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Abbotts 6th Get Together 1939

by Bill Spencer

The late 1930's. . .early Get-Togethers in Colon.

Percy Abbott acquires the word "gimmick." He chirps in a high voice: "What's the gimmick? What's the gimmick?" John Braun looks friendly, John Mulholland gentlemanly, Alvin Plough serious, and H. Adrian Smith bookish. Smith forces a card on me.

Strolling along the street in front of the place that mails out miracles for a price. Doc Mahendra tells a bawdy joke. That evening, he'll do a serious mind-reading turn. . .crystal ball in hand.

Down the way is the show tent. M. C. Sid Lorraine mimes his invisible needle and thread. Karrell Fox does something nutty with empty cardboard boxes.

In the crowded showroom, rub-off card pips are selling. Black rubber cement that makes clubs look like spades. Before rubbing. Outside, hustlers try to sell their own tricks. A form of free enterprise that the host frowns on.

A hefty lawyer from Chicago plies his hypnotism hobby. Conversation indicates that he has Mafia clients.

Burned alive...outdoors. Daredevil climbs into a metal box, which is covered with a load of hay. Big bonfire. He emerges ashy, but triumphant.

And...wasn't it '39?...the English headliners in the Kellogg auditorium at Battle Creek. Cardini himself. The wonderful precision. . .the timing. All of the assistants for all of the acts move just right. Every spotless prop in its proper place.

The late 1970's...Abbotts 40th Get Together.

I want to go back. She knows she'll be bored, but she's a good sport. A promise to visit Win Schuler's original restaurant in nearby Marshall improves my case. We will eat there twice. Also, we will find that Patterson's in Sturgis offers a respectable steak. Useful information . . .for the mature with respect for their middles.

I enrich the phone company, using a mimeo list of motels sent by Abbott's. Finally, I snag the only remaining room within a 25-mile radius of Colon. A month later, we take the wrong direction off the interstate. Par.

While I'm at lectures, she uses the motel's pool. She talks to people. The fellow next door, from Terre Haute, is into "up close." Well, that makes sense.

Some of her other reactions. The showroom in the elementary school at Colon looks like "a Salvation Army store in the wrong part of town." Magicians are conservative. Proof: They part their hair near the middle. "And the older ones part their wigs that way." Agreement with other wives: "They never get over it."

I am physically reminded that magic is visual. Much craning of the neck. Head, jaw, and neck ache later. A lot. Especially the next day. Also, advertised air conditioning gets feeble in the second half of each show. Victim of warm enthusiasm, many bodies.

How about a two-year moratorium on torn and restored newspapers? We award both palms to the velvet clad lad from Long Beach, the one with the birds. Van Cleve's Merlin breaks us up with his table levi-tation.

Ger Copper's lecture offers some hints on how the Dutch workers use all those pockets inside their coats. Not in the notes, though. But what do I expect for three bucks? Anyhow, criticism is for experts.

An observation. Magic spans a wide generation gap. So many there looked under 20 or over 40. Maybe it's always been that way among non professionals. Early addiction. Later reversion. Or is that too fancy?

In one way, the 1977 Get-Together was familiar. I met some nice people and learned a couple of knots. Otherwise, Abbott's and Colon aren't the same. Why should they be? How could they be?

How about next year? Groans and a grab at the back of the neck. We'll see.









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