Abbotts 20th Get Together 1949
by Demon Rembrandt
The 16th annual Abbott Magic Get-Together passed into history with the closing show on Saturday, Sept. 10. Later Percy Abbott* announced that there would be no Get-Together in 1950, although he gave some promise that the affair would be resumed the next year if certain annoying conditions were corrected by that time.
The Get-Together as usual attracted visitors from every part of the country - 38 states - and Canada, and the official registration was given as 790, the largest attendance for any of the Colon gatherings.
Many of the visitors came in for a few days over the Labor Day week end, others dropped in on the way to their next engagement, but the bulk of them stayed for the better part of the week.
Among the prominent personages in the Magic world, aside from those appearing on the shows, attending part of the sessions were: Cardini and Swan, in for the first few days before opening at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago; Paul and Trudy Stadelman, Ed Dart and Bob Lund, publisher and editor respectively of Conjuror's Magazine; Arthur Buckley, Russ Walsh, president of the IBM; John Mulholland, editor of The Sphinx; R. C. Buff, editor, The Modern Magi; John Platt, Bert Allerton, the Prestons, Inez and Bob Kitchen, C R. Eaton, Bellcamp, the Lestas, Dr. Zina Bennett, Addph Boldt, Bill Baird, Al and Ann Minder, Arthur Reichenbach, Don Ausman, E. J. Moore and others.
Although the official program did not get under way until Wednesday night with the traditional "night before" party, there was a show in one the tents Tuesday night staged by the Counts of Conjuring, the junior organization which held its annual convention in conjunction with the Get-Together.
On this junior show, nine youthful performers appeared and gave the tentful of Magicians and their friends an amusing evening although their show as a whole did not come up to the one presented last year.
Introduced by George Thompson, one of the founders of the group, most of the acts were of the zany type, the outstanding Magic performance being that of Ray Bedwell, who last year contributed a fire-eating act, and Thompson in his impersonations of different types of Magicians. Those appearing were: Pablo (Paul Bybee) who did Hippity Hop Rabbits, Linking Rings, and Cake in Hat, and also appeared as MC for a couple of acts; Davey Jones as a bewildered Magician; Antonio in a Vent act and later a Magic act in which several good effects suffered; John Herman, golf ball manipulation; Dick Marsh; Ray Bedwell, silks and a dandy rope trick; and Bill Lewis.
When Wednesday came, so did the rains and the projected "night before" party, originally set for the ball park and was to include a ball game, had to be shifted to the "big top". The word was passed along through the day and by the time the curtains parted, the big tent was filled with Magicians, their friends, and townspeople. Of course there was the usual prize package candy sale to take up a fast five minutes, then Percy Abbott introduced George Boston, manager of the Abbott Hollywood branch, as M.C. and the ghow was on.
After a couple of numbers by the Colon High School Band under the direction of Mel Flowers, Boston brought on Bob Morehead with a nice variety of magical effects, including the Linking Rings; a very funny pantomime act by Tom Rockhill, in which he gave an exhibition of Magic with the instructions given him a la wire recorder; Chuck and Phyllis Kirkham with the new Abbott's Sawing a Woman illusion; Mel with his chalk act, and finally some fast Magic - even illusions - by Percy Abbott and family, the best part of the act they recently presented at the PCAM convention. In addition, Percy did Multiplying Passe Bottles, which later in the showroom was a sell-out trick. Zany stunts in the hands of Ken Allen and George Coon interspersed throughout the performance, and a presentation of a cup to Arthur Nimz of Los Angeles, for being the first arrival - he came in Aug. 15 - completed the program.
Filing out of the tent, the crowd formed a hollow square around the lot across the street and soon were thrilled with the spectacular illusion presented by Lester Lake in which Lake permitted himself to be encased in a box with gasoline-soaked straw piled high on it, and then "burned alive". When the fire was extinguished, Lake came out of it smiling and unharmed, however.
With the better part of the crowd in Thursday, there was a sell-out house for the opening public show in the Magic Tent Theatre. Indeed, many were turned away for lack of seats as was the case on Friday and Saturday nights.
Following the usual candy sale which seemed to put the audience into a gay mood to enjoy the evening's program, Percy Abbott introduced Lester Lake as the M. C, and he in turn introduced the opening act, Ken Allen, Abbott's New York branch manager. Allen presented a fast act, doing his Magic, mostly floral effects, while dancing. Harry Louine, known in the vaudeville days as the King of Coins, followed with some dexterous coin manipulations and the egg bag and the elusive shot glass; then Maxine, petite lady from Fort Wayne, with her blooming bouquet and razor blade presentations; and Davey Jones, the "eary" young man who made good fun for all with his Magic and by poking fun at himself. Frank Clinton and Co. closed the first half with the new Karson Dancing Handkerchief, twin rose bushes, Rod through Girl and Chinese butterflies, a beautiful effect of vari-colored paper flies glowing in the dark.
After the intermission, Joan Rodgers appeared for a brief toe dance routine, then Percy Abbott appeared with a trick which he described as only for Magicians and then after breaking an egg in a small Magic pan extracted from it a huge (bigger than Percy) comic duck. Elmer Eckam then appeared with his Chinese act, with variations of the rice bowl effect, followed by Janet, eight-year-old daughter of the Clintons, who gave a delightful presentation of four magical effects, closing with a large flower growth.
Closing was the feature act of Aubrey, the youthful Magician from Hollywood, who truly lived up to all the advance reports of his act. He was as good as any other professional Magician ever seen in Colon, and the crowd gave plenty with applause. He was assisted by Miss Lois Houston and George Boston. Aubrey's effects came in rapid succession and were beautifully presented - a rabbit production and vanish, billiard ball manipulations, a beautiful floating balls presentation, multiplying lighted candles, Shooting Through a Lady, a sand trick, and his own version of The Girl Without a Middle.
Rapp Provides a Treat!
Friday afternoon, the Magicians were given a real treat when they visited the tent and saw a special performance, that of Augustus Rapp of Kalamazoo, a veteran professional Magician and entertainer, who showed his present day colleagues the Magic he did 50 years ago. He appeared in the costume of that time, knee britches and all, and delighted his audience with his presentation of Magic using his oldtime equipment. He also did a ventriloquial bit and closed with a "spirit cabinet" act, and when he appeared free from his bonds, the audience to a man (and woman) arose and applauded him until he begged off. A grand performance by a grand performer. The night show was handled by George Boston, and he brought on the Millikens of South Bend, who presented a beautiful act with cigarettes, flowers, and bubbles, and climaxed it by producing a lighted cigarette from a bubble. Vin Carey then came on and performed silk tricks and ties, tore paper designs in keeping with the stories he told and closed with a dramatic presentation of the Linking Rings. The next act was an entertaining shadowgraph act by Al Saal, then Joe Karson, a serious-faced comedian who with the assistance of Karrell Fox, did a hilarious act - and out of nothing. A beautiful presentation closed the first half - that of Geraldine Larsen, editor of the Genii, who did the mutilated parasol, and various silk and flower effects.
Mr. Oso (Gerald Kosky frcrn Los Angeles) did his Magic in the manner and with the patter of a very polite Japanese gentleman, to open the second half. He was followed by George Boston who told the story of Diamond Jack with a pack of jumbo playing cards - an entertaining bit. Aubrey then appeared and produced and vanished doves and repeated the candle and billiard ball routines, then vanished a clock from a foulard. Closing the show were Chuck and Phyllis Kirkham with various magical effects, climaxed by their version of Abbott's Canvas Covered Box illusion. The substitution was very quickly and expertly done.
On Saturday afternoon, many of the Magicians - many more could have benefitted greatly from it-attended the demonstration lecture by J. B. Bobo, This was fine educational feature, each listener being provided with a typescript description of each effect, John Mulholland reading from it as Bobo proceeded to demonstrate the moves.
Those who did not attend the lecture, spent the time milling around the plant doing tricks for each other or taking pictures.
There also was the annual meeting of the International Religious Magic Association, organized at last year's Get-Together, discussing plans and electing officers. Preston was reelected president for another year with the following staff: Lisle Shackleford, Rev. Paul Lloyd, Dr. Harlan Tarbell, vice-presidents; Richard Watson, secretary-treasurer; and Mrs. Zina Bennett, publicity director.
On Saturday night, Bobo was the master of ceremonies and the opening act by Charles Worpel and Co. was a scary affair presented in green light, and in the role of a Frankenstein monster, Worpel burned a girl alive and laughed at it in fiendish glee. Geraldine Larsen then appeared with her ventriloquial doll, doing the bit she has presented in television and coached Betty Hutton in for one of the latter's pictures. Chuck Kirkham then presented the Great Leon's Haunted House illusion which was very mystifying to all the Magicians present; Mickey Otaski did a comedy juggling act, but missed too many times; and the first half was closed by Kim Kee with a beautiful presentation of Chinese Magic with a startling finale including his version of the Abbott Pagodas.
Opening the second half, Bobo came on to do a short effect with Magic Embroidery, then introduced Don and Thelma Greenwood in a clever act in which they manipulated silks, cards, balls and cigarettes. The Debonnaires followed with a three-piece musical act which caught the fancy of the crowd and then Aubrey closed With his big act, including the Doll House3 a fishing trick, the Vampire (or Galatea) illusion in which he was assisted by George Boston and Miss Houston and then the feature illusion, his version of the Asra Levitation.
Musical accompaniment for the acts each evening was furnished by Richard Judd of Colon on the Hammond organ. Many of the audience did not know this as he was hidden from view until the last night when Bobo introduced him to the audience. Other hidden workers were Lyman Hug, stage manager, and his assistants, Bill Auten and Fred Smith.
By Sunday morning most of the visitors had already departed. Some of those who remained attended the mass conducted by Father Lloyd in one of the Abbott tents or other services in the Colon churches.
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