The Mindreader and the Salesman

My father and I went to Atlantic City where they had various carnival things going on outdoors. While my father was doing some business, I went to see a mindreader. He was seated on the stage with his back to the audience, dressed in robes and wearing a great big turban. He had an assistant, a little guy who was running around through the audience, saying things like, "Oh, Great Master, what is the color of this pocketbook?"

"Blue!" says the master.

"And oh, Illustrious Sir, what is the name of this woman?"


Some guy gets up: "What's my name?"


I get up and say, "What's my name?"

He doesn't answer. The other guy was obviously a confederate, but I couldn't figure out how the mindreader did the other tricks, like telling the color of the pocketbook. Did he wear earphones underneath the turban?

When I met up with my father, I told him about it. He said, "They have a code worked out, but I don't know what it is. Let's go back and find out."

We went back to the place, and my father said to me, "Here's fifty cents. Go get your fortune read in the booth back there, and I'll see you in half an hour."

I knew what he was doing. He was going to tell the man a story, and it would go smoother if his son wasn't there going, "Ooh, ooh!" all the time. He had to get me out of the way.

When he came back he told me the whole code: "Blue is 'Oh, Great Master,' Green is 'Oh, Most Knowledgeable One,'" and so forth. He explained, "I went up to him, afterwards, and told him I used to do a show in Patchogue, and we had a code, but it couldn't do many numbers, and the range of colors was shorter. I asked him, 'How do you carry so much information?'"

The mindreader was so proud of his code that he sat down and explained the whole works to my father. My father was a salesman. He could set up a situation like that.