Abbotts 75th Get Together 2012
by Greg Bordner
All of my life the Abbott Get-Together has affected me. There were always stories of the tent, the candy
pitch, Edger Bergen coming to town in a parade, and Duke and Gladys playing the violin and piano for
the shows. There are pictures on the wall here at Abbott’s of my dad selling tickets from a booth, a
levitation being performed, crowds in front of the Abbott buildings, and Mel Melson completing a
drawing that today would not be considered politically correct.
My earliest memories of the get-together are having my grandmother coming to stay with me because
mom and dad had gone to Niles, MI for the week of the convention. Then comes memories of going to
Coldwater and Sturgis to see the
The sixties memories start with
reporters coming to town with
cameras with huge glass bulbs to
do stories on Harry Blackstone Sr.
coming back to Colon to perform. I
was playing with plastic army men
as a writer interviewed my mom
on how magic affected her life in
As I got older, I remember riding
my bike down to the high school to
see the shows. There was Blackstone floating a light bulb over the audience. Bill Neff looked tired
because he was fighting cancer and Jack Gwynne was full of life performing with Ann and doing the
Temple of Benares and the basket girl production right there on the stage in Colon.
After the shows, the magicians all came back to the Abbott factory for auctions and lectures. The smoke
filled the room as that nasty habit was so common then. And I will always remember the look I got when
I picked up Clarke Crandall’s’ (The Senator) banjo without asking first.
The 1970’s brought memories of Neil and Jeanne Foster working on setting up the showroom in the
elementary gymnasium and of course Neil’s Zombie. As the 1970’s started, I was pressed in to helping
out by driving magicians to and from the train and bus depots, parking cars and helping to set up chairs.
My dad would alternate civic groups to sponsor the conventions. One year the band parents did not
show up to set up the chairs in the high school. I will never forget that year as two parents, my dad and
myself put them all up. Soon after that, the Colon Lions club became the permanent co-sponsors.
After graduating from
Michigan State University in
1974, the convention
became more important to
me. I needed a job and
working at Abbott’s,
became a career. The entire
year revolved around Magic
Production in the factory
aimed at having inventory
for that week. The crew all
pitched in to move
backstage and help with the
lighting. This soon changed
as magicians filled in to run
the show. Dorny (Werner
Dornfield) and Bill Smetak
had run things back stage,
but Bill Smetak worked
harder as he took over.
I remember one Sunday watching as Gordon Miller had to pack a zigzag so a Canadian with the worlds’ longest name,
Pepedenshanko could get it to the bus stop. Gordon was in charge of inventory, shipping, editor of the
Tops magazine, and of course, opening the Wednesday show with the “Welcome Magicians” banner.
Dad died just after the 1981 get-together. He had heart problems and passed driving back to work after
having lunch at the M & M Grill. So 1982 was my first get-together with myself in charge. As always, Neil
Foster, Gordon Miller, Jerry Conklin, Bill Smetak with the Holsteins and many others were there to help
keep the show going.
The fiftieth get-together was in 1987. This magic number brought extra attention and boosted
attendance. Blackstone Jr., Senor Rai, David Seebach, Sid Lorraine, Franz Harary and so many others
helped make this one a success. Comments like, “if this was the fiftieth, should it have been better”,
were heard. My answer was, “Wait until the 75th!”
Air Jazz, a juggling group was on that year. I’ll always remember the band director wanting to get them
here for a football halftime show. When I told him how much they cost to get here from Colorado, his
mouth fell open. Yes, these performers are professional magicians and they have to be paid.
The 1990’s found Hank Moorehouse producing the get-together. Karrell Fox and Abb Dickson kept the
tradition that Karrell Fox and Duke Stern had of spoofing the acts on Saturday that had appeared earlier
in the week. Over the years, Terry Seabrooke, Pat Page, Billy McComb, Ali Bongo, John Sallise from
England performed at various get-togethers. The idea that performers come from across the pond
certainly adds to the claim that Colon is indeed, the Magic Capital of the World. Brett Daniels, David
Seebach, Dave Cressey, Gene Anderson, Topaz from Germany, Yumi, Fukai, Kikuchi from Japan, Greg
Frewin from Canada, = the names just go on and on. I know I have left out so many, yet all are listed on
the performance roster and at magicgettogether.com.
In the turn of the century, the Laflins helped in so many ways = as dealers, performers and magic
ministers. Vent-o-rama changed from Bob Jepson to George Schindler and Jay Marshall.
Then my health started to turn for the bad side and my strength started to fade. The get-together is
such a big job and I will always be thankful that my family and the convention family stepped up their
efforts every year to keep the show going, but this was especially true as I became weaker.
Hank Moorehouse stepped up to fill the gap with help from so many others to take over as my strength
waned. 2008 is the only Get-Together I have ever missed. I was in Rush Hospital in Chicago and could
only phone in with best wishes to Hank’s party on Tuesday. The heart transplant done on September
30th, 2008 allowed me to return to help run the 2009 Get-Together. My strength has returned and it will
be wonderful to see the Abbott convention family again this monumental year of the 75th.
And with more than a year of preparation, here we go with “Las Vegas coming to Mayberry”, with the
little sleepy town of Colon, MI becoming Las Vegas for a week and more than tripling in size for four
magical days of fun, memories, and meeting old friends and making new friends that will last a lifetime.
Welcome to the Abbott Magic 75th. Magic Get-Together.
There will be a 76th Get-Together in 2013. Next year’s dates will be Aug 7,8,9,10.
If you have a favorite story or moment of the Magic Get Together
Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for all to enjoy
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