Abbott Magic Novelty Company
From the September, 1964 “TOPS’ Magazine. The Profession Touch” by Monk Watson: “So many, too many, years ago, I left Detroit and took to the road in a new (?) type of “Show Business” known a “Mass Selling”. I put my years of selling myself and acts into the new idea of selling a product.
As long as I can remember, I’ve used magic in my shows – not, every week, but I’d say half of my run in Detroit was built around a Professional Magician – or I’d do a quick trick on my own.
So now, how to sell via the magic route. I needed ideas and from whom could I get these ideas and tricks? I recalled a nice guy I had met in Colon about 1927 or 28 – I met him through my good friend of many years, Blackstone. This was Percy Abbott. I had remembered how he had given me a tall pitcher he had made into a Lota – that same night he also gave me the “Six Card Repeat” – the first “Squash”, a large “Twentieth Century Silk” and a couple of poker deals, and a “Thumb Tie” – still not on the market.
Now I returned to Colon to learn that my new friend had married and was building magic tricks with Blackstone. I told him what I had in mind and his mind started to work. In a couple of hours we had routined an hour of fast, fast magic, plus a few new (?) bits I was to do in selling. New props were made, such as a mind-reading act, using some of the best methods known then and NOW. The product cans were now “Foo Cans” – the “Blue Phantom” was now a piston from an automobile engine – the pitcher “Lota” was used in my oil story. Percy jumped in several times and we had more grand visits, and he always gave me helpful hints.
Now he and Recil Bordner are moved into an old barn and the loft is now a stage with the drop-lights, piano, and all – I was “On” most of the Open House and recall doing the comedy mind reading – “Letter From Brother Bill” – wire act – and several clown bits. Harry Cecil was Emcee on several shows – all for laughs.
Those Open Houses started with but 80 people and the first take was $80.00. Son after the first Open House, 1934, it became the “Get Together”, with a much larger orchestra. Duke Stern was now the solo violin and Gladys was at the piano.
Today the “Open House” is in my opinion the best of all conventions – and I’ve been on most of them. At this writing I’m told that over 500 have signed up, for this year, and you can bet another two or three hundred will show up. The little stage and few acts are now long gone. We are on for four nights with the best in magic – and many of the acts have played the best spots and TV shows. The 80 people of the first night would now find some thirteen hundred milling around the new High School – fighting to get in – Mrs. Wilma Rench at the Hammond organ plays the show with “Big Time” style and hits every cue.
Percy is gone, but as long as we have “Get Togethers” I will see him in the wing – watching the shows. It was his idea, and a good one that put Colon on the Map of Magic.
Now, Recil Bordner and Neil Foster in the Captain’s Chairs, we’ll go on and on to bigger shows, maybe a week stand.”
Monk appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in 1942. 1944, 1946, 1957, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, and 1979. He wrote a long running column in Tops called “The Professional Touch”. He died in 1981.