Abbotts 14th Get Together 1947
by Demon Rembrandt
It was a grand week of magical activity for the hundreds of Magicians and lovers of Magic when they assembled for Abbott's 14th Annual Magic Get-Together in Colon the first week of September.
Registration figures on the gathering bettered last year's attendance, but at least a hundred Magicians came in for the Saturday night show and did not bother to register and this number would bring the attendance figure up to well over 700.
It was an international gathering this year, as Magicians were here not only from all parts of the United States, but from Canada, England, China and South America.
The Magicians started to stream in over the Labor Day weekend so that they might spend a few days visiting before the scheduled program began on Wednesday. And too, there was much Magic to be seen in the showroom at the Abbott plant, where Percy Abbott, Recil Bordner, Neil Sweet, and the managers of the four Abbott branch stores - Duke Stern, Karrell Fox, Tom Rainey, and Kenneth Allen - were kept busy demonstrating new effects. And the sales staff, augmented by Howard Strickler, Al Saal, Herb Borin, Phil Thomas and others were likewise kept busy.
Among the distinguished visitors were Arthur Dowler, English eccentric Magician, who, accompanied by Mrs. Dowler, made the trip from England especially to be on the Get Together shows; Cardini here with his wife and son for the wedding of his brother (The De Fakas) Wednesday night; Dell O'Dell "Queen of Magic", and her husband, Charles Carrer, top notch juggler; The De Fakas, John Braun, editor, Linking Ring; John Mulholland,' editor, The Sphinx; Edward W. Dart, editor, Conjuror's Magazine; Arthur Buckley, Paul le Paul, John Brown Cook, Eugene Bernstein, Adolph Boldt, Bert Allerton, Jimmy Trimble, Dave and Pauline Coleman, to name a few. A number of the regulars were absent and were missed.
In addition to the usual programmed features, the opening event on Wednesday, the "night before party" in the tent theatre was climaxed with the wedding of the De Fakas, a British magical team, whose act headlined the Saturday night public show. Preceding the wedding, the night was given over to a rapid succession of hilarious bits, contributed by Percy Abbott and Recil Bordner (two very funny skits, "The Lion Tamer" and (The Magician"), Neil Sweet, Alexander with two new wand effects (Abbott's); Arthur Dowler, who at the conclusion of his turn was presented a key to the city by Monk Watson, Juggler Fred Merrill, George Thompson in a side splitting street faker act, and Monk Watson, doing impersonations of Al Jolson and a musical director, with Dorny doing his usual swell job as master of ceremonies.
By Thursday, most of the crowd had registered and kept the showroom well filled every time a demonstration was announced over the loud speaker. Some remained outside the plant to watch fellow Magicians display their talents with cards, coins, hypnotism, or to pose for pictures. It seemed as though every visitor had a camera of some sort, and in addition newspaper and newsreel lens wizards were on the job posing groups near the plant and all over the downtown section. The newspapers in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo were generous in space given the Get-Together. Pictures of the wedding were released all over the country and wirephotoed to England.
The early part of the week was given over solely to Magicians' activities, but on Thursday night came the first public show with Arthur Dowler as the headline feature. When the lights went up, Percy Abbott appeared and greeted the crowd of 1300 which filled the tent to capacity, then introduced Sid Lorraine of Toronto as master of ceremonies, and the show was on. Richard Stoner, a juvenile Magician of Fort Wayne, opened with a variety of Magic; then came the Lawrences with rope spinning and juggling; Gene Gordon, with his hand puppet Fido, Find the Lady with giant cards, and an entertaining presentation of Chapeaugraphy; Al Saal, doing hand shadows which were well received, then Dowler. Dowler did his tricks of Magic in fine style, but it was his comic antics while on the stage that captivated the audience and brought roars from the crowd. Particularly funny was his apparent clumsiness as he bumped into various pieces of stage furniture to make skeletons and other grotesque figures pop up. His presentation of Hippity Hop Rabbits was a masterpiece.
After the intermission, Lester Lake presented the act which he performed as a member of a USO unit in Europe through the war. Bill Baird followed with his amazing manipulative act with silks, cards, billiard balls and the Chinese rings; then Florine, who with the help of Dr. Zola, John Braun, John Mulholland, Jack Lippincott, and Elmer Eckam, put on her Truth and Consequence act, which had its moments. Closing the show was Marquis, illusionist, who showed several illusions, among them the dancing handkerchief, and the buzz saw, and then a series of spook effects.
By Friday, the demonstrations in the plant showroom were fast and furious, and in the afternoon a set program of demonstrations of the latest Abbott effects, as well as some new ones brought over from England by Dowler to be manufactured by Abbott's, was staged by Percy and his corps of assistants, including Dowler. Many sales were made on these effects as soon as they were demonstrated and in some cases a limited number of orders were taken after a demonstration of the original model.
Another capacity crowd filled the tent for the second night show, which featured Dell O'Dell and Charles Carrer. Two zanies, Duke Stern and Karrell Fox, clowned through the master of ceremonies assignment, starting the show off with Walter Harris and his Punch and Judy act, which was more or less a novelty for most of the crowd. Then came Marquis, who astounded the crowd with his "sightless vision", reading numbers of borrowed bills, names on business cards and such while blindfolded. Carrer followed with the fastest juggling act ever seen in these parts and the crowd cheered him at the end of every feat, bringing him on for an encore bit and even then being reluctant to see him leave the stage. The first part was closed by Al Flosso, the Coney Island Faker, who with the help of one of the small boys in the front row, kept the audience howling all the while he did his Magic. Al could be on the Get-Together shows every year and still wow 'em.
Kenneth Allen of New York opened the second half with a neat presentation of effects utilizing silks and flowers. He was followed by Tom Rainey of Chicago, doing a cigarette to dove effect, aerial fishing, and a flower production; then Nancy Marilyn in a dance bit. Dell O'Dell then appeared and for the next thirty minutes the crowd was regaled with the wonders the "Queen of Magic" performed fcr them - rabbit productions, passe bottles, an umbrella trick, sand and sugar, the blooming rose bush (from which she cut a dozen or more real roses to pass out to ladies in the audience), winding up with a clock production with a giant alarm clock as a climax.
Saturday, a group of Magicians were rounded up by Percy Abbott and Al Saal of Toledo and were taken to Battle Creek where they performed in the auditorium and in the wards at Percy Jones hospital for the war veterans there. In this group were Jimmy Trimble, Gene Bernstein, the Lawrences, Harry Solomon, Al Zink, and Saal, who was M. C. on the auditorium show.
In the afternoon, while demonstrations were going on in the show room, Dr. Harlan Tarbell conducted his class in Magic in the big tent and about 50 Magicians spent a couple of hours at a real educational session.
On the closing night, a capacity house again filled the tent for the show on which the De Fakas and Arthur Dowler were featured. Mel opened the show with his rapid chalk sketching act, at the conclusion of which all lights were turned off and he drew two pictures in colors that glowed in the dark. He was followed by G. Ray Terrell, top flight night club performer, who presented a very smart act featuring magical cookery and started the Magic portion of the bill off in fine style; then Kim Kee in a colorful Chinese act featuring new wand and silk effects; the Mysterious Lawrences in a barrel escape and various bits of Magic. Belle and Roy De Faka, in a magical-musical act which the audience immediately appreciated, closed the first half. Giving an able rendition of the Greig Concerto on the grand piano to open the act, as well as providing musical accompaniment throughout, Belle showed herself to be an accomplished pianist. Roy appeared as the inebriated roysterer who on his night out had collected a lot of paraphernalia and it was all draped on his person until he was ready to make Magic with it. He made a hit with his rope tricks, particularly the stretching rope bit. They were recalled for many bows.
Following the intermission, Lester Lake presented several dancing puppets, finally bringing on a life size puppet which turned out to be Nancy Marilyn, the dancer. Then came Arthur Dowler in his second appearance and his cry of "Recitation" and his stumbling antics brought the house down. Dowler has a fine sense of comedy and while his Magic is incidental, he did do a repeat of the Hippity-Hop Rabbits and duplicated his previous hit with it. When the curtains parted for Mickey Ostasky, the audience saw a fine looking 16-year-old lad in tails who proceeded to do a grand act of Magic in graceful fashion, and he stopped the show with his presentation of "The Zombie". Karrell Fox, His Royal Slyness, "King of Korn" (and incidentally, Mickey's magical mentor and advisor) closed the show in a bedlam of just "dippy-mad" didoes, with the help of Vic Torsberg, Al Mack, Duke Stern and other helpers. The audience was still laughing as they left the tent.
Music for all the shows was provided by Gladys Abbott at the piano and Duke Stern and his violin, and they did a grand job. And as usual Lyman Hug handled the stage in his capable manner, with the help of Irene Hug, Bill Auten and Neil Sweet, so that every show was moved along smoothly.
After each night's show, the Magicians lined up on the Abbott campus for "coffee and" and then the showroom was opened for more demonstrations until as late as 1:30 A. M. This after show snack was taken in leisurely fashion except for the first night, when a shower hastened the feeding process a bit.
The last event of the week was in the tent Sunday morning when Father Paul Lloyd of St. Louis conducted mass for the Magicians who remained in town. Many Colonites also attended this service.
By Sunday afternoon all the Magicians with the exception of Dell O'Dell, Charles Carrer, Audley Dunham and his wife, and Nevin and Helen Hoefert, who remained until Tuesday to rest up a bit after the strenuous week.
Sunday too, Percy left for Detroit for a few days rest after all the excitement. He was accompanied by Mrs. Abbott, Arthur and Mrs. Dowler, Sid Lorraine and Al Flosso.
The week's activities were tiring for the entire Abbott staff, but it was worth it, and we all look forward to next year's Get-Together, which will be bigger and better than ever, as Percy says each year - and makes good.
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