Great Lester's Slate

Nearly 40 years ago I received this small slate from W.S. Berger. W.S. told me the slate was one used by the Great Lester in his act. Although erased many years ago, faint chalk markings can still be seen on the slate. So I've kept it carefully protected and in storage all these years. After reading Dr. Klock's comments about his time spent with Lester, I mentioned the slate to him. The following was his reply:

From Dr. Larry Klock: "Hello Clinton, Regarding the slate, I think I know exactly how Lester used it. He did a 'memory' act, where the audience would yell out objects, someone would write them down and he would remember all of them--up to 100 items, in order, when asked. Usually he only did 20 or 30 objects, and this slate may have been used to record these. That's my best guess. Lester taught us this memory method (which used association), and I used it all through medical school to memorize the nerves, muscles, etc. It got me through many exams! I still remember precisely the system we learned right down to the very detail.

One day a friend of Lester came to the door and Lester met him and asked him to remove a card from a deck, which he did. I was sitting in an adjacent room but could see them. Lester introduced me as one of his students, and asked me to reveal the name of the card. As he did that, he "flashed" quickly the bottom card of the deck, and I knew immediately what the chosen card was. Of course, I waited a few seconds and concentrated hard and then revealed the card. His guest was flabbergasted and amazed. Lester had used a simple 'stacked deck' effect (which he had taught us previously), so all one had to do was to see the card next to the one chosen to know its identity. That kind of stuff went on all the time around his studio!"

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  1. I met The Great Lester in 1955 at the Pittsburgh combined IBV/IBM convention. I went to the convention with Mr. Berger taking a night "sleeper" train out of Cincinnati. I helped Mr. Berger carry Jacko and several other suitcase trunks of figures. I was called in my William Penn hotel room by Mr. Berger to come down to his room to meet The Great Lester, so I took my dummy, a Davenport figure, got from Mr. Berger for $100 the year before out of his collection. I heard Lester do the three way phone bit and the bit where he makes it sound someone calling from closed door to the room, he sticks his head out the door then takes right arm leaning left and appeared to grab his head and pull out the door. Lester needed a figure to use in stage show at the convention. I had the Davenport rigged with a spring from post to bottom board. Lester jerked the spring loose, did not like it, and ended up using a Marshall figure of another fellow at the convention.

  2. I met The Great Lester in 1955 at the Pittsburgh convention. Berger called me at my room in William Penn hotel to come down to his room to meet Lester. I did and took my Davenport bought from Berger collection year before for $100. I saw Lester do the three-way phone bit, also he threw his voice outside Berger's door, opened door, leaned out to his left and an arm grabed pulled Lester's head and pulled him out the door (own right arm used. He needed a figure for stage show at the convention and handled my Davenport. I had a stiff spring at post to bottom board and Lester jerked it loose...sprung it good, and he ended up using a Marshall of somebody else there in attendance.

  3. I had the great opportunity of being born just early eanough to see the Great Lester On YOU ASKED FOR IT presented by SKIPPY PEANUT BUTTER on my WOR Station in NY I can still remember the look of astonishment on my 6 year old face as I sat there watching this voice come out of a telephone without a wire word and asked how he did that and all my parents could say was it was magic. I must say He was my first contact with the wonders of ventriloquism..Thank You...