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Abbotts 13th Get Together 1946

by Demon Rembrandt

The thirteenth annual Abbott Magic Get-Together is now but a brilliant item in magical history, but aside from the chronicling, visitors will remember it as one of the most enjoyable of all magicians1 conventions It was the largest gathering of its kind ever to be held in Colon, the official count of the visitors being given as 620, although there were many who came in for the last show who did not sign the book.

And the weather was grand throughout the week, rain holding off until the last show was over. Otherwise it was mild with cool nights, although midsummer came back for the last two days.

The visitors started to come in the week end before Labor Day, and indeed Audley Dunham of Indianapolis arrived in Colon Friday night, thus qualifying him for the first arrival medal presented him on the "night before" show.

Every section of the country was represented at the conclave, a large delegation coming from the East, and a number of Magicians came in from Toronto and other parts of Canada. Among the visitors were some of the top notch performers - amateur and professional - in the field of Magic. To name some of them: Bert Allerton, president of the Society of American Magicians; John Braun, president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and editor of the Linking Ring; John Mulholland, editor of The Sphinx; Gene Bernstein, Sid Lorraine, Harlan Tarbell, Ralph Head, Milbourne Christopher, Leslie Guest, Howard Strickler, Dave Coleman, Adolf Boldt, B. C. Buff, Loring Campbell, Dick DuBois, Paul Stadelman, Bob Nelson, and the performers on the various shows.

While most of the crowd were regular attendants of the Abbott affairs - many of them having participated in all thirteen - quite a number of new faces were seen this year.

All the Magicians5 activities centered in the Abbott plant and the "big top" theatre this year pitched in Railroad Park just down the street from the plant.

Demonstrations Crowd Showroom

In the Abbott showroom, there was hardly room to turn around as the frequent cry of "Demonstration" went out over the loud speaker. The demonstrations went on constantly and after each there was a rush to the counters, for the wonders performed this year were such that the Magicians were eager to buy the equipment necessary.

Many new effects were offered to Magicians for the first time in the Abbott showroom and all visitors were enthusiastic as they were presented by Percy Abbott and his corps of demonstrators - Duke Stern, Karrell Fox, Bob Magune, Lloyd Chambers, Joe Karson and Menge.

Demonstrations continued throughout each day and one of the tricks that made at hit with all was Lester Lake's latest creation, "Water Lu" which sold like hot cakes even though delivery was purposely held off until the day before the close.

While the formal program of the Get- Together did not begin until Wednesday night enough of the crowd was in on Monday and Tuesday nights to warrant demonstrations and shows of an impromptu nature in the Abbott showroom.

"Slap Happies of 1946"

The scheduled shows of the conclave got under way on Wednesday night, when "The Slap-Happies of 1946" was presented for an all-Magician audience, This was the usual "night before party" which is the traditional opening for any large gathering of Magicians. Most of this show was given over to hilarious gags and blackout skits, introducing a new team of magical wags - Duke Stern, manager of Abbott's in Indianapolis, and Karrell Fox, manager of the Abbott Branch Store in Detroit. Lester Lake was master of ceremonies and he did some Magic, while introducing Delmont, a youthful trickster with good Magic and patter; an illusion burlesque by Carlo, Milton Kort and Jeanne Windsor; Dolores Robinson, in a contortionist specialty; Freddie Brandt with a guillotine presentation; Dr. Zina B. Bennett presenting his fans with regular and giant cards in beautiful black light; a comedy coin catching interlude by Howard Strickler, a mind reading gag by Phil Thomas, which Karrell Fox crossed up with double talk, and a comedy Magic act by Reichenbach and Minder, in which the former appeared on his Magic horse and the latter as his glamorous assistant in ballet costume and curls.

On Thursday afternoon there was an educational program in which various lecturers explained phases of Magic and kindred arts in which they were adept. Those who participated in this program were Percy Abbott himself, Duke Stern, Tommy Windsor, Monk Watson and Mel, all closing with an interesting talk on Magicians and Magic of India by Jack Gwynne, who spent a couple of years on USO shows, most of that time in the Orient and India.

Thursday Night Show

The first of three public shows was given in the tent theatre on Thursday and a capacity crowd of 1200 was in the tent, sitting and standing to greet the performers. As the footlights came on, Percy appeared and welcomed the crowd and then introduced Monk Watson as M, C. As usual, Monk was in good form and he brought on the first act, Stewart James, manager of Abbott's Canadian branch store, who presented the Magic with which he entertained soldiers overseas as a member of the Canadian Army, among other effects doing the six-card repeat, bathing beauty and the linking rings. Lester Lake came next with his new Chinese act, featuring several tricks of his own creation, the Siamese-Chinese twins, and several liquid tricks, including Water- Lu; then Joe Karson with various card tricks and comedy patter; Phil and Kay Thomas with a flash act - their usual smart Magic - spurting rice bowls, television frame, rabbit vanish, mutilated parasol and an alarm clock vanish. John Giordmaine closed the first half with his comedy pet in which he did a whale of a lot of Magic for the time he was on with ropes, silks, vanishing wand and alarm clock production.

Opening the second half was Al Minder, long a favorite with Colon audiences, and as usual he scored as the inebriated Magician, his Magic featuring the light bulb trick "Electra" Then came the closing act, an elaborate affair presented by Ray Cox and his company, which included Jeanne Windsor. In this act along with smaller Magic, Cox presented several illusions - Doll House, various escapes, A Spooky Substitution, and Sawing a Woman in Half.

Friday Night Show

The Friday night show was handled by Jim Sherman of Chicago, a gracious M.C., appearing for his first time on a Colon show. The opening act was Mysterious Lawrence who started the show off with a bang with his magical, musical, and juggling stunts. Dr. Clyde Cairy of Lansing followed with a presentation of card tricks, then petite Jeanne Windsor appeared with a cute little ventriloquial doll and made a terrific hit with the audience as she walked down the aisles, the doll singing all the while. Duke Stern then came on to do some burlesque Magic, Karrell Fox acting as his clumsy assistant, then Duke went into his pantomimic impersonation of Mr. Average Magician. For the Magicians it was grand clowning as he went through the motions of doing card, cigarette and billiard ball manipulation, and the vanishing bird cage, all without a piece of apparatus in his hands. The first half was closed by The Johnstones (George and Betty), a youthful pair who presented their Magic in a very smooth manner, their routines dealing mostly with silks and flowers - a very colorful act indeed.

After the intermission, Al Saal, a popular performer at Abbott affairs, came on with a clean-cut manipulative act with cards, cigarettes, and the multiplying lighted candles. Following Saal was Tommy Windsor, who appeared as a street pitchman, expounding the virtues of various powders vocally while he produced several magical effects. Then came Les Hunt and Juliette with a neat act in which silks and flowers were effectively displayed. The closing act was Harry Otto and Company in which were presented many Chinese and Oriental mysteries. Otto and his assistant, both dressed in Chinese costumes did the fire ball, Sands of the Desert, a pigeon cabinet trick and their closing number a square circle effect in which silks, flowers, and finally several bird cages were produced.

Saturday Night Show

On the Saturday night show, Dorny appeared as the M.C. and as usual turned in a fine job in the role. First on the bill was Harry Otto, this time appearing alone with his juggling act which went over big. Then came Guy Gerber with card fans, knots and silks, a grand Magic turn; Joe and Ann Karson, featuring his "Turning Back Time"; Nardini, the Magical Bartender, who presented his bar act, in which he poured out various drinks as various members of the audience called for them, Then came one of the zaniest acts that has ever appeared in Colon - Karrell Fox, who calls himself "King of Korn" and he ably lived up to the title with a fast succession of gags and a little Magic. His snake basket bit with Waldo Logan and Al Mack assisting was a scream. He closed the first half - he "stopped the show" anyway.

Opening the second half was The Great Alexander with an act made up of various effects with watches and ringing clocks, concluding with an illusion, the Grandfather Clock, from which emerged ol Father Time himself, Johnny Jones appeared next with the act he has been presenting on USO shows in several of the war theatres, particularly in the C-B-I theatre. Then came Mel with his chalk act, drawing a half dozen pictures in rapid succession. The closing act was that of Monk Watson, doing two comedy stunts which the Magicians clamor for each year Monk appears on the Get-Together shows - the orchestra director and the tightrope walker, both of them hilarious caricatures of the respective performers.

Much credit for the smooth running of the various shows goes to the unseen and unannounced members of the Abbott staff who handled the back stage and the music. On the last night Dorny brought them out for a brief Introduction - Lyman Hug, stage manager, and his assistant, Bill Auten; and the orchestra, Mrs. Abbott, piano; Duke Stern, violin; and Bob Magune, drums. They all did a good job.

After each of the night shows, there was a buffet lunch served on the Abbott grounds, followed by another session in the showroom which lasted until l a m .

Ovette Memorial Show

On Friday afternoon there was a show as a memorial to Joe Ovette, beloved member of the magical fraternity, who died early in August. Proceeds from this show at which the sum of $509.90 was realized, were turned over to the widow, Fran Ovette. The Ovettes were to have been on one of the shows this year. John Mulholland appeared as the M, C. and in greeting the audience, paid a grand tribute to the memory of Joe Ovette. He then introduced the following who appeared briefly with a pet trick; Bill Pitts, cards, Disecto; Jimmy Trimble, cigarette manipulation, and the Rabbit in the Hat; Paul Stadelman, Tipsy Turvy Bottles; Doc Dougherty, Fink Elephants and Purple Cows and a rabbit production; Dave and Pauline Coleman, Tears of Buddha, thimble routine, paper hat, parasol and the famous Linking Rings; Loring Campbell, whose trick it was to introduce the presidents of the major Magicians organizations, Bert Allerton and John Braun; Lieut. Lee Estes, a safety trick and The Pig That Looks Round; the Menges in songs and Magic; Melbourne Christopher with knots and stretching a rope; closing with the Lestas and their Story of the American Flag - a magical production.

Saturday afternoon. Dr. Tarbell conducted his third class in Magic in the tent theatre and more than 60 Magicians availed themselves of the opportunity to learn from this master easier ways of producing their effects. As usual the housing facilities of Colon were taxed to the limit and many of the visitors were placed in rooms out of town. With no hotel in town, the Magicians were taken care of in various private homes, and in this way many new friendships were made with the townspeople through the week.

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