Niagara Gazette

October 9, 2012

BRADBERRY: What would you do with a magic wand?

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Have you ever thought what you might do if you were king or queen for a day, equipped with a magic wand? I have, I could use one right now and I’d like to use it to make a governor appear!

I’m not sure when or where the magic wand fantasy began, but I thought about it again the other day after reading about the depth of some of the challenges we are facing globally as well as locally here, sometimes our own problems seem so huge that the issues confronting the rest of the world seem to disappear.

As writer Dawn Levesque reminds us, “Wands have cast their magical charm on children and adults alike since stories began.”

She says, “Magic wands are found in fairy tales, myth, legend and folklore. In Roman mythology, Mercury carried a wand that has become a familiar symbol in the medical world. In fairy tales, the wand is the catalyst for the story. In fantasy and science fiction, it is the instrument to the objective. With a magic wand, the holder stands boldly to strike down his enemy. In all genres, the magic wand is used for both good and evil.”

I remember when they seemed to come to life in the late 1950s and mid 1960s when almost all the televisions in my old neighborhood tuned in to watch host Jack Bailey bellow, “Do YOU want to be Queen for a Day?”

It felt a little like magic to me when the studio audiences, in unison with me, my sisters, all the moms and a few dads on our block and, no doubt, around the country, glued to their television screens replied in a roar that could probably be heard from coast to coast, “YES!”

And thus the magic of the daytime television game show era was born with a daily “Queen” selected from four women contestants, each with a tear-jerking sob story explained why they believed THEY should be crowned Queen for a Day, showered with washers, dryers all sorts of electric appliances and merchandise ranging from, of course, new televisions, radios, mixers and blenders to full-length fur coats and vacation trips.

The woman with the saddest story was selected by the studio audience based on their applause as measured by the official “Applause Meter.”

Awarded her prizes, the winner was frocked in a beautiful sable-trimmed red velvet official queen robe and a dazzling jewel encrusted crown, handed an arm-full of roses and entertained with a fashion show highlighting the latest in royal finery.

Exactly what a person in need, needs, right?

Maybe, maybe not, but can you imagine what WE (Niagarans) might ask for if we were on such a show?

How about roads, more police and fire protection, and a few hundred houses and other derelict buildings demolished to make way for new, real development and businesses that could be added to the tax rolls, providing good paying private sector jobs … I mean, the prize list could go on and on, and surely we’d have the saddest story. Surely we’d break the Applause Meter and alas, become City for a Day!

I wondered what people would do today if they could become Queen/King for a Day complete with an actual working magic wand, so I asked around.

To my surprise, people were more generous than I would have given them credit for, some less so.

Highest on my totally unscientific survey in terms of the number of times it was mentioned was “world peace” and lowest was a suggestion that I shove my wand where the “sun don’t shine.”

I assume they meant Seattle.

Naturally, the response you get to that question depends entirely on whom you ask.

Children tended more toward toys, candy and ice-cream, and people more focused on material things focused on more material things.

A few, worn down and out by the constant barrage of local and national campaign cacophony said they would make politics and politicians totally disappear, but a growing crescendo of local folks said they wondered if they could use the power to make the governor APPEAR in Niagara Falls to announce a settlement to the state/Seneca stalemate that is threatening the city’s solvency and remaining sanity.

One popular community organizer (future president?) shunned the whole idea of a magic wand to make the governor appear, sharing a telephone number (518-474-7516, or 518-474-8390) to hizonor’s office urging me and everyone I know to contact him, the governor, directly.

I also managed to get an email address that might evoke a response as well: And for those who might rather try their magical charms in writing the old fashioned way, you might try this: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

NYS Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

Whether you believe in magic or not, it might just be worth your while to give your wand a whirl.

You never know …

Contact Bill at