LEFT: Cover of August
1924 issue of Science
and Invention showing
mining rocks. These
magazines often predicted future scientific
developments, but got
them wrong more often
than right. RIGHT:
Cover of Entertaining
1961. This picture
by Anthony Ravielli
captures the spirit of
Martin’s long interest in
and games, showing the
juggling the symbols of
algebra, geometry, and
handkerchief and the match is unbroken. That
fooled me completely when he did it. There was
another match hidden in the hem of the handkerchief. That’s the one you really broke.
DS: Were you ever a performing magician?
MG: No. The only time I was a performer was
when I was in college. I worked Christmas seasons
from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve at Marshall
Field’s in the toy department, demonstrating
Mysto Magic sets. They sold a series of sets with
different degrees of complexity, and there was one
in particular that had very nice equipment in it.
I worked out a routine and did magic behind the
counter until a crowd collected. I went through
a series of tricks using equipment in the magic
set. I did that for about three Christmas seasons.
That’s the only time I ever got paid for doing magic.
DS: During your time in Chicago, did you meet
any of the legendary Chicago magicians?
MG: Oh, I did. Magic was my principal hobby and
I used to spend a lot of time socializing with the
magic crowd. In the evenings, six to 12 magicians
gathered at a Chinese restaurant called the Nankin,
or another restaurant on Saturdays. Most of them
worked in nightclubs. I used to take the elevated
into town and join the crowd at the Nankin
restaurant. Also a number of magicians who
were playing a Chicago date would appear at the
restaurant as guests. So I got to meet all the local
magicians and a lot of out-of-town magicians also.
DS: You wrote the “Mathematical Games”
column in Scientific American for 25 years, and
that material found its way into 15 books. How did
that job come about? Did you realize what you
were getting into?
MG: No, I had no idea. I was living in New York
at the time. After Esquire moved to New York, I
realized that New York was the place for a freelance writer, so I pulled up stakes and moved to
New York. I had great difficulty earning a living.
Then Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine came
along. A fellow named Harold Schwartz was in
charge of their children’s books. He happened
to be a personal friend, and he hired me to do
activity features for Humpty Dumpty’s, which
was just getting started. For eight years I was
a contributing editor. In every issue I did a short
story about Humpty Dumpty giving moral
advice to Humpty Dumpty Junior. They were
eggs of course. The magazine came out ten
times a year. So I did 80 stories, which never
found a book publisher.
I also did the activity features, where you do
something that damages the page. You cut it,
you tear it out, you fold it, you hold it up to the