|A two-story-high, chase-lighted marquee out front heralded the arrival of Baer's "Treasure Chest," and home of "Chicago's Magic Center." The Treasure Chest front entrance circa 1950.|
In the 1960s & 70s, the Treasure Chest was a hang-out for Navy Cadets on a pass from Fort Sheridan, just north of Highland Park, about an hour train ride away.
The Illinois General Assembly made "mechanical gambling devices" illegal in 1895. It wasn't until 1942 that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that pinball machines that awarded free replays would fall under this same category. Because of a bit of political gamesmanship known only to Bobby Baer and certain city councilmen, the new amusement palace was the only arcade licensed within Chicago's Loop, thus allowing pinball machines. The Illinois pinball machine ban was finally overturned in Chicago in early 1977.
|Magician Marshall Brodien demonstrating at the Treasure Chest's Magic Center, the upstairs shop that catered to the pros.|
|Marshall Brodien played Wizzo the Wizard on ‘The Bozo Show.'|
|Brodien's TV Magic Cards were first released in November of 1969. TV Magic Show was released in 1972.|
|The Marshall Brodien Magic Shop in Old Chicago Shopping Mall and Amusement Park in Bolingbrook, Illinois.|
When you came in the front door and walked past the counter on the right side, there were stairs leading to an upstairs shop, also on the right. The entrance had a velvet rope across it and a small sign, saying "Abbott's Pro Shop." The rope barrier was to keep out the idly curious. You needed permission from an employee to go upstairs.
Although the upstairs Pro Shop had professional, high quality, and expensive magic, the downstairs area had a magic area that sold some professional tricks.
Further down on the right side were the gag gifts; fake vomit, doggie poop, itching powder, plastic ice cube with a fly inside (my favorite prank), Pepper or Garlic Gum, hand buzzer shockers and tons more cheap but fun gags.
On the left side as you entered were counters and shelving full of jewelry, watches, transistor radios, tape recorders, switch-blade combs, and other kinds of "general merchandise." You could get your own headline printed on the front page of a faux newspaper i.e. "Dr. Smith Survives a Flood, Asteroid Strike, and Airplane Crash."
|1974 Midway Chopper helicopter coin-operated flying arcade game. It was touchy business making a toy helicopter to fly in slow circles and brush electric contacts with spring feelers before the timer ran out. My personal favorite.|
|Skee-Ball Machines... Win tickets and turn them in at the counter for a cheesy toy.|
|Examples of the type of pinball games. Not a Treasure Chest photo.|
By 1980 the hours were changed to 9am-10pm Monday thru Thursday; 9am-midnight on Friday & Saturday, 12pm-10pm on Sunday.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.