Abbotts 9th Get Together 1942
by Demon Rembrandt
By this time the good folks of Colon have come down to earth after all the razz-ma-tazz incident to having close to 400 Magicians in town for Abbott's Ninth Annual Magic Get-Together the last three days of Labor Day week. The official registration was 379, but there were many who came in for the Saturday night show and left without registering. Under normal conditions the registration figure would doubtless have been a record-breaker.
Howard and Teddy Strickler were the first to arrive, coming in Saturday night before Labor Day. However, they remained only until Monday, then Howard had to get back to Toledo for his defense activities, but they returned to Colon in time for the opening doings on Thursday night. Bob Fultz and his family of Waterville, Ohio, came in Sunday and spent the week.
By Thursday night there were enough Magicians in town to fill the Abbott Magic Theatre to overflowing for the opening show. From then on, there was continuous stream of Magicians and their guests pouring into town.
And the whole affair was truly up to the standard set by the host, Percy Abbott, now affectionately and generally known among Magicians as "The Caliph of Colon." The Caliph's Capers
The formal opening of the conclave was the usual "night before party" on Thursday night which was in the nature of a fun fest calculated to get the convention off to a good start, and it really set a fast pace. Under the general title of "The Caliph's Capers", a number of hilarious stunts were staged, interspersed between the Magic acts.
Lester Lake officiated as M. C. and introduced the acts in quick succession. Noel Spangler came first with cards and clever presentation of a hand rabbit with card sense; then came Warner the Magician with silks, die box, Puttin' in the Pocket - good comedy; Ward Bentley, billiard balls and silks; Duke Stern, with his clever, amusing and educational impersonations of "Mr. Average Magician"; then Walter Domzalski ("Dom"), wine to water presentation, and some spirit stuff; Madam Pinxy with her puppets presenting "Aladdin and his Servant"; Monk Watson with a comedy bit.
There was a break here for a disturbance in connection with a drawing for a tire (a miniature) won by Oscar Hackler, and a rising ovation for Nicola, world renowned Magician, who by this time had entered the auditorium.
Dave Fogo then came on with some coin tricks; then Bob Schneiderman, diminutive trixster, with a smooth presentation of the silk box and Victory Blendo; another interruption - this time a suggestion of the average ghost show; then Dr. Clyde Cairy with his bushel basket card trick in which he was assisted by nine spectators; then a grand presentation of cups and balls by Marvin Rush; John Braun's swell routine with the linking rings; and Doc Wellburn with his bible, almanac and calendar monologue.
Lester Lake then presented his newest creation, a sword box, then brought on Howard Strickler to do his paper tearing act. Closing was Percy Abbott, who came on as the Caliph to do his Magic bit. This was the signal for the closing roughhouse, the Magician doing hie work seriously, despite the audience's interest being distracted and interrupted by various "plants" selling drinks and popcorn, calling to one another, crowding down front, asking folks for chairs and otherwise disturbing the meeting.
Throughout the daytime and after the public shows with the exception of the time taken by the Magicians Only show Saturday afternoon, there were demonstrations in the Abbott Magic Theatre and Showroom. These sessions lasted until 2 a. m. each day.
The Saturday afternoon show was presented on a special platform in front of the paint shop building adjoining the main building at Abbott's. Lester Lake handled this show and introduced the acts, among them Madame Pinxy, who presented her grand Punch and Judy act; Harry Cecil with a trick he got from Jim Miller years ago, "Stop and Go"; Stan Abrams with coin and card tricks; Billy Pitts, silks; Ruth Oakes, card fans; Jim Whitehurst, sympathetic silk routine; Jimmy Trimble, some rope tricks; and Dr. Zina Bennett with fans with giant cards, using first one deck, then two decks and three decks.
Both the public shows were staged at the Colon Opera House, taxing the capacity of that playhouse, and inasmuch as all of the seats were reserved and most of them taken in advance, many (even those who had made long trips to Colon and without reserving their seats in advance) found there were no tickets to be had. Most of these were glad to stand throughout both performances.
The quality of the entertainment provided at these shows was well up to the standard set by previous Abbott's shows and there were many indeed who were of the opinion that this year's bills topped anything ever presented at any magical convention.
Greeting a full house on Friday night, Percy Abbott gave a welcome to all and then introduced "Monk:' Watson, who officiated as master of ceremonies to introduce the acts and incidentally to do a few tricks himself. After Monk had had some fun with the Chinese sticks, he brought on Billy Pitts of Fort Smith, Ark., who came on, immaculate in tails, to do a fast act with clean and showy Magic, closing with a beautiful production of many silks. Billy set the pace for the show and when 12-year-old Jo Ann Eberhart, of Mishawaka, Ind., state and national champion high school baton twirler, almost stopped the show with her brilliant exhibition, the pace was definitely established and throughout the show did not diminish.
Monk did the cut and restored necktie, then introduced Jack Ricketts of Battle Creek, who presented his milk routine, flag and other productions, with a number of comedy gags, particularly his production of giant men's lingerie, which made a hit with the audience.
Lester Lake came next with a variety of Magic, all of it with an unusual twist - sponge ball to rabbit - the "Green Family" silks - Tip-see with Coca-Cola - closing with his original puppet, a hanging effigy of Herr Schicklegruber.
Opening with a thimble routine, Dave Coleman performed the Chinese Linking Rings, and then proceeded to hypnotize his charming wife, petite Pauline, finally using her for his subject in his Anvil and Spike effect, he and Lester Lake with heavy sledges pounding the anvil 'til the sparks flew. Pauline was brought out of the spell and the act closed to thunderous applause.
Closing the first half were Jimmy and Mildred Mulcay, the best harmonica team in the business, friends of the M. C. and the House of Abbott, and they appeared with their instruments playing a varied program of tunes that brought down the house. These folks, resting from a vaudeville season, really provided a treat with their harmonica harmonies.
Following the intermission, Bob Lotz came on and with the assistance of nine youngsters from the audience, presented his magical fantasy, "Snow White's Christmas Party," the gifts for each of the youngsters, disguised with appropriate masks, being used for some sort of a magical effect,. A delightful kid act.
Then after Monk had worked Oscar, his reptilian card wizard, to the merriment of the crowd, came Al Saal who repeated the baffling manipulative act he presented here last year. Cigarettes, billiard balls, silks and cards were vanished, made to appear and multiply at will at the hands of this clever performer.
The next act was Mel of the Abbott staff who rapidly sketched with colored chalks a series of caricatures and trick pictures, closing with a portrait of Gen. MacArthur and a Red Cross nurse poster, all well received.
Mel then introduced a surprise, a stranger who would do one trick. He turned out to be Monk with an eccentric make-up and baggy suit. He did the paper hat and pants trick to introduce Shirley Wilcox, a lovely little dancer who made a hit particularly when she went into a platform cabinet and did a tap dance standing on her head. From then on the act was a riot, for Monk did his well known wire-walking stunt which always is grand clowning.
The closing act was one they had been waiting for, Percy Abbott and his three assistants, Gladys Abbott, Virginia Smith and Marjorie West doing a full stage illusion act with Find the Lady Cards, the Super-X Levitation, the Upside-Down Cabinet, then Percy's old vaudeville act, Chapeaugraphy, and a final illusion, "Where's the Caliph?"
On the Saturday night show, Magic gave away to comedy and novelties somewhat, yet there were enough Magic to make it a well-rounded and entertaining bill. Bill Dornfield ("Dorny" to you) who handled the Friday show last year, was the master of ceremonies, after the comedy motif was set by a turbaned Magician (it could have been Don Sweet) who was interrupted in his paper tearing act by stage hands and scene shifters.
Dorny introduced Nelson and Montrose, who did tricks with doves and rabbits, a streamlined egg-bag trick and produced almost an endless quantity of silks - a clean and smoothly presented act. Al Saal followed with a swift moving and clever act which he called "Trick Shadows", a shadowgraph novelty that went over well.
Then came Harold Ramm, Detroit nite club entertainer, who did some aerial fishing, did Abbott's new Making a Tire and ended with a beautiful silk and flag production.
Dorny followed with his clever stooge-for-the-night, Don Sweet, for a comedy bit, then introduced "Monk" Watson, who appeared in uniform as the disgruntled soldier, did a milk trick and presented his well-known "Letter from Home", then brought Jimmy Mulcay from the audience to do a hard tap dance, Monk joining in at the finish - well, almost the finish, for he landed in someone's lap in one of the lower boxes.
The next act presented some fast Magic - Percy Abbott and his assistants producing a shower of silks, Percy doing the blooming rose bush, clipping off the buds and throwing them into the audience, closing with the vanish of two doves and catching them in a net swung in the air, all of which the audience liked.
Jo Ann Eberhart then came on to repeat her hit of the previous night, adding illuminated baton and a musket-baton routines that brought rounds of applause.
The first half closed with a "crazy" interlude between Dorny and Don Sweet.
Al Zink of Detroit opened the second half with some clever coin tricks and his creations, the Daylight Frame, and Abbott's Coke Surprise. Then came Doc Hokum, otherwise Dave Coleman, who along with a comedy street faker spiel, did some Magic of a high quality, amusing the audience no end.
Lester Lake then brought in his three brain children, the chopper series, all produced at the Abbott plant - the Guillotine, the Chinese Chopper and Disecto - and with the aid of Don Sweet and a lady from the box, who turned out to be the charming magicienne, Jacqueline James, proceeded to demonstrate them. He closed with a Hawaiian scene painted with colored sands.
The next act was one of the features of last year, Bob Lots and his deft manipulative act with cigarettes and watches, and then Doc Wellburn and his Hollywood party act, in which he impersonated various well-known screen stars at the same time pouring out different drinks from a pitcher that seemed to hold Only water,
Dorny closed the show with a hilarious burlesque bit showing the Magician of the future - a chap who sat on a throne and described what he was going to do while assistant (again Don Sweet) did all the work, even submitting to a black eye when he and a spectator (Tom Libonar, and he did a grand job) wrestled in the aisle for the possession of the spectator's hat which Don wished to borrow and later ruined when the trick (pudding in the hat) failed. The audience got their money's worth in laughs from this act.
Music for the public show was provided by Don Bubb's Syncopators - Don at the piano, Duke Stern with his fiddle, and Jimmy Hansen at the drums.
After each public show there were eats at the Abbott plant, then the crowd filed into the Abbott plant and watched demonstrations until a late hour, the last session ending at 3 a. m. Sunday morning.
While most of the crowd got away early Sunday morning many remained until afternoon, and there was a sort of a forum session in the showroom of the Abbott plant until about 3 o'clock, when Percy and Gladys left for a bit of a rest.
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