening I had twice as many guests on my membership card than in previous years. The problem for me has always been writing about the event afterwards. I get so hyped up and excited before the event, and then when the day finally arrives it's all within a few seemingly shorter hours. It usually takes me a few days to unwind. This year was harder than previous years as I was laid up in bed the following day.

So much fun!
 (Click image to enlarge)

Whit Haydn, the man behind the event tells me there were a total of 420 guests that raised $2,520 for the Dai Vernon Fund. Once again, my friend, Phil Gessert brought in his fantastic gambling collection and set up a gold rush era gambling hall. Actually, the crowd loves the play gambling (with $100 in Soapy money) that the gambling hall was enlarged and separated into two locations on each end of the downstairs room. Guests played roulette, faro, chuck-a-luck, and black-jack. There were also short cons operating around the Castle, such as the shell and pea game, three-card monte, and fast and loose. Once again, prizes were given to the most successful dealer and player. Cheating is not only welcome, but encouraged.

Jeff Smith talks about the history of the wakes
(note the cased grave marker in the background)

(Click image to enlarge)

The Soapy Smith wake at the Magic Castle is one of the few times guests can come in 1890s costume and every year more people come dressed and enter the costume contest. Prizes were given out for the most authentic male and female, the funniest male and female, and always the favorite, sexiest female. This year we also added sexiest male costume. Live period music was provided by Professor Dave Bourne and the Medicine Show Band. Very popular at each annual party is Chef Anton, the two-time national trick shot champion at pool, presented his incredible demonstration of billiards wizardry. The auction of Soapy and magic memorabilia always brings in a lot of money for the charity. Every year or so I clean out the case holding Soapy's 2nd grave marker and donate the larger splinters of wood to Whit Haydn. He picks a nice piece or two and puts them in a nice shadow box. This year the splinter sold for $96 with all the proceeds going to the charity.

Encased sliver from Soapy's grave marker donated
for the charity auction brought a winning bid of $96.00

I spend the evening talking with people and every year I run into people with great stories. This year one of the full-time Castle employees told me she chooses to work every event except for the Soapy Smith Night. It's the one event she attends as a guest, "because it's so much fun." I certainly can't argue with her.

Family member Ginni Dalton gave an eloquent toast this year 

I had the pleasure of having my two children, Ashley and Jefferson, there again. They are hooked. I also had a few first-time family members attend. It was also the first time ever meeting them. They are Shelagh Moriarty and son Aron and Ginny and Russ Dalton. Shelagh brought old photographs of her grandmother and Soapy's son, my grandfather. We will be getting together soon as she has a lot of history regarding the family. Ginny helped me with giving the toast.

More photographs of the event can be seen on Pop's Soapbox

A special thank to Whit "Pop" Haydn, the man behind this event. 
Our family is forever grateful.

1585: A group of 108 English colonists, led by Sir Richard Grenville, reach Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
1754: At the beginning of the French and Indian War, George Washington surrenders the small, circular Fort Necessity in southwestern Pennsylvania to the French.
1787: U.S. Congress, under the Articles of Confederation, enacts the Northwest Ordinance, which establishes the rules for governing the Northwest Territory, for admitting new states to the Union and limiting the expansion of slavery.
1812: The first pawn-broking ordinance is passed in New York City.
1832: U.S. Indian agent and explorer Henry Schoolcraft discovers the source of the Mississippi River. Its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico begins at Lake Itasca, Minnesota.
1835: John Ruggles receives patent #1 from the U.S. Patent Office for a traction wheel used in locomotive steam engines. All 9,957 previous patents were not numbered.
1863: Opponents of the Civil War draft riot for three days in New York City, which results in more than 1,000 casualties.
1866: Construction begins on Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming, between the forks of the Little Piney and Big Piney Creeks. Red Cloud, Ogalala Crazy Horse, Black Shield, and High Backbone of the Minneconjous Indian tribe, seal a pact and over the next six months kill 154 soldiers and settlers in 51 skirmishes.
1867: Lieutenant Goodale and the 23rd Infantry report five Indians killed and two captured on the Malheur, Oregon Territory. One soldier is killed.
1871: The 21st Infantry reports killing fifteen Indians and one soldier killed, Clenega de Los pinos, Arizona Territory.
1872: The 5th Cavalry reports killing four Indians in a battle in the Whetstone Mountains, Arizona Territory.
1875: David Brown patents the first cash-carrier system.
1882: George Hackett, driver of a Wells Fargo stage nine miles outside of Strawberry, California shoots at stage robber Charles Earl Bowles, alias “Black Bart.” The shot scars Bowles forehead, but he escapes into the woods.
1891: William Oliver is swindled for a second time in the Tivoli Club and gets into a fight with bunco man, John Goodfellow.
1896: Philadelphia’s Ed Delahanty became the second major league player to hit four home runs in a single game.
1898: Deputy US Marshal Taylor is officially relieved of duty by US Marshal Shoup after the death of Soapy Smith. Taylor was in Soapy’s pay.
1898: Sheriff Pat Garrett of Dona Ana County, New Mexico and four deputies attempt to arrest Oliver Lee and James Gilliland at Lee’s ranch for murder. The lawmen were greeted with gunfire from Lee and Gilliland. Garrett receives a slight wound in the side and Deputy Kent Kearney is mortally wounded. The lawmen retreat, but both men later surrender. Lee and Gilliand are acquitted of the murder charge. Garrett loses his job as sheriff. Lee returns to ranching and is eventually elected twice to the New Mexico legislature.
1937: Outlaw Emmett Dalton dies. He was a member of the train and bank robbing Dalton Gang in Indian Territory. He survived the ill-fated Dalton raid on two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas, despite receiving 23 gunshot wounds. After serving 14 years in prison for the crime, Dalton capitalized on his notoriety to author books and become an actor in Hollywood. Emmett Dalton died in Los Angeles, California. It is believed that Mary, the wife of bad man Soapy Smith was a cousin to the Daltons.

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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith