Abbotts 10th Get Together 1943
by Demon Rembrandt
Colon is back to normal again after a very busy week playing host to the 524 Magicians and their guests who attended Abbott's 10th Annual Magic Get-Together. The three-day conclave closed Saturday, Sept. 11.
This event, officially scheduled for the last three days of Labor Day week, spread out this year to embrace the entire week, a good crowd of "early birds" coming in the week end before.
On Labor Day it looked as though there might be a spell of bad weather, but aside from a Jittle rain, there was no difficulty for the visitors in getting around the town. It was chilly, however, and more so at night, but it was comfortable in the tent for the shows and in the Abbott plant for demonstrations. Ordinarily, Get-Together week requires fans and air-conditioners on the job.
Most of the visitors departed immediately after the public show Saturday night, but many remained over until Sunday morning.
All were unanimous in their acclaim for the foresight shown by Percy Abbott in staging the public shows in the "Big Top" theatre, for even the tent's capacity was taxed to the limit. The combined audience for the Friday and Saturday night shows totalled nearly 3000, and although both shows were extra long, few left the tent before the final curtain.
It was quite a problem lodging and feeding the large crowd of visitors, although those who reserved rooms were taken care of easily and the others in the future will doubtless heed the warning "Make your room reservations early".
The Get-Together was a success from every viewpoint. The attendance was very close to the record set two years ago, when traveling and other conditions were a bit easier; everyone at Abbott's was kept busy showing new and old effects and buying was brisk; and to top it all off, the shows were the best ever presented here and with attendances the biggest of any previous gathering in Colon. One chap reported he counted three hundred cars in the vicinity of the tent theatre Friday night.
Three persons were definitely glad they came to the Get-Together, for regardless of the entertainment or other benefit they had, each was presented a $25 War Bond. They were Howard Strickler, who won the award for the best patriotic trick presented Thursday night, Mrs. John Mason of Centreville, and Joe Berg, Chicago Magic dealer, each of whom held a lucky ticket for the door prizes on the public shows.
Although the official opening of the Get-Together was not until Thursday night, many came in ahead of time and there were several impromptu shows at the Abbott plant Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The "early birds" in order of arrival included Howard and Teddy Strickler, Lyle and Opal Lantz of Elkhart; Mr. and Mrs. O. Lawson of Fort Wayne; Al and Ann Minder of Maplewood, N, J.; Tommy and Jeanne Windsor of Marietta, Ohio; Mr. and Mrs. R. McGreevy of Shreve-port, La.; and Joe and Fran Ovette of Buffalo. They came from all points of the country and later arrivals included Charlie Larson, Stewart Robson, John Mulholland, and Dorothy Wolff of New York; Phil and Kay Thomas of Baltimore; Stanley Wagg of Mill-town, N. J.; Jerry Sorenson of Denver, Colo.; Doc Mahendra of San Antonio, Texas; Ren Clark of Fort Worth, Texas; Ray Newton of Des Moines; Bill Schreiber of Minneapolis; Paul Stadelman and Lt. Lee Allen Estes of Louisville; John Braun, Stewart Judah and a gang from Cincinnati; and Dr. Harlan Tarbell, Bert Allerton, Earl Adcock, Zippy, Russ Walsh and others from Chicago.
By the time the "night before" party opened in the Magic Theatre - the big tent - Thursday night, there were a couple of hundred Magicians in town and many others came in from Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and other nearby points just for the evening's jamboree. In addition to the several hundred Magicians and their guests, the "night before" crowd included 200 soldiers from Fort Custer, guests of Abbott's, the invitation having been extended through Pvt. Richard Marks, now stationed at the Fort but who before he entered the service was prominent in magical circles in New York.
While the "night before" program was largely impromptu, it was a good show with a number of novelty acts interspersed with the Magic. It was "Victory Night" and featured a contest of patriotic tricks. Dorny was the master of ceremonies and he presented Bob Schniederman, boy Magician, with his card frame; Lester Lake with a series of illusions, closing with the March of Time, a patriotic piece; Jeanne Windsor, ventriloquist; Dave and Pauline Coleman with Magic, includng the famous linking ring routine; Mack Rush with various magical effects; Lt. Lee Allen Estes of the Kentucky State Police with a paper tearing bit which he uses in his safety programs; Jack Ricketts and Ed Baum, the former acting as "straight" to the latter's swami-dressed character in a comedy chalk act; Paul Stadel-man with a rope trick, his Rooster egg bag routine and the Tipsy-Turvy bottle trick; Burling Hull with his Victory cocktail stunt; H. J. Bonnert making animals and other objects from toy balloons; Charles Schoke, assisted by the M. C. in a patriotic bit in which Schoke as Hitler got it in the neck; Miss Audrey and her partner acting out songs on a phonograph including the hilarious "Sow Song"; then Howard Strickler with his prize winning Victory Bond trick; Gerber with several magical and juggling effects; the program closing with two violin solos by Duke Stern, Magi-musician, now with Abbott's.
The public shows in the tent theatre were both excellent and while both ran much longer than the usual Get Together shows, it was noted that the vast audience "stayed put" until the final curtain each night. It was a long time to sit on hard seats, but the eye and ear appeal of the performances made folks forget any discomfort.
On Friday night, Percy Abbott appeared on the stage promptly at 8 o'clock and greeted the assemblage, then introduced "Dorny" Dornfield as master of ceremonies and the show was on. First off came Chuck Kirkham, boy Magician of Battle Creek, who assisted by Miss Phyllis Lines, deftly produced silks and flowers in a beautiful presentation. Then came Ruth Oakes with three tricks including the Fantastic Fan and Abbott's Perplexity; Stan Lee with Miser's Dream, card fans, coin sleights and Hummer's Whirling Card; Jimmy Trimble in a clever chalk talk and character impersonation act; Don and Louise Sweet in a fast series of magical tricks, among them the 20th Century silks, razor blades, and a rope trick, all with plenty of comedy; Pingali and Pinella, with a mind reading act, closing with a hypnotic bit; Volta with his cocktail bar, who with the assistance of Miss Marie de Reviere, produced any drink called for; and Tom Osborne, who did some amazing Magic with a comedy touch - color changing hank, ring on wand, cut and restored tie and the vest and shirt removing stunts with a couple of assistants, closing the first half.
There was a short intermission in which candy was sold by a group of prominent Magicians, including Percy Abbott, John Mul-holland and Tommy Windsor who started "the pitch", giving the performance the true atmosphere of a tent show.
The show then went on with Al Minder doing his comedy drunk act in which he produced silks, cigarettes and liquor glasses and otherwise behaved magically, all the while garnering plenty of laughs with his tipsy antics; Judge Frank Carter and his dummy in a fine show of Vent, stunts; Phil and Kay Thomas with their Yogi rabbit production and vanish, a rope trick, card in frame, closing with a beautiful alarm clock vanish; Paul Sta-delman with a group of comedy effects; Dr. Tarbell with the vanishing wand, traveling clock, laundry ticket and the rice bowls; Harry Otto, old time vaudeville artist, juggling billiard balls as the human billiard table, and closing with the Diabolo sticks; the long show closing with the appearance of The Great Ovette, international Magician, presenting silk and flower effects and his Magic in the Chinese manner.
The Saturday night show was handled by Tom Osborne as master of ceremonies and in the intervals between acts, Tom did some manipulations and his cups and balls routine. Again the program opened with a clever boy Magician, Jim Whitehurst, assisted by Miss Marilyn Hopper in a flashy act which featured the Disecto illusion, and a Foo Can routine in which John Braun, assisting with Zippy, got wet. Jimmy Trimble appeared next with his floating cane and a rabbit production, then went into his cigarette act, one of the best. Then followed Volta and Company with a flag trick, cut and restored turban, card suspension, Soft Soap and the mutilated parasol;
John Mulholland, with the assistance of youngsters from the audience, doing sympathetic silks, cut and restored hank, and his classic presentation of the bird cage; Paul Sta-delman and Windy Higgins in a hilarious ven-triloquial turn.
The show was then interrupted by the candy peddlers, and the announcement that main prize given with the candy - a set of Passe-Passe bottles - was won by Doc Mahendra.
Two more acts in the first half followed this break, Gerber with his beautiful presentation of silk effects, knot ties, and giant card fans, and Lester Lake with his story of the Bs, and his puppets, in the working of which he was assisted by Virginia Smith and Marjorie West of the Abbott staff.
Dr. Carroll Ritchey appeared after the intermission with his "black light" act doing some Chinese Magic, silks and water fountain, the costuming and apparatus all glowing in beautiful luminous colors. Then came Dr. Tarbell with Abbott's Phantom Clock, egg in newspaper, and several rope tricks, including a rope version of Soft Soap; Don and Louise Sweet in a comedy singing and talking act, featured by Don's imitation of Eddie Cantor; Phil and Kay Thomas again appearing with a heautiful presentation, Kay doing a difficult juggling stunt with a hoop and a glass, and Phil giving a cooking lesson with a rabbit pan and repeating the vanishing alarm clock; Harry Otto doing Magic this time, a confetti and water trick, stamp album, and Sands of Sahara; Bob Lotz one of the stars of last year's show, doing his smooth cigarette and watch manipulative act; and lastly, The Great Ovette with some card effects including Cards to Pocket, egg manipulation, the Squared Circle, and his knots off the rope (advertised in this issue by Abbott's) again closing with his Chinese Magic.
Music for all of the shows was furnished by an orchestra composed of Duke Stern, Don Bubb and Jimmy Hanson. Backstage activities were in charge of Lyman Hug, with Bill Auten and Kelvin Gilbert assisting. Fred Merrill was the ticket taker and other members of the Abbott staff handled the job of seating the big crowd each night.
After each of the public shows a snack lunch was served outside the Abbott plant.
Through each day of the conclave, the activities centered largely in the Abbott plant, more so this year because of the chilly weather. There the visitors saw Magic to their heart's content, Percy Abbott doing most of the demonstrating, but being relieved at times by Lester Lake, Stuart Robson and others. On Saturday afternoon, Charlie Larson appeared with a presentation of several effects and Zippy the Clown presented his kiddie show.
In addition to all this activity, Dr. Tarbell gave his Course No. 2 to nearly 50 Magicians in the "Big Top" Saturday morning.
It's a long way off to the next Get-Together, but already Percy Abbott and his staff are planning on making it even bigger and better than the one just closed. Get your reservations in early.
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