MAGICIAN, 73, STILL DISAPPEARING
He arrived in Canada filled with ambition, energetic and always frugal, and within a couple of years had set aside enough to buy a small lot in the west end of Toronto and built himself a frame cottage.
He rigged the place with various mechanical gimmicks with which to bamboozle unsuspecting guests. Soon his cottage became known, half in fear, half in affection, as the Haunted House, especially at the meat-packing plant where he worked for his first nine years in Canada.
Everyone at Swift's knew and loved the merry little Maltese electrician who dwelt with ghosts, hobgoblins and assorted other strange things.
He bought many of his props and gimmicks from The Novelty Shop in the old Yonge Street Arcade, and when he left Swift's he went to work in that shop, demonstrating and selling tricks and novelties. He drew such large crowds outside the shop when he put on noon-hour demonstrations in the front window that the police on the beat had to hold a path open through the throngs for passers-by.
Mr. Giordmaine first made his name in the profession at the convention of the International Brotherhood of Magicians held in 1930 at Fort Wayne, Ind., attended by 800 active practitioners, from the greats to such tyros as himself.
One of the celebrities who was to perform became sick and Mr. Giordmaine was asked to step into his place on the program. Luckily he had his best tricks with him, polished to perfection. "I swear that all 800 delegates shook hands with me and congratulated me afterward - me, a real unknown; and, just to think, there were the greats like Thurston, Nelson, Downs. Al Saal patting me on the back and telling me what a good performance I had given. I was almost too stunned and awed to thank them properly."
After a year and a half of working in the Arcade Novelty Shop, Mr. Giordmaine worked for 30 years in the toy department of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. main store.
Every Christmas he performed at a special party held in the mansion of Lady Eaton, whose autobiography describes his "marvellous" feats of legerdemain.
Mr. Giordmaine has always played up his diminutive stature. During his shows he produces over-sized objects from thin air which make him look even smaller; and no one is more surprised and dumfounded than he when he turns and looks at what he has conjured up.
Ed Sullivan proved the perfect foil for the Merry Maltese during Mr. Giordmaine's 92-second appearance.
He pulled a "planted" hankerchief from Ed's breast pocket, gave it a shake, and off fell the polka dots; produced a solid metal ring and instantly turned it into a square; whipped out a doll's purse and drew from it a long garden hose. Purse and hose vanished and the flying fingers were seen holding a rope and tying knots into it which untied themselves on command.
When he returned to his hotel room, the door was open and there was a stir inside. The chambermaid had let herself in with her pass-key, turned down the bed, and was checking the towels in the bathroom when she spied three rabbits hopping about in the tub. She had fainted, and when Mr. Giordmaine entered another maid and a bellhop were reviving her.
Mr. Giordmaine is a man with that precious possession, a glad heart. Part of it stems from the fact that he has discovered his true metier; but the greater part, he will tell you, derives from his Roman Catholic faith which is his deep, abiding joy. He would never miss going to church, in town and out.
"God gave us 24 hours a day. The least we can do is give one hour back to Him."