Abbotts 28th Get Together 1964
by John Braun
Wednesday, august 19th through Saturday August 22nd were the days (and nights, too) and man, I'm tellin YOU, the town of Colon, Michigan, "The Magic Capital of the World", was REEALLY JUMPIN! when 680 magic fans of assorted ages from 5-85 descent upon a quiet, minding its own business little community whose population is about 1,000, things are poppin at the seams all over the place! But everybody had a good time-even the ladies-and I'm going to try to recapture the highlights for you.
There were magical celebrities there in profusion from California to New York, from Canada to Mexico, from Florida to New England, There were acts to please every taste-even ventriloquists and fire-eaters! And there were old friends-so many the affair was like a family reunion-and I'm amazed when I'm told this was the 28th such gathering staged by The Abbott Magic Company. Long may they continue!
With Wilma Rench at the organ, the show opened Wednesday evening in the elementary School Auditorium. Duke Stern drew the opening assignment, for this was "Magic Capitol Nite" starring Abbott company talent in everything from small magic to illusions. Arturo and Company, Karrell Fox, monk Watson, Kip Wadsworth presenting "Cutting An Assistant in Sixths"(this proved to be a baffler Selbit would have been proud of), the inimitable Neil Foster featuring card manipulations and Zombie, Duke Stern in hi Pantomime Magic, the Frantic Franzens - 7 people and a beautiful Collie dog with productions and vanishes of people, doves, enormous ducks-a most enjoyable act, it was their 19th wedding anniversary! Roy Kissell impersonated the magician whose tricks don't work, and the Amazing Conklins another magical family, presented pleasing magic and illusions, featuring the famous Hindu Basket trick.
Monk Watson, assisted by Duke Stern, brought out the mindreading act he did years ago with Bert Wheeler-a burlesque that moved from hilarity into puzzlement-until the under the table assistant Karrell Fox could no longer see the articles Monk held up in the audience, and blew the whole thing by proclaiming "I can't see-you're too far back!" A riot!
Demonstrations went on at the Abbott showroom before, between and after all scheduled events till midnight, and many were the bargains auctioned off by Messers, Fox , Stern, and Strickler. The place was so crowded most times one had difficulty squeezing in! Outside and across the street at "The Magician's Retreat", the close-up workers had a real ball swapping miracles. magic was discussed and displayed everywhere.
Thursday afternoon, August 20th, Frances Ireland Marshall lectured on Kid Show Magic, covering such important points as getting dates, the Kid Show Case, types of tricks to use, pleasing mothers, keeping the show bright and happy and light, and getting applause. she pointed up her advice with actual demonstrations of Ribbon Through Body, Run Rabbit Run, and Paper Hat, then introduced Maggie the Clown who provides games for the kiddies-no prizes, just games they can all enjoy. An excellent lecture by an experienced children's entertainer. jay Marshall, Frances' leprechaun husband, demonstrated his case and table for kids shows, and such favorites as Jack and the Bean Stalk and the Ladder and Fly Trap made from rolled newspapers-a demonstration reminiscent of the beloved Al Baker.
Mystic Craigs movies of the Kalanag Show and the Jack Miller Lecture followed. To see the late Jack Miller's Cup and Ball moves, his Linking Ring routine and his rope tricks was well worth anyone's time.
Thursday evening's show was M.C.'d by Jay Marshall, and as the British say, "Jay was in top form". Bruce Spangler and Kathy, with their own stage setting, lights and music opened the show with magic and fire eating. Paul Stadelman, vocal illusionist, and pal Windy Higgins did exceptional vent work; Valentine and his Birds (Nevin and Helen Hoefert and the Cockatoos) are always entertaining; there is only ONE Clarke the Senator Crandall, but this time he was Stanislaus Istashu (or was it STASHUE). With his beautiful matched luggage and the hilarious magic he extracted there from, he had them "rolling in the aisle", and finished off the job with a handcuff escape to end ALL handcuff escapes. Celeste Evans (who but a lovely girl could follow Stashue) closed the first half with a beautiful act featuring card fans, doves, billiard balls, silk and dove magic in black light, and the white poodle production.
After intermission Ricky Dunn, Paul Howard, Duke Stern, and Karrell Fox produced "peddling ordinance" skits, then Joe Cossari, King of Cards, displayed his card fans act, featuring a triple deck wheel and a two deck waterfall like the Dai Vernon Notis Waterfall in Inner Secrets of Card Magic-Lovely!
Jay Marshall can stop ANY show with Lefty, and he stopped this one.
Roy Huston and Company closed the show with illusions-the Palanquin Illusion, Rod Thru Girl, Drum That Can't Be Beaten, Watch in Nest of Boxes, Cremation, Blooming Rose Bush, and Flight Through Outer Space. A very good show, and over all too soon!
Friday morning, August 21st, the Rev. John DeVries lectured for Magi-Ministers and a sizable group gathered in the school auditorium to learn about object lesson magic, its applications and value. I particularly enjoyed this lecture.
That afternoon, Joe Palen, "The Story telling Magician" presented his lecture on magic for children, stressing "Proper routines, properly presented, properly staged. Joe used the Walsh Production Wand, The Professor's Rope Trick, Chinese Sticks, Mr. and Mrs. Green, Atomic Energy, Elmer the Mindreading Chalk, Aladdin's Magic Vase, and Forgetful Freddie to illustrate his points. His Method for producing presents for the birthday child will no doubt be adopted by many. An informative lecture.
Monk Watson mastered the ceremonies Friday evening, featuring such acts as Jim Shannon and Joanne, Get Together favorites; Jimmy Wear with Houdini's famous pillory escape, and the Tiger release; Lynn Fox danced; Monk imitated the high wire act; Karrell Fox unlimbered a whole new assortment of his burlesques on favorite magic-far out zany stuff, very funny! Monk closed the first half with his Orchestra-Leader-rehearsing-the-boys-at-the-railroad-station, and only an intermission CAN follow that act!
Little Johnny Jones, now an artist about to stage a one man exhibition of his paintings, did his act of years ago: vanishing cane, thimbles, egg on fan, three to one rope, stretching a rope and cigarettes. Lynn Fox danced again, Hawaiian style this time with some stitchery unknown to our 50th state.
Harry Blackstone Jr., star of this Get-Together, opened with the Vanishing Bird and Cage, just like his father does it; the Six Card Repeat routine, the Floating Light Bulb, and card tricks with a committee on stage. You'd swear it was Harry Blackstone, Sr. out there doing the tricks, for the style, the voice, the mannerisms are the same to a degree that is uncanny! this boy has EVERYTHING!
Bob Sherman-Sherms and Company-closed the show with the production of flags from ribbons-a tableau of flags of all nations building up to big American flags on staves; then his Atomic Glass, an unbelievable penetration effect; in Chinese costume, the famous colored sands trick; Anti-gravity with three glasses and silks on glass plate, and finally, his Girl in Cabinet pierced by so many blades and swords the title must be "Where Was the Girl While All This Was Going On?"
Saturday's show in the beautiful auditorium of Colon Senior High school George johnstone is the M.C. and he's a handsome rascal even without a beard! Witty lad, too! Joe Cossari opened with his Fantasy in Color, done in black light, and pretty. Dave Hoy next, with predictions of things to come, Voodoo magic, a Brainwave effect with an honest deck, and the Tossed Cut Deck. Dave had only recently closed at Al Hirt's Club in New Orleans. His mentalism is direct and the most entertaining I've ever seen.
George Johnstones' act of burlesqued magic is a lesson in what can be done in this area, just as funny to laymen as to magicians. Bill Joy and Company, with "How's Tricks" closed the first half with Cane Thru Body, Vanishing Glass of Milk, Pigeon Vanish, and Pigeon Catching in Net, the Parasol, The Haunted House, Orange Tree, Hindu Basket and the Broom Illusion.
After intermission, Dorny, assisted by Joe Palen and Mr. Serar in the audience, presented Magic in the 25th Century. I can assure you it will be humorous, mostly. The Preview was!
Johnstone's between acts bits were enjoyed by all, for they were clever and funny. The sharp shooting thing with Kathy Spangler, and the performer who gets all tangled up in his Afghan Bands were outstanding. Yes, and my brother had to marry the girl. All this yet!
Bob Lewis and Ginny on next, and Bob is a show stopper. The monologue, the Linking ring routine, Ginny's walk on bits, and the banjo numbers are grand entertainment.
Harry Blackstone Jr. closed the show with tricks we'll all remember-the Vanishing Bird Cage with committee of children surrounding the cage, Mental Epic, the Stretching Handkerchief, the Knot Untying Bit, and the Spirit handkerchief-just like "pop" does it. I'll bet Uncle Pete Bouton was as proud of his nephew as a man can be. As I said before, this boy HAS it!
As the years go by I enjoy magic Get-Togethers more and more. Abbott's is particularly enjoyable, for there's a relaxed atmosphere, warm friendliness, and plenty of vacationland potential in the area. I've missed only a few of the 28 Get Togethers, and I speak from years of happy experiences. Seeing old friends again often means more to me than seeing the shows, but at Abbott's one sees plenty of magic and gets these other bonuses besides! So I look forward to the next such gathering in Colon. To Recil and Neil, the Chamber of Commerce, and all the others who made it possible for us to enjoy this magic festival again this year I give my best thanks-and please book my reservation now for the next Get-Together!
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