Abbotts 30th Get Together 1966
by John Braun
The more devout of Maja's followers turned out 807 strong for the 30th Annual Abbott's Magic Get-Together, August 17 to 20, 1966, arriving early and staying late in the little town of Colon, population 1001. How the town ever held them was a feat of magic in itself. Warm, sunny days and cool nights prevailed; there was something doing every minute - lectures, demonstrations, shws, an Art Exhibit, Radio Station WMRR with a big mike set up next door to the Abbott showroom; a "snack" tent manned by the Methodist right next to the plant; Duke's "New Lamps for Old" Bazaar; good fishing on Lake Palmer and motor boat races on Sunday, if one stayed for them. More excitement than a week at the county fair.
The program opened officially with "Abbott-cadabra Night," Wednesday, August 17 at 8 P.M. in Colon Elementary School Auditorium, and a capacity crowd was there to see the colorful and welcome presided over by Neil Foster and Recil Bordner. Roy Kissell opened the show with a variety of entertaining magic. Lee Hite and Juanita featured a Cabinet haunted by a poltergeist with entertaining ideas. Mercer Helms and his pretty assistant Judith performed showy, colorful magic with silks, doves, and Vanishing Cage of Doves finale. A pretty act.
Karrell Fox and Duke Stern provided 'gassers,'crazy bits and zany magic, between the acts. One of their highlights was when Duke helped Karrell produce a 50-foot streamer from a hat. They became so "wrapped up" in their work they had to be carried off stage!
Neil Fosters New Trix for 66 included gloves tossed onto thin topped table and changing instantly to a live dove; small animals produced from the "Surrounded Production Box" vanished when placed into the "Surrounded Livestock Vanish." He closed with a combination reminiscent of Okito - a Cabinet, stack of large Checkers and Silk transpostion, a new effect by Arturo. Nicely done!
The foxy Ones interlude at this point was a riot. He got his assistant from the audience all set for the "shirt removed without taking off the coat" trick; he took a firm hold on the victim's shirt collar and yanked - and tore the shirt into shreds. The man he enticed on stage wasn't the one he had talked to before the show - just looked like him!
Dr. Hans Van Baaren and the girls produced Sunny from a screen and offered a variety of magic including the Chinese cabinet trick, a levitation and the Blooming Rosebush. Six girls in the act: as the Doctor said, "a r-r-real Dutch Treat!"
After intermission, Duke became involved with the Chinese Sticks, and many laughs came of that. Then Gordon Miller with a routine of pleasant magic which included a clever "switch" on Center Tear, and closing with the production from a "topper" of two large flags on staves.
Stern and Fox slyly "segued" into the "Handy dandy Hearing Aid" routine, always very funny, then brought on The Amazing Conklins to close the show with a fast moving, entertaining act of magic and illusions. Demonstrations at the Display Room held the crowd until the "wee" hours. and everyone was happy.
Mercer helms opened Thursdays activities with his lecture at the Elementary School auditorium, explaining how he went about becoming a professional magician. The risks one assumes are similar to those of a man starting a small business; one becomes an individual contractor and must make market surveys, have a stop gap job until he gets going, and must expect to work hard, sell, and follow through. It IS possible to become a professional magician!
George McAthy, New Tops columnist, introduced Paul Stadelman and Windy Higgins for the afternoon Vent lecture which was both entertaining and educational. Preconditioning the audiences, voices in bottles and boxes, voice going down ten feet then coming back up, and two voices at once, all were explained. Teaching a spectator to do a vent dialog was a surprising demonstration. Pauls son Ron Barry and "Danny Hogan" closed with tongue twisters and the telephone voice - a most enjoyable session.
The 8 PM public show Magical Moments at the Colon Senior High Aucitorium, was billed as a two hour extravaganza Extraordinaire with girls, magic, music, comedy, puppets, illusions, etc. and was all that. Featured were Jack Bauer and Donna, "Master Illusionist;" The Dancing Magical Models; Bob Trent & Roscoe, "The Crow Ventriloquist;" Ron Fable, "Modern Day Houdini;" Rick Rogers, "Continental Conjuring;" Walt Bode & Bev, "Abdul the Magician" and Rex Ramer & Eilene, "English Comedians." The puppet act captured the audience with "Windy the Closen" who blows up a balloon, the "Professor" who plays the piano, and "Hazel the Witch." The Fabulous Fable escaped in record time from the strait jacket while suspended by the ankles above the stage. "Magical Moments" was produced and directed by Jack Bauer, who featured his levitation and the Hindu Basket trick in his act.
On Friday, August 19, John de Vries lectured on magic adapted for use in Gospel Lessons and Object Lessons. His magical apparatus is nicely designed and decorated and his lessons were pointed up in such a way as to hold attention.
Clarke 'The Senator' Crandall's "Cavalcade of Comedy" was an occasion long to be remembered. the senator answered written questions, Karrell acting as a moderator; during the audience participation session Clarke kept his audience in stiches, drawing from a vast store of premiditated nonsense you won't find anywhere else, not even in the Orben books; he is never at loss for words - words always put together so they drip and ooze and slop over with real humor. There was an organ grinder interlude with Duke, Jay Marshall, Harry Garrison; the "choir boy" procession; the coke belch bit; Mike Caldwells famous flip and all the crazy bits by Bob Lewis, Roy Kissell and Bobby Wonder. I laughed till my sides ached. 'The Senator' was given a standing ovation at the finish, and he well deserved it.
Monk Watson mastered the Ceremonies for Friday night's "Trixapoppin" at Colon High auditorium, and thr "trix" really popped. John Shirley and Bonnie, who have appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show many times (they toured the Soviet Union with Ed in 1959), opened the show with their "Marionette Revue". Their ten beautifully costumed puppets included dancers, a clown juggling a ball, a dancing "sister act," the dog and the fireplug, the grotesque stretching clown, a clown that performs on the trapeze (Yes, it swings, and he swings, too), and a dancing skeleton (the original Go Go girl). After a Watson interlude, De Young and Company presented an act of magic and illusions called "The Show Where the Impossible Becomes Possible." A flower opening, Rabbit Production and Vanish, The Boy, The Money Machine and the No Cut Scissors, Milk and Lamp, Guillotine, Blooming Rose Bush, Haunted Doll House and Ghost; then Magic from Egyp, Pyramid Mystery and the Disembodied Princess were highlights.
After intermission, Inez Kitchen's portrait of Blackstone (to hang in The Magic Castle) was unveiled. Then came Monk Watson's unforgettable performance of "The Worlds Fastest Card Trick." Sally Tadlock assisted and stole the show - hours of rehearsing must have gone into this one trick! Senor Torino and Faye in "Dovetail Deceptions" presented a smooth routine of manipulative magic with cane, multiplying candles, cigarettes, doves, restored beads, and card fans.
M.C. Watson walked the tight wire, then brought on the Madsen Brothers with the Great Andre, a monst unusual French poodle who could do unbelievable things. Six footer Ralph Pierce, veteran sorceror, delighted everyone with the Egg Bag, assisted by a young lad, and his Head Sword Cabinet with a Girl Scout from the audience. At this point the one and only Watson impersonated an orchestra conductor rehearsing "orpheus in Hades" in the railroad station, braving such interruptions as trains arriving and departing, switch engines, dive bombers, et al, to the delight of everyone. If you haven't seen this, you've missed a classic!
John Shirley and Bonnie closed the show with balloons - entertaining balloon animals, crazy ways of blowing up balloons; one balloon when released zig zagged into teh basketball basket - there were crazy hats, and a swan that laid an egg, then the Balloon Barrage spectacle, which brought the audience to its feet and had everyone shooting balloons with unbounded enthusiasm. What an exciting way to close a show!
Saturday arrived all too soon, Dorny presented his "Voice of Experience" lecture in the morning, and at 1 P.M. came the Talent Scout Show, with Wilma Rench at the organ and each act introduced in true Talent Scout fashion by a well known sponsor. Gordon Miller as M.C. presented Allen Ackerman (doves, coins, billiard balls); Jim Arnold (Vanishing and Reappearing Cane and balls; some ball juggling, well done, and Zombie). tom Mullica had routined the acrobatic cane, cigarettes, card fans, and Zombie. Gene Lee & Co. offered lovely dove productions, silk color change, another surprising dove production, the Toss Away Dove Vanish, and Vanishing Cage of Doves.
After intermission the "Sleepwalkers" played and sang three Beatle type numbers with a stage full of drums, electric guitars, and electric equipment - four boys, ages 13 -17: Barry and Gary Gross, John Wagner, and Bob Brandt. They show much promise. Dennis Loomis and Bonnie followed with 'Fantasy in Red and Black' - pretty magic; To close, Dennis escaped from a U.S. Navy Straight Jacket. He did it quickly, even though it looked impossible to move in such a restraint.
Act 7 was Dale Salwak, Nice appearance - cane vanish, ball manipulations climaxing with four white balls in each hand; card fans, catching fans of cards, the interlocked fingers card production and Zombie, wherein the Zombie vanishes at the finish. That he has worked hard is very evident.
Next to closing was Claire Manley. Smartly dressed, her magic with silks, doves, flowers was colorful and just as smart. A record was twirled on a large silk and the silk changed to a cane; The Acrobatic Cane followed. Paper butterflies were fanned onto a bouquet, and the petals of the flowers were blown about like a cloud of colored confetti, Very Pretty! Dick Cady closed the show. Each act had been auditioned and many agreed that some deserved positions on the evening shows! Many were teenagers so theres no scarcity of topflight talent so long as Talent Scouts can bring in acts like these. This was another 'first' for Abbott's, an innovation for future Get Togethers.
30th Anniversary Show. Now its Saturday evening, August 20, at Colon High - Wilma Rench has finished the overture - Recil Bordner has made his welcome speech, Messrs. Stern and Fox have presented him with the big 30th Anniversary cake - and the 30th Anniversary Show is on, with Clarke 'The Senator' Crandall as M.C.
Neil Foster opened the bill with manipulative magic - cane, cards, and Zombie - magic that was sheer beauty, and a standing ovation showed him how the audience felt about it. Dr. Clutterhouse (Elmer Gylleck) followed with some ludicrous magic - ball manipulations, shirt removal, a talb e that insisted on collapsing, then some expert bag punching to finish in a serious vein. When Crandall and sober faced Roy Kissell did the famous bullet catching trick (their version), Crandall "fahrred" the rifle. Roy caught the bullet in his mouth and spit it onto the plate which immediately shattered. The bullet was a steel ball about 1.5" in diameter. The bare description of these interludes cannot conven any idea of the resulting hilarity, for there is much funny business before the climax is reached. You just have to be there to SEE!
Cal Emmett's "Symphony in Smoke" proved to be sensational, for this veteran from Lone Star State does some unusual magic with cigarettes.
Arturo & Co. closed the first half with magic and illusions - Doves from Nowhere, Dove Vanish in Break Away Box, Giant Devils Sticks, Where and Everywhere, Vanish of five Doves, Chinese Water Vase, and a beautiful Asrah, "The Flight of the Princess," who came running back through the audience.
Bill Madsen, Editor of The New Jinx, opened after intermission with his "Magical Charades," nicely routined magic in pantomime that included a Linking Ring routine with six rings.
Senator Crandall's "olio" act included a very funny monologue while performing beautiful card fans, the Cut and Restored Clothesline (assisted by Jay Marshall and Duke Stern) and the Torn and Restored Card. The corner fit, but corner and restored card had different backs!
King & Zerita, "King and Queen of Mentalists" gave an expert exhibition of thought transmission, the mindreading act that has amazed audiences since Rober Houdins day. For a finish, with a committee of ladies and gentlemen on the stage, King, blindfolded, "read" with his finger tips and transmitted names on cards and licenses correctly to Zerita, also blindfolded.
King & Zerita, "King and Queen of Mentalters" assisting, closed the show. He travestied the tricks and happenings of the Get Together; he introduced Abbott's new Bathing Beauty, who looked strangely like Jay Marshall; he did the Box Trick; his assistant "cut" the padk, and in doing so hacked the table to pieces. The Ten Card trick worked fine, but the overzealous Duke didn't stop counting in time and got shot for his pains. Later he returned as an angel wearing a halo, still counting cards - up to 157 at that time. The girl who vanished from a box on the Wednesday night show came running through the audience with a cheery "Here I am!" The Vanishing Cage of Doves thudded to the stage and laid there; the Snake Basket trick worked - Duke arose with the card (giant variety) in his mouth. I've probably missed some of their goodies for my sides ached from laughing when the curtain descended.
The folks at Abbott's, the townspeople, the merchants, the churches, the American Legion = everyone does a grand job of making one welcome, and somehow they manage to make room for the crowd. Demonstrations were "on" at the Abbott plant whenever time permitted and many excellent tricks, illusions and books were on sale. There were also bargain packages galore. The ladies enjoyed a tour through the Lamb Knit Mill, a luncheon, and "MAGIC" (BINGO is illegal in Michigan). It was great fun to meet old friends and talk to the people one meets only at these gatherings. I've been attending these Get-Togethers for many years, and I hope it will be my good fortune to make it for many more. Each year one comes away with happy memories to treasure. I'm glad I could say "Hello" to you again, and I look forward to sseeing you again next year.
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