For the Sunday Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An 11-year-old Chet Shifflett went to the traveling carnival expecting to see the standard elephants and games, but instead found a surprise that would inspire him for years to come.
A magician happened to be with the troupe and gave multiple 15-minute performances throughout the day.
The trick that hooked Shifflett was a vanishing bowl of water. His interest drove him to ask his parents for more money, and he purchased a ticket for every show on the schedule.
"And, really, all that I was concerned about -- it really wasn't even the magician -- it was that one effect. It drove me nuts," Shifflett recalled.
He and his friends pooled their money and purchased their first magic kit. Shifflett made his debut in the school talent show.
Soon after, teenage distractions had Shifflett focusing on other things, and he stopped pursuing the act. Then, at the age of 22, he came across a magic book in a bookstore. He bought the book and studied it from cover to cover. His love of magic was rekindled.