by Percy Abbott
As stated in last month's TOPS, there will be no Get-Together in Colon in 1950.
Here are the reasons: Outside interference - local price raises - peddling of Magic - vulgar pictures.
Through the past few years, a clique of Magicians has formed, headed by Chic Schoke of Chicago, who stated that this group consists of Magicians from other cities as well as Chicago (he specifically mentioned Detroit and New York). Clique may not be the right word, but for this story it will suffice. This group got together and held impromptu shows, mostly after our regular night shows.
There is no reason in the world why we should object to Magicians getting together and having a good time - and we never have - but this group invited only certain people and whenever we had a celebrity or a newcomer "name" Magician they would grab him. They have never given any thought or consideration to the majority of visitors who might have seen these same celebrities in the after-show sessions in the showroom. Many of these visitors protested to me - Why couldn't they get in on these affairs! Wasn't this an Abbott Get-Together? Did some have special privileges, etc? The complaints were many.
So, before this Get-Together just passed, I went to Chicago and explained in detail to Mr. Schoke our objections to these affairs the way they were being conducted. Mr. Shoke stated that there was never any intention of doing anything to cause us trouble, etc. And I believed this was so. Then I offered him our small tent to be set up near the large tent so that these affairs could continue, but be open to anyone, and he would be in charge. Mr. Schoke said he would see the other fellows and let me know. A couple of weeks before the Get-Together he came to Colon and said the tent idea was okay.
So up went the tent - with stage, piano, etc. The first part of the Get-Together week, I took Mr. Schoke to look at the tent to see if everything was to his liking. He was enthusiastic over the setup - but neither he nor his crowd ever used the tent. If for any reason Mr. Schoke was unable to run things in the tent, he surely had others to substitute for him. We know that we had cold weather this year, but have you ever heard of weather stopping Magicians from watching a Magic show?
Thus, the only conclusion I could come to was that there was no intention on their part to co-operate toward the general success of the affair. Many Chicago Magicians did not participate in the activities of this group and personally applauded my stand. We have been successful in providing for our guests through the years - and it must be remembered that they are our guests. We work hard before and during the affair to make sure that everyone will enjoy it, and if we cannot run our party our way - and that is to please and satisfy the majority, then it is foolish to continue to have so many dissatisfied because a clique develops.
Right in the early days of this affair, the outstanding features were - no cliques - no politics - no meetings, etc.
Do we have to tell you of the hard work, months ahead of time, and the thought put into the planning of an ever bigger and better Get-Together? But all that is nothing. We all look forward to these gatherings, always striving to make each one better, searching out new faces, new personalities for the shows. It's not an IBM or SAM affair - just a friendly Magic Get-Together. If conveniences are not up to city standards, aren't there other compensations to offset this. No high registration fee to pay, just admission price to the shows.
Are we wrong to wish to run our affair our way without outside opposition and interference?
Now the local angle - Mrs. Abbott personally checks rooms and cottages in advance and rates are set and recorded. .We go to this trouble for the protection of our guests. And yet some room rents have soared when the guests checked in. Let me relate one incident. Joe Karson was set at the rate of $3.50 (the double rate). When he checked in he was charged $5.00. I learned about it next day and I checked him out and into another place where the rate was right. Joe didn't squawk - he co-operated all the way and moved at no little inconvenience.
Two restaurants raised their regular prices. I have taken this up with the local council and they have promised to co-operate in any future affairs of this kind. This condition can be straightened out.
Peddling of Magic - This too can be stopped with the co-operation of guests - and also by the city council. Are we out of order in restricting the sale of Magic to ourselves. We work hard demonstrating and we bear the expense of promoting the Get-Together. We sell no space and grant no selling rights to dealers. In all this, we are not taking exception to Magicians swapping or making deals between themselves.
Now can you imagine anyone offering vulgar pictures for sale at the Get-Together - or any gathering of Magicians! Yes it was done, and we say emphatically that this kind of thing does not belong at any Abbott Magic Get-Together.
Do you know that we always have a number of youths present and we personally promise their parents that there will be nothing but good clean fun for them - and we try to get them to their rooms at a reasonable hour. You might say, "Why worry about things like this?" Believe it or not, we do our best to think of all our guests. We want them to be satisfied.
We must have had a fair measure of success with this formula, because, year after year, they come back.
You all might be interested to know how the financial end of an Abbott Get-Together is operated. Here it is: We try to make the "take" at the shows at the main tent balance the expenditures for these shows only. The show expense consists of putting up and taking down the tent, wind and storm insurance and $100,000 liability/ insurance, advertising, and the payment for the acts. It doesn't always balance but near enough to satisfy us. The Abbott Company pays for the night lunches and some other incidental expenses such as hourly pay for car drivers making runs to nearby towns for guests, etc.
We have received a lot of letters since the closing of the last Get-Together and we are happy to say that every one has upheld our stand and hoped that the Abbott Get-Together would be resumed. We would like to hear from you. Suggestions and ideas will be very much appreciated.
But don't think that business has anything to do with our decision. This year's attendance was the biggest - the same applies to our sales.
In closing let me say that I have no enmity in this matter. I still consider Magicians from Chicago, Detroit, New York and all other cities and villages my friends. I have no axe to grind with any individual. I try the best I know how to do my job, realizing to the full that none of us is perfect. I have referred to Mr. Schoke in this story. Well, Chic, I hope that you have no hard feelings toward me and that all this can be straightened out.
There is plenty of time before we can have the next Abbott Get-Together, and when we do, we want it with all mistakes and misunderstandings cleared up. There will be no Get-Together in 1950 - but 1951 - after all, that's just around the corner.
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