Abbotts 8th Get Together 1941
by Demon Rembrandt
With one of the greatest of Magic conventions a matter of history, Percy
Abbott, impressario of his Eighth Annual Magic Get-Together at Colon, took
a deep breath, and immediately started making preparations for the Ninth
Annual next year. "Bigger and better than ever" is still his slogan for these
And not only Percy, but many of the departing Magi had thoughts of
next year's conclave at Colon, announcing that they would be back again
next year, and some even went so far as to engage rooms for the Magic
Week of 1942.
The crowd this year surpassed all similar affairs staged by Abbott, the
attendance figure being placed at 530, calculated on the number of cards
signed by the visitors, with no account taken of those who came in the last
night and did not call for badges and tickets.
And among that crowd were many distinguished members of the profession,
some of them attending for the first time, all of them voting it the
greatest convention ever. Among these were Charles Larson, well known
collector of magical items and a consistent conventionnaire, although this
was the first time he attended an Abbott affair; Ed Reno, beloved patriarch
of the profession; Dr. Harlan Tarbell, and presidents and past presidents of
most of the major magical associations. Three past presidents of the S.. A.
M. were there - Werner Dornfield, Eugene Bernstein, and H. Adrian
Smith. the president of the I. B. M., Bob Anderson, and the past president of
that organization, John Snyder, Jr.; Judge Frank Carter, past president of
the Houdini Club; and all four presidents of the Magicians Guild of America
- A. Warsaw, Jim Miller, Clyde Cairy and Walter Z. Harris, now heading
The large crowd taxed the housing facilities of Colon, but all were taken
care of, and many were the expressions lauding the folks of Colon for their
Early Birds Arrived Early
Magicians began rolling into town Sunday afternoon, the first to arrive
being Loring and Kathryne Campbell, who came from California with a brief
stop at Lakeside, Ohio, and Bellcamp the Magician, who had just completed
a successful summer tour of Michigan summer resorts. Although the programmed
activities of the Get-Together did not begin until Thursday night,
there were enough "early birds" in town to have a show Wednesday night,
so one was arranged. Lester Lake was introduced as M. C. and he introduced
Dr. M. D. Overholser of the University of Missouri faculty, who did a
novel giant card routine; followed by Loring Campbell and his pop up cigars;
then Charlie Larson, who exhibited some of his pet effects; Roy Hall with a
rope trick, and Percy Abbott showing some of his latest creations. Ray
Cox also broke into the proceedings to demonstrate the Abbott Shrunken
Demonstrations in the Magic Theatre and showroom made the Abbott
plant hum with activity Thursday, with more and more visitors coming in. being sounded intermittently by Howard Strickler, who was general chairman
in charge of extraneous etnertainment (whatever that is). Incidentally, he
did a good job of it, as always.
The new enlarged and revamped Abbott showroom was a revelation to
the visitors and when Percy cried "Demonstration" there was a rush for the
chairs to see the mysteries he had to unfold. The Magic Theatre's stage, a
part of the showroom, was ideal for good presentation of every effect, all
being shown under actual "show" conditions.
One of the features Thursday afternoon was the appearance outside the
plant of an ambulance which brought Jesse Thornton from the hospital where
he had been confined since his accident last May. This gave his many
friends at the convention a chance to say "Hello" and chat with him briefly.
Razzle Dazzle Night a Riot
Thursday night came the fun feature - the scheduled night before
party - Razzle Dazzle Night - and this was a riot of fun as well as a good
Magic show. Howard Strickler of Toledo, abetted by Ray Cox and Bill
Williston of New York, all zanies of the first water, kept the thing going at
a rapid pace with crazy stunts interspersed between the scheduled acts.
After Percy Abbott had greeted the assemblage, Strickler, Cox and Williston
took over and to start the fun sold prize packages of candy, and later
prize Magic packages, the funds obtained in this way being used later to
finance a crazy auction staged by Strickler and Percy, a hilarious bit which
closed the evening.
Percy then introduced Lester Lake as M. C. and after Mervin Goode of
the Abbott staff sang "God Bless America" with audience participation, the
program was on. Programmed were many Magicians who had appeared on
Abbott shows before along with many who were participating for the first
Early in the proceedings, Bill Williston, featured performer on the public
shows and a premier gag artist himself (he and Ray Cox arrived from New
York wearing fur coats and straw hats - and it was hot in Colon!), was
given an oversize golden key to Colon, Chuck Elliott posing as the Mayor
to make the presentation.
Bill responded to this with a neat acceptance speech, in which he expressed
embarrassment at not being prepared for the presentation. He recalled
one other embarrassing moment, the time he peeked through a keyhole
and saw another eye.
Williston Loses Shirt
Insistent demands came then for Bill to do a trick, so he came out with
the bird cage. Someone called out "Do it again," and as he got set, Bill called
for a committee and offered dough to any of them who could find the
bird cage on his person after he had vanished it. The bird cage went, and
so did the committee - to work on Bill. His coat came off, so did his shirt
- in shreds - and the four committeemen each emerged with a bird cage
in his hand.
On the Magic side, Arnold Furst came on with Fresh Fish; Joe Brown
was on and off with a half-minute feather fan production; Frank Csuri appeared
in uniform and presented a smooth orange and silk routine and the
card fans that made such a hit last year; Ray Cox did Bank Nite; Dr. Cairy,
By this time the convention was in full swing and the keynote of "Fun" was glass of water production and his Do-As-I-Do rope trick. Then came the
Zilch Sisters in their Dance of the Veils, a very funny bit with Percy and
Loring Campbell at their crazy best.
Vin Carey followed with a neat presentation of a bullet release; then
came Billy Pitts, with ping-pong ball manipulations; and Loring Campbell
with Lorraine's A. B. C. trick.
Following the intermission which Percy killed with the sale of the prize
Magic packages, with the assistance of his screwball super-salesman, Dr.
Daley came on with his blindfold poker deal; and Percy did a vent bit. At
this point the M. C. called for a vote whether the show should go on, the
night being a hot one. The response being unanimously "pro", Charlie
Larson exhibited his card wheel and the king and queen; Don Reaser appeared
with the vanishing cane, Levante cabinet and razor blades; George
Boston with a ribbon trick; and finally Lester Lake with his Money Blocks
and Chinese Siamese Twins.
Closing the evening came the crazy auction, which put the house into
The Magicians Only show came on Friday afternoon and this was staged
under the canvas in front of the plant. Lester Lake appeared again to
handle the show and introduced Si Stebbine, who performed his amazing
card tricks; Joe Berg with a blank deck. Arnold Furst, Fresh Fish; Mike
Zens, two-card prediction; Doug Harrison, card frame penetration; Jack
Bradley, milk vanish; Monk Watson, some unusual card work and gags;
Dornfield with four fast stories; Jimmy Trimble, Hindoo wands; Frank
Caesar, rope through neck; and Eugene Bernstein with a hypnotic act.
Lester Lake closed with his spirit pictures and Siamese twins.
The Show of Shows
The first public show on Friday night was the last word in all Magic
shows and the consensus was that it set the pace for some time to come.
With Dorny doing a splendid job as M. C, the program moved along at a
rapid pace, each act vieing with the others for top honors on the bill. Vin
Carey opened with an entertaining paper tearing routine along with his
Chinese rings and other Magic. Then Loring Campbell appeared with his
beautiful rag picture act. Don Sweet with clean cut Magic including the
Twentieth Century and razor blades; Bob Hummer in a pantomimic Magic
act that was a comedy hit; the first half closing with Ray Cox and his fast
presentation of Magic with the assistance of George Boston.
Opening the second half came Al Saal with cigarette and watch effects
done in Saal's usual smooth manner. Si Stebbins then moseyed from the
wings in the rube character he created in the vaudeville days and baffled
the Magi and others in the chairs with his card tricks. Plato and Jewell
were next in the class act that has made them nite club favorites; then came
Percy Abbott with the Up-and-Down illusion, a beautiful and baffling presentation,
followed by the closing riot staged by Magic's "Hellz-a-Poppin",
Bill Williston, who did Magic, fired pistols, gagged, had fun with a couple
of boys and a large piece of ice, and otherwise turned the opera house into
Both public shows were sell-outs long before curtain time and many
availed themselves of the standing room both nights. Williston appeared as M. C. on the Saturday night show and between
the acts did his minute-and-half Linking Eing routine and other Williston
tricks and gags. Opening were Plato and Jewell with cards, diminishing
cards and the sucker egg; then Jimmy Trimble with a beautiful presentation
of Troublewit; Dr. Tarbell in a short but satisfying demonstration of his
Eyeless Vision; Buss Walsh in his well known Magic game of golf, a real
hit; with Ray Cox closing the first half with his dove circus, a beautiful presentation.
In the intermission, Williston appeared and gave out alleged door
prizes, the winners - or victims - being presented items ranging from a
string of sausages to a sack of flour and a metal wash tub.
On the second half, Eldon Nichols showed a fine rabbit vanish and some
spectacular effects; followed by Loring Campbell with Here, There and
Everywhere, cut and restored bands. Bob Lotz with some smooth cigarette
and watch manipulations; Dorny with some crazy card tricks with the assistance
of Monk Watson; Bob Hummer in a repeat of his comedy act; and
Hay Cox closing with Clippo, rod through woman and the Rose Bush.
Music for the two shows was provided by an orchestra made up of boys
from the Abbott plant, Warren Conklin, saxophone; Bob Dougherty, bass;
and Don Bubb, director, at the piano.
After the show each night refreshments were served in front of the
Abbott plant, the Saturday night repast assuming the proportions of a buffet
supper. Then the plant was opened and there were demonstrations for a few
more hours. When the plant closed, many of the conventionnaires adjourned
to the Abbott annex under the canvas to chat and do card tricks until the
dawn. By Sunday noon, most of the visitors had departed.
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