I was in the Notre Dame Glee Club for the four years I attended the University. It was a great bunch and probably the most sought after glee club in the United States in the 1950's. We normally traveled about ten thousand miles per year on two 5,000 mile tours by bus. That was not even counting the five to ten side trips we made during the year that were just one day. The two long trips consisted of one at Semester break (after Christmas) and the other at the Easter break. As evidence of their great popularity, the Notre Dame Glee Club was on the Ed Sullivan show seven Easter Sundays in a row. I was fortunate enough to make four of them.
During the first tour I went on with the club in 1953, we went down to Florida and back up the east coast during the semester break in January. While we were in Florida, we gave a concert in West Palm Beach. The night before concert the Notre Dame Alumni Association took all of us to dinner at the very posh and prestigious West Palm Beach Bath and Tennis Club. There must have been several hundred people there eating and drinking and having a good time. The place was huge with large amounts of huge plants all over the place and long tables with linen tablecloths and very expensive china and silverware.
Towards the end of the meal, a man came out on the stage, identified himself (sad to say, I don't even remember his name) and said he was a mind reader. My thoughts were "what a joke! No way anybody can read minds!" He then said that there were slips of paper and pencils on every table and that we should write down some event in our lives that he could not know about and fold up the slip of paper. Then his assistants would pick up the papers, bring them to the stage and put all of them into a very large fish bowl sitting on a pedestal at the front of the stage. "At that point" he said, "I will pull out several slips of paper and read them out. Then I will proceed to read your mind and describe the event that took place strictly from the information in your mind".
I grabbed a slip of paper immediately and thought to myself, "It's not very likely that he going to pick out my slip of paper amongst hundreds of others but even if he does, there's no way he can identify what took place 5,000 miles away two years ago!"
The event I was about to describe in as cryptic a manner as I could figure out took place in Hawaii in the fall of 1951. I was 16 years old and exceptionally angry with my father, a rather usual state of affairs with all kids who are in their mid-teens. My father had bought a brand new 1950 two door Coup De Ville Cadillac when they came out and it was still in mint condition less than two years later. Except to get my driver's license with him in the car, he had refused to allow me to drive the car with him in it much less let me take it out by myself. I was furious with him about that and other non-physical injuries he and my mother had heaped on my head. It was really typical sixteen-year-old resentment at parents' refusal to treat you like an adult.
I told a friend of mine, Mike Mahoney, who was a classic case of a severe juvenile delinquent, that I was going to take the keys to the Cadillac off my father's dresser, roll the Cadillac out of the garage and down the driveway, start it up and go for a ride. I asked him if he would help me. Mike thought it was a great idea and said we ought to have a lot of fun. We got together outside my house about two o'clock in the morning and put the Cadillac in neutral, rolled it out of the garage and then down the driveway. I had already taken the keys off my father's dresser and we got in, I started the car and off we went. We had a blast tooling around the island but the cops caught up with us when we went to visit our girlfriends at the Girl Scout camp on the other side of the island. In spite of my protestations that it was my father's car and I had my driver's license, they arrested both of us and handcuffed us in front of all of those girls and hauled us back to the Honolulu downtown police station. It was really an ignominious defeat!
There was a lot more to the event but that's a side issue for another story. I started to describe this event on that slip of paper and it came out like this: (NOTE: the answers were not written down, just the questions)
1. Q: Two years ago someone stole my father's car. What kind of car was it?
A: A 1950 Cadillac
2. Q: While the car was out of my father's possession, someone broke into the trunk and stole something. What did they steal?
A: A toolbox with some tools in it.
3. Q: Who stole the car?
A: Frank Owens, Jr. (NOTE: The only place where I was known by this name was at my father's music studios in downtown Honolulu. I never used it anyplace else. The secretary used it on the large appointment book to distinguish between appointments for me and ones for my father.)
There is absolutely no way this man in Florida could have known any of these details. It was too obscure and too detailed for anyone else to figure out as I was too ashamed to ever tell anyone about the incident and no one at the University knew me from Hawaii or anything about the car incident, much less that I was known as "Frank Owens, Jr." in a very specialized situation. The only name most of the students who knew me used was "Fritz" although the professors did use my legal name, "Francis".
Don't you know this guy pulled several slips of paper out of the fish bowl and the second one he read was the one I had submitted? He asked the person who had written it to stand up so I stood up. Then he said that he wanted me to concentrate on the event and he would describe what he would read in my mind. I thought to myself "I'll fix this dude. Let him see if he can figure this out." I immediately started visualizing what I used to think about to keep people from making me laugh. I imagined that I was in the glass nose cone of a rocket ship hurtling through black empty space, just like a scene from a very popular Bugs Bunny cartoon. All of a sudden he said in a very serious, puzzled tone of voice, "That's really strange! All I see is black, empty space!" Of course, everyone laughed hysterically at what they thought was a joke but it shook me up beyond words because that is exactly what was in my mind! Naturally, I immediately started thinking about what had happened. He then said almost immediately "Oh, there it is! It was a 1950 Cadillac, someone broke into the trunk and stole a toolbox with some tools in it and I think I'd better see you after the show to tell you who stole the car."
I was dumbfounded. Shocked beyond words and absolutely amazed. How could he possibly have come up with the information to answer the first two questions? A huge number of unreal coincidences would have had to take place for him to even get a glimmer of this story. It just didn't seem possible but right then and there I was still unwilling to accept the facts. When he got through with the show, I went up to meet him and he guided me off to the side and down a walkway between lots of bushes. He asked me if I knew who stole the car. I said yes and he handed me another blank slip of paper and a pencil and asked me to write the name on the paper, fold it up and hand it back to him.
By now I was about as paranoid as you can get about the situation so I checked all around to see if there was anyone in the bushes looking at me or hidden cameras recording what I was doing. I held the slip of paper cupped in my left hand close to my chest and printed in small letters "Frank Owens, Jr.". I folded it at least four times and handed it back to him. He looked at it for a moment then looked me straight in the eye and said, "Was it Frank Owens, Jr.?" I was so astounded I think I stopped breathing for a while as he turned around and walked away. It really was breathtaking.
I've thought about this incident several times a year for the last 54 years and have reached the only conclusion possible. He actually got that information by reading my mind. There is no other explanation that even comes close. The kicker to the whole story is that the Korean War was going on at the time and everyone was wondering how long it would last. During his show, this man said, "Quit worrying about the Korean War, it will definitely be over in six months."
Here's a note
"From the Korean War Time Line:"
July 27, 1953 Cease-fire signed
As Sherlock Holmes said, "When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. " I think the man was not only a true gifted mind reader but a clairvoyant as well. How about you? Leave your comment or e-mail me.