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Abbotts 8th Get Together 1941

by Demon Rembrandt

With one of the greatest of Magic conventions a matter of history, Percy Abbott, impressario of his Eighth Annual Magic Get-Together at Colon, took a deep breath, and immediately started making preparations for the Ninth Annual next year. "Bigger and better than ever" is still his slogan for these affairs.

And not only Percy, but many of the departing Magi had thoughts of next year's conclave at Colon, announcing that they would be back again next year, and some even went so far as to engage rooms for the Magic Week of 1942.

The crowd this year surpassed all similar affairs staged by Abbott, the attendance figure being placed at 530, calculated on the number of cards signed by the visitors, with no account taken of those who came in the last night and did not call for badges and tickets. And among that crowd were many distinguished members of the profession, some of them attending for the first time, all of them voting it the greatest convention ever. Among these were Charles Larson, well known collector of magical items and a consistent conventionnaire, although this was the first time he attended an Abbott affair; Ed Reno, beloved patriarch of the profession; Dr. Harlan Tarbell, and presidents and past presidents of most of the major magical associations. Three past presidents of the S.. A. M. were there - Werner Dornfield, Eugene Bernstein, and H. Adrian Smith. the president of the I. B. M., Bob Anderson, and the past president of that organization, John Snyder, Jr.; Judge Frank Carter, past president of the Houdini Club; and all four presidents of the Magicians Guild of America - A. Warsaw, Jim Miller, Clyde Cairy and Walter Z. Harris, now heading the Guild.

The large crowd taxed the housing facilities of Colon, but all were taken care of, and many were the expressions lauding the folks of Colon for their splendid hospitality.

Early Birds Arrived Early

Magicians began rolling into town Sunday afternoon, the first to arrive being Loring and Kathryne Campbell, who came from California with a brief stop at Lakeside, Ohio, and Bellcamp the Magician, who had just completed a successful summer tour of Michigan summer resorts. Although the programmed activities of the Get-Together did not begin until Thursday night, there were enough "early birds" in town to have a show Wednesday night, so one was arranged. Lester Lake was introduced as M. C. and he introduced Dr. M. D. Overholser of the University of Missouri faculty, who did a novel giant card routine; followed by Loring Campbell and his pop up cigars; then Charlie Larson, who exhibited some of his pet effects; Roy Hall with a rope trick, and Percy Abbott showing some of his latest creations. Ray Cox also broke into the proceedings to demonstrate the Abbott Shrunken Head illusion.

Demonstrations in the Magic Theatre and showroom made the Abbott plant hum with activity Thursday, with more and more visitors coming in. being sounded intermittently by Howard Strickler, who was general chairman in charge of extraneous etnertainment (whatever that is). Incidentally, he did a good job of it, as always.

The new enlarged and revamped Abbott showroom was a revelation to the visitors and when Percy cried "Demonstration" there was a rush for the chairs to see the mysteries he had to unfold. The Magic Theatre's stage, a part of the showroom, was ideal for good presentation of every effect, all being shown under actual "show" conditions.

One of the features Thursday afternoon was the appearance outside the plant of an ambulance which brought Jesse Thornton from the hospital where he had been confined since his accident last May. This gave his many friends at the convention a chance to say "Hello" and chat with him briefly.

Razzle Dazzle Night a Riot

Thursday night came the fun feature - the scheduled night before party - Razzle Dazzle Night - and this was a riot of fun as well as a good Magic show. Howard Strickler of Toledo, abetted by Ray Cox and Bill Williston of New York, all zanies of the first water, kept the thing going at a rapid pace with crazy stunts interspersed between the scheduled acts. After Percy Abbott had greeted the assemblage, Strickler, Cox and Williston took over and to start the fun sold prize packages of candy, and later prize Magic packages, the funds obtained in this way being used later to finance a crazy auction staged by Strickler and Percy, a hilarious bit which closed the evening.

Percy then introduced Lester Lake as M. C. and after Mervin Goode of the Abbott staff sang "God Bless America" with audience participation, the program was on. Programmed were many Magicians who had appeared on Abbott shows before along with many who were participating for the first time.

Early in the proceedings, Bill Williston, featured performer on the public shows and a premier gag artist himself (he and Ray Cox arrived from New York wearing fur coats and straw hats - and it was hot in Colon!), was given an oversize golden key to Colon, Chuck Elliott posing as the Mayor to make the presentation.

Bill responded to this with a neat acceptance speech, in which he expressed embarrassment at not being prepared for the presentation. He recalled one other embarrassing moment, the time he peeked through a keyhole and saw another eye.

Williston Loses Shirt

Insistent demands came then for Bill to do a trick, so he came out with the bird cage. Someone called out "Do it again," and as he got set, Bill called for a committee and offered dough to any of them who could find the bird cage on his person after he had vanished it. The bird cage went, and so did the committee - to work on Bill. His coat came off, so did his shirt - in shreds - and the four committeemen each emerged with a bird cage in his hand.

On the Magic side, Arnold Furst came on with Fresh Fish; Joe Brown was on and off with a half-minute feather fan production; Frank Csuri appeared in uniform and presented a smooth orange and silk routine and the card fans that made such a hit last year; Ray Cox did Bank Nite; Dr. Cairy, By this time the convention was in full swing and the keynote of "Fun" was glass of water production and his Do-As-I-Do rope trick. Then came the Zilch Sisters in their Dance of the Veils, a very funny bit with Percy and Loring Campbell at their crazy best.

Vin Carey followed with a neat presentation of a bullet release; then came Billy Pitts, with ping-pong ball manipulations; and Loring Campbell with Lorraine's A. B. C. trick.

Following the intermission which Percy killed with the sale of the prize Magic packages, with the assistance of his screwball super-salesman, Dr. Daley came on with his blindfold poker deal; and Percy did a vent bit. At this point the M. C. called for a vote whether the show should go on, the night being a hot one. The response being unanimously "pro", Charlie Larson exhibited his card wheel and the king and queen; Don Reaser appeared with the vanishing cane, Levante cabinet and razor blades; George Boston with a ribbon trick; and finally Lester Lake with his Money Blocks and Chinese Siamese Twins.

Closing the evening came the crazy auction, which put the house into an uproar.

The Magicians Only show came on Friday afternoon and this was staged under the canvas in front of the plant. Lester Lake appeared again to handle the show and introduced Si Stebbine, who performed his amazing card tricks; Joe Berg with a blank deck. Arnold Furst, Fresh Fish; Mike Zens, two-card prediction; Doug Harrison, card frame penetration; Jack Bradley, milk vanish; Monk Watson, some unusual card work and gags; Dornfield with four fast stories; Jimmy Trimble, Hindoo wands; Frank Caesar, rope through neck; and Eugene Bernstein with a hypnotic act. Lester Lake closed with his spirit pictures and Siamese twins.

The Show of Shows

The first public show on Friday night was the last word in all Magic shows and the consensus was that it set the pace for some time to come. With Dorny doing a splendid job as M. C, the program moved along at a rapid pace, each act vieing with the others for top honors on the bill. Vin Carey opened with an entertaining paper tearing routine along with his Chinese rings and other Magic. Then Loring Campbell appeared with his beautiful rag picture act. Don Sweet with clean cut Magic including the Twentieth Century and razor blades; Bob Hummer in a pantomimic Magic act that was a comedy hit; the first half closing with Ray Cox and his fast presentation of Magic with the assistance of George Boston. Opening the second half came Al Saal with cigarette and watch effects done in Saal's usual smooth manner. Si Stebbins then moseyed from the wings in the rube character he created in the vaudeville days and baffled the Magi and others in the chairs with his card tricks. Plato and Jewell were next in the class act that has made them nite club favorites; then came Percy Abbott with the Up-and-Down illusion, a beautiful and baffling presentation, followed by the closing riot staged by Magic's "Hellz-a-Poppin", Bill Williston, who did Magic, fired pistols, gagged, had fun with a couple of boys and a large piece of ice, and otherwise turned the opera house into a bedlam.

Both public shows were sell-outs long before curtain time and many availed themselves of the standing room both nights. Williston appeared as M. C. on the Saturday night show and between the acts did his minute-and-half Linking Eing routine and other Williston tricks and gags. Opening were Plato and Jewell with cards, diminishing cards and the sucker egg; then Jimmy Trimble with a beautiful presentation of Troublewit; Dr. Tarbell in a short but satisfying demonstration of his Eyeless Vision; Buss Walsh in his well known Magic game of golf, a real hit; with Ray Cox closing the first half with his dove circus, a beautiful presentation. In the intermission, Williston appeared and gave out alleged door prizes, the winners - or victims - being presented items ranging from a string of sausages to a sack of flour and a metal wash tub. On the second half, Eldon Nichols showed a fine rabbit vanish and some spectacular effects; followed by Loring Campbell with Here, There and Everywhere, cut and restored bands. Bob Lotz with some smooth cigarette and watch manipulations; Dorny with some crazy card tricks with the assistance of Monk Watson; Bob Hummer in a repeat of his comedy act; and Hay Cox closing with Clippo, rod through woman and the Rose Bush. Music for the two shows was provided by an orchestra made up of boys from the Abbott plant, Warren Conklin, saxophone; Bob Dougherty, bass; and Don Bubb, director, at the piano.

After the show each night refreshments were served in front of the Abbott plant, the Saturday night repast assuming the proportions of a buffet supper. Then the plant was opened and there were demonstrations for a few more hours. When the plant closed, many of the conventionnaires adjourned to the Abbott annex under the canvas to chat and do card tricks until the dawn. By Sunday noon, most of the visitors had departed.

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