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Abbotts 15th Get Together 1948

by Demon Rembrant

A surprise climax marked the closing of the 15th annual Abbott Magic Get-Together at Colon Sept. 11, after a gala week of magical activity. This surprise was the unheralded and unannounced appearance on Saturday night's show of Edgar Bergen, famed ventriloquist and radio and screen star, together with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and his fellow travellers, Pat Patrick and Jim Sherman.

Surprises are not an uncommon thing at the Abbott affairs, but this one was so sudden and unexpected that even forewarned that afternoon, Percy was almost pinching himself to see if it was all real. And the several hundred Magicians - there were more than 700 of them at the Saturday show - and another several hundred of the public who crowded into the big tent were extremely glad they were there and gave Bergen a real ovation, a great number rising in tribute - to this splendid artist.

All this brought to a brilliant close a full week of Magic, fun, and general good fellowship, and many were heard to say that this Get-Together was the best of all of Percy's parties.

The Magicians come to Colon for a good time - good fellowship, good magic, and good shows - and they have it; and they come back each year, bringing a few newcomers. Thus the registration figure increases each year and this year it reached 676, but as usual many came in the last day who did not register, maybe a hundred of them, so it's safe to say the attendance was more than 700.

Of course the arrival of Bergen and his associates intrigued all and hit the high spot but the gathering was otherwise featured with the usual high standard shows, excellent educational features, and good demonstrations of magic throughout the week.

Opening on Labor Day, many of the early visitors came in for the few days of the long week end. Others brought their house trailers In prepared to stay the week. Dell O'Dell, Magic's first lady, and her husband, Charles Carrer, top-notch juggler, who were featured on the public shows, arrived the Saturday before in their "super-dooper" house on wheels, and with the trailers of the Hoeferts and the Prestons, all located on the-Abbott corner lot, and with the extra tents outside the plant, produced a truly carnival atmosphere.

Well not list here the well knowns in the field of Magic who attended, It would be a veritable "Who's Who in Magic." Suffice it to say that but few of the regulars were missing and the usual quota of "names" were on hand for the doings.

Although the regular Get-Together program did not open until Wednesday night when the "night before party" was staged, the "first two days of the week were occupied by a convention of junior Magicians, who call themselves The Counts of Conjuring. These lads, some thirty of them, got together Tuesday and elected a new president, Paul Anton of Nashville, Tenn., the retiring president, George Thompson of Cincinnati, being elected vicepresident. Other officers - all from Cincinnati - are: John Herrmann, secretary; Ray Bedwell, membership chairman; and Edwin Ireton treasurer.

The Counts of Conjuring also staged the show on Tuesday in the auxiliary demonstration tent just outside the plant. George Thompson was M. C. and opened the show with Michael Franks, a diminutive 12-year-olderf who showed fine skill with billiard balls; Ken Allen with ring on silk and the Last Card; Charles Schutz - Deuces Wild; Davy Jones, who made an individual hit with his comedy Magic, and whose "Oh, Percy!" whenrhis candle tube trick failed to work, became almost a by-word for the rest of the week; John Herrmann - cards; George Thompson - Disecto; Paul Anton - cards; Ray Bed well - squared circle, silks, Kuller Deck, and Soft Soap; Antonio - sucker passe bottles, and brassiere; Lee Henneberry - cigarettes; Date Brandon - cards; and Marko - silk productions, billiard balls and a fake mental act. For the "night before party" Wednesdav night several hundred Magicians and invited guests sat through two hours of clever vaudeville skits mostly of the comedy nature with just enough Magic for atmosphere - and all of the Abbdtt troupe of zanies participated - Percy himself in another of his burlesque Magic acts, assisted by Recil Bordner; Dorny, who also emseed the show; Monk Watson, Howard Strickler, Carlo Summers, Karrell Fox, Joe Karson, Gene Gordon, and Duke Stem.

One of the treats for Magicians was the opening number - Percy Abbott in a colorful Magic act with his family, Jules, Sydney, Marilyn, and Linda in bright costumes assisting. Otherwise the Magic on the program was contributed by Vernon Carr, who did some tricks with ropes and his version of Zombie, Antonio in a variety of Magic, Davy Jones, who repeated his comedy hit of the previous night, and Bert Allerton, who presented his Attaboy Poker Deal (TOPS, April, 1947).

Halfway through the proceedings, Dorny introduced the first visitor to this year's gathering, Arthur Nimz of Los Angeles, who came to Colon on August 12 and camped on the shore of Palmer Lake, awaiting the opening He was presented the usual wooden medal, gilded a bit, and a trick from the House of Abbott.

Demonstrations continued throughout the daytime and after the shows at night, and from time to time in the special demonstration tent just outside the main building. There also was a smaller tent, where devotees of the hanky panky type of Magic - close-up stuff - were continually passing the time away trying to fool their fellow tricksters. Stars on these impromptu programs were Bobo, Harry Louine, Louis McBride, Frank Drobina and Eddie Mario. Also in the demonstration tent at intervals on the last three days were clever exhibitions of Punch and Judy in the hands of Augustus Rapp, veteran Magician and show man.

Another feature of the affair was the radio program staged in the Abbott showroom by Ed McKean of the Kalamazoo station on Thursday afternoon. This program was turned over to Domy who introduced Percy Abbott, Dell O Dell, Bobo, Bill Neff, Dr. Saa, Ed Dart and Mel, closing with a fast trick by Duke Stern. The first public show was given in the big tent in Central Park, and there was an overflow crowd long before Percy Abbott appeared on the stage to open the proceedings with the traditional tent show opener - the candy sale which was fast and furious for five minutes, and many of the Magicians received some fine prizes. The candy sale was also repeated on the other nights.

Percy then introduced Dorny as master of ceremonies and he carried on from there, bringing on the opening act, Danny 0'Day one of the Chicago Abbott managers who performed a variety of Magic - glass penetration, silks, and newspaper tear - to give the show a good start. Bobo wak next with a fast act with ropes and silks; then Earl Davis, a talkative juggler, who made a hit as much with his patter as with his juggling which was very entertaining. Merv Taylor then appeared as a professor who dabbled in Magic and did a razor blade trick, and some of his original creations, including the comedy linking rings with a lot of comedy patter; then Louis Mc- Bride, ventriloquist had a few hilarious moments with his pal, Silas. The -first half was closed by Chan Lee, otherwise Joe Karson, assisted by Ann Karson, doing their version of Chinese Magic.

Gene Gordon opened after the intermission with his magical quiz, then Percy Abbott appeared and introduced Arthur Buckley, who was a boyhood chum and magical confrere in Australia, and Buckley showed his manipulative skill with billiard balls and cards. Then Monk Watson, Colon's own, who had been busy with a raft of funny bits with Domy throughout the show, came on to do his orchestra director and Jolson impersonations and "stopped the show' Professor Cheer then appeared for an accordion solo but before it was over, the instrument exploded and from then on it was a comedy act with a musical saw, imitations, and a bit in which he played "Nola" using his head as an xylophone. The show closed with a brilliant and colorful act bv Nivelli, who went through a gamut of silk productions, liquid tricks, closing with a clever presentation of Zombie.

The Friday night show was featured by the return appearance of Dell O'Dell, premiere magicienne, who repeated her success of last year, and Chas, Carrer, juggler, who did likewise. Dorny was again M. C. and introduced Louis McBride, who did some coin magic and a rope escape and then an encore with a Vent bit, a drinking scene with Silas George Coon, the other Chicago Abbott manager, then came on to do tricks with liquids and an egg bag from which he produced not only eggs but a wild rooster, and then a rope escape. The stage cleared then for Karrell Fox who clowned his way through an hilarious routine and no one cared whether it was Magic or not - it was fun. Charles Carrer closed the first half with his magnificent juggling of glasses, plates, and bottles; and cocktail shakers a la Devil Sticks.

Opening the second half was Doris King of Quiney, with two numbers on her marimba; then Duke Stem in his pantomimic act impersonating the young Magician with various tricks, concluding with the disappearing birdcage; then Arthur Buckley again for a masterly presentation made up entirely of coin manipulation. Then came Dell O'Dell to close the show with her fast and unusual Magic, the hit of which to Magicians and public alike were her parasol trick, rabbit production, and Sands of India, which in the hands of this performer seemed like miracles. She also presented in her own inimitable fashion the chopper guillotine, rose bush, linking rings, duck pan production. Opening the show Saturday, with Dorny still in the M. C. role, was Kirkpatrick, former police chief of Fort Wayne, whose father was Frederick La Dell, well-known Magician of another day. He produced and vanished doves at will, and a variety of colorful Magic. Bobo appeared next, assisted by his wife, with dyeing silks, bewildering blocks, jap box productions and a rabbit vanish; then Joe Karson doing his comedy Magic act with a fapt appearing and vanishing fish bowl which the audience never saw and some crazy card stuff. An illusion act, presented by Charles Worpell of Detroit and three assistants, came next - a cabinet vanish, Super-X levitation, cane through body being his best. Dorny then introduced three boys from the JLamb Knit Goods Co. of Colon, who had been practicing Magic. They turned out to be Bergen and his cohorts - Pat Patrick and Jim Sherman. Patrick appeared first and introduced Jim Sherman as Abner Crotchworthy, and Jim did a swell job of babbling the linking rings and was hustled offstage. Then Patrick came on to do his Ercil Twing bit which is one of the features of the Bergen-McCarthy air show, and finally Bergen was announced as a lad who imitated Edgar Bergen. When he appeared with Charlie McCarthy, however, there was no doubt in the mind of anyone that he was no imitator, and he was given a tremendous ovation. He performed his act with Charlie and then encored with Mortimer Snerd, That act was enough to stop any show, and after Percy came qn to voice his appreciation, Dorny had to wait until the applause subsided before he could announce the intermission.

The second half was opened by Nevin who took the audience around the world with brilliantly colored rag pictures. Walter Harris and his wife then presented their puppet act in which a trapeze artist, a jitterbug team, a clown, and dancing skeletons vied for top honors. The next act was Monk Watson who repeated his show-stopping with the tight rope walker impersonation, the Wabbit Song, and a Jolson number for an encore. The show was closed with a fast and brilliant Magic act in the hands of Harrison and Lina from Montreal. Harrison produced flowers, doves, live gold fish, did an "any drink" trick, and a spectacular needle trick.

Music for the three public shows was provided by Gladys Abbott at the piand and Duke Stern on the violin, Handling the stage was Lyman Hug, assisted by Bill Auten.

Aside from these performances, there were two fine educational sessions in the hands of Arthur Buckley - on Friday he explained the sleight workings of his act with billiard balls and cards, and on Saturday afternoon a similar program explaining his act with coins. Also, Sgt. Herbert German of the Detroit Police Department gave his "safety first'* Magic show for Colon school pupils on Thursday. There also was a session of the minister- Magicians and others interested in doing Magic in object lessons in Sunday school and other work in the church. The members present of this organization - the International Religious Magicians Assn. - elected the following officers: Preston, president; Dr* Harlan Tarbell, Mrs. Zina Bennett, Rev. Paul Lloyd, vice-presidents; Richard Watson, secretary- treasurer; and Sherrill Nunnelly, publicity director. The highlight of the meeting was Dr. Tarbell's inspiring stories about the prominent part religion has played in the lives of the world's greatest Magicians, and part of this was used by the local Methodist pastor, Mr. W. E. Tunms, also a Magician, in his sermon the Sunday following the affair.

Most of the crowd left Saturday night after the buffet supper on the Abbott grounds but there were many still in town Sunday and attended the mass conducted by the Rev. Father Paul Lloyd of St. Louis in the big tent. Many also stayed 6ver for last looks and purchases in the showroom, and to meet Bergen, Patrick, and Sherman, who spent several hours in the showroom and mingling with the Magicians outside the plant, also signing autographs and posing for numerous snapshots.

The Bergen party, after a dinner at the Schuler Hotel in Marshall as guests of Mr, and Mrs. Percy Abbott, at which Marian Nicola also was a guest, left for Chicago Sunday night.

Did I forget to tell you to get your reservations in early for the 1949 Get-Together? Labor Day, you know!








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