Houdini owned a house in Manhattan too, but the Flatbush property was the general headquarters for the brothers, because it had the advantage of a big barn-like structure at the rear of the plot which housed the wondrous array of magical apparatus and stage illusions used in their performances, ready to be moved out as required by their schedule of engagements.At first I became acquainted with Houdini's little dog, Bobby, and got to know the brothers through him, doing little chores and errands for the magicians. I was just going on 10 years of age at the time. They took a liking to me, especially Houdini; the Houdinis had no children. The following year (1917) I was given the job of keeping the big storage building neat and tidy – I was then in seventh heaven.I earned their implicit trust in regards to "keeping mum." In return for my work they, particularly Houdini, taught me the fundamentals of magic when at the GHQ, though they traveled considerably, often worldwide.I never divulged any of the secrets of the spectacular apparatus, despite the fact that it did not take me long to catch on, due to the amount of time I spent figuring things out. I also watched them perform on stage and elsewhere whenever they were in the New York metropolitan area or even in Atlantic City, one of Houdini's favorite spots. Hardeen had two sons around my age but neither one took any interest in magic.
The topic then turns to aviation. Scanlan notes that after Houdini's historic first flight in Australia ("Long before I knew him") newspapers ran articles about the danger of Australia possibly being invaded by aircraft from Japan. Scanlan continues:
Houdini was deeply impressed by these news stories and recalled them for years thereafter, when I knew him, and long after he had given up flying – "a young man's game," he would say.Houdini was the one who later inspired me to take to the 'wild blue yonder' – I was 14 at the time – and he said, "It's fine to build those model airplanes you occasionally turn out but learn to fly the real thing; it's never too early to start learning." Despite the fact that here was a man who was continually risked his own life, sometimes two or three times in a single day (which he took great enjoyment in doing), shackled handcuffed, sealed up in a crate or trunk and dropped off a bridge, for example, and yet he said: "life's greatest thrill is flying – alone."
I'll always be indebted to Houdini for arousing my interest in flying, alone, and even when I moved to an apartment in Greenwich Village – still in my teens – I kept in touch with the two brothers.
Houdini could escape from anything – except from those minds and hearts of those who saw him, who knew him, who loved and admired him.
In 1976 Scanlan published a book about overcoming alcoholism, The A to Z System, is which he mentions his friendship with Houdini and Hardeen. He died at age 82 at his home in Red Bank, New Jersey on August 2, 1990.