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Houdini makes a reappearance — of sorts

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Joe Battle and Liliana Aguilar tighten the knot on the rope securing the wrists and legs of Bill Martin, while his wife, Charlene Martin, assists during a talk and a few magic demonstrations Saturday afternoon at the Roswell Public Library. Martin easily slipped out of the restraints, even before Aguilar could start the stopwatch to time him. Martin, who has performed magic since 1959, including for villagers in Vietnam while he served in the U.S. Navy, gives talks about Harry Houdini, aka Erich Weisz, to various groups for the New Mexico Humanities Council. He also is president of the nonprofit Veterans and Patriots Performance Group in Albuquerque. Martin discussed Houdini’s life and some of the cultural implications of his work. Houdini, who died on Oct. 31, 1926, was known as the “Great Self-Liberator” and had a rags-to-riches life as an immigrant from Hungary. He would seek to inspire others by showing that nothing could keep him down. Houdini became a great magician, inventing his own escapes and tricks, Martin said, “because of the fact that he was too poor to buy magic tricks, but he could afford to go to the library to read.” (Lisa Dunlap Photo)