Beloved Springfield magician, police officer honored with new exhibition: What to know about Hermann Carr

Hermann Carr, a magician and longtime member of the Springfield Police, is being remembered with an exhibition at the Heritage Center of Clark County and a virtual program on Wednesday, Jan. 12 on Zoom. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRETT TURNER

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Hermann Carr, a magician and longtime member of the Springfield Police, is being remembered with an exhibition at the Heritage Center of Clark County and a virtual program on Wednesday, Jan. 12 on Zoom. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRETT TURNER

The name Hermann Carr will always be associated with magic for Springfield residents of a certain age.

Not only was Carr a practicing magician whose talent led him to perform at the White House, but his influence and work as a Springfield police officer helped many children become safer citizens.

Although he died in 2019, the Carr continues to be remembered. Last fall, he was honored with the naming of the Hermann Carr Way along West McCreight Avenue, and the Heritage Center of Clark County now has an exhibit dedicated to Hermann the Magician on display through the end of January. That will include a virtual program, “Magical Memories: Hermann the Magician – a Magical Life” at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Zoom.

The exhibit and livestream pull back the curtain on the man who was equally proud to entertain as a magician and help people understand a police officer can be a friend.

“He was equally known as Officer Carr as well as Hermann the Magician,” said his daughter, Marcie Carr Hagler. “His love for kids meant he blended his magic and police work. Kids were drawn to him.”

Carr went on stage as a third-grader in Cable, Ohio to help magician Benjamin Franklin the Great with a trick that captured the youngster’s imagination, inspiring him to become a self-taught magician.

Clark Carr described his father as persistent and headstrong in his dedication to magic and being a policeman. That’s why on the Hermann Carr Way sign, he is represented by both a magic top hat and police badge.

Any time of the year, Carr was either doing magic acts at schools, the Clark County Fair or any number of events. Carr Hagler recalled how his persistence paid off one day when she came home from school and asked what he was working on. SHe was amazed at the reply: He was going to perform for then-President Jimmy Carter, which he did in 1978 and 1979.

“It was one of his goals,” she said.

Carr graduated from Springfield High School in 1955, married high school sweetheart Marcia, who became his onstage assistant, and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he entertained as a magician with the USO. He joined the Springfield Police Division in 1961 and spent 27 years with the department.

In 1969, Carr made one of the most prominent contributions to youth public safety in Springfield by creating Safety City. Thousands of kindergarten and first-grad children learned safety rules including those for traffic, seat belts, bicycles and fires. They included his daughter in that first class.

He encouraged the young attendees to not address him as Officer Carr or Mr. Policeman but simply Hermann.

Safety City continues as a free summer course that teaches the same principles. Clark Carr was touched at Hermann Carr’s memorial when Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf called his father a pioneer in policing for such contributions, and said if there were a Springfield Police hall of fame his name would be prominent.

A common sight would be children recognizing Hermann Carr in a restaurant and saying hello, and he’d always have a magic trick to entertain them.

Lorin Wear, who lived near the Carrs, loved hanging around the family and launched a Hermann Carr Tribute Facebook page just over a year ago after Hermann’s name popped up on an Ohio history page numerous times.

Clark Carr saw a standout example shortly before Hermann Carr’s passing on a trip to pay a bill. When Carr came up a few dollars short, another man offered to pay the difference, which Carr resisted.

The man looked at Carr and said he was offering “for what you did for my sons.”

The Heritage Center exhibition is a different take for Natalie Fritz, curator of library and archives. Most exhibits are from older history, but this is recent history. It is set up to resemble what it would look like if Hermann was ready to do a show, with props he used in his act.

“This may be the most colorful, bright exhibit we’ve ever done,” she said.

Fritz has also scanned around 3,000 images from a large scrapbook he’d kept that will be in the archives and for the family to use.

Wednesday’s virtual event will involve trivia, Carr’s magician friends doing some of his tricks and thoughts from those whose lives he touched, including Tim Rowe, who is now the Springfield Arts Council executive director.

“I met Hermann Carr when I was 8 or 9 years old, and he was very influential in my lifelong interest in magic,” Rowe said.

Once the Heritage Center exhibition closes, it won’t be a final disappearing act. Carr Hagler and Clark Carr are in talks with national museums where the props and things used in his act can be preserved and appreciated, and the Hermann Carr tribute page continues to draw new followers and will be filled with content.

“If you look at his page, no one has had a bad thing to say about him and in today’s climate, that’s hard to find, but that was our dad,” Clark Carr said.

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