Magician’s ashes returned to home for burial
Kalamazoo Gazette, August 4, 1997, by Lynette A. Kalsnes: “ COLON – The late Harry Blackstone Jr. will come to rest here in a little country cemetery next to his father and many other magicians during Magic Week.
A burial service Tuesday will be private, said Abbott’s Magic Co. President Greg Bordner, but the public can remember and celebrate the life of the famous magician who grew up here during a 4 p.m. memorial service at the high school Saturday.
The Saturday service is part of the 60th annual Abbott’s Magic Get-Together, a four-day combination of magic shows and a convention that starts Wednesday.
The Saturday memorial will include an invocation, speeches by magicians who knew Blackstone and his father, and a slide show on his life.
“This is their home-town.” Bordner said. “This is where Harry Jr. grew up. This is where Blackstone Sr. lived for 20 to 30 years.”
Blackstone Jr. died May 14 at age 63 in California.
The Blackstone family found Colon by chance in the 1920s.
Blackstone Sr. and his troupe were staying at West Lake near Kalamazoo during the off-season to build new effects and repair equipment, according to an Abbott’s Magic Co. history. But the company soon outgrew its quarters.
Blackstone’s wife found a new summer place for the company in Colon while she was out driving one day and spotted an island for sale on Sturgeon Lake.
Blackstone Sr. made Colon his home away from the road, helping Colon earn its self-proclaimed title, “Magic Capitol of the World.” In the early 1930s, he and Percy Abbott founded what is now Abbott’s Magic Company.
But the pair did not get along. Blackstone left the business within a year and Abbott took on a partner, Recil Bordner. Bordner’s son, Greg, now owns the business.
Blackstone Sr. opened up his tour at the Colon Opera House, said Colon Chamber of Commerce President Don Farrand, who attended those performances and played with Blackstone Jr. as a child.
“All the kids would get up on stage and he’d pull out a rabbit and give it to one of the kids,” Farrand said. The lucky child got to keep the rabbit.
Blackstone also called children up on stage when he would make a birdcage disappear. He gathered children around him and had them touch his hands or the birdcage. “He just moved his hands and away it went,” Farrand said.
Blackstone Jr., who started appearing and disappearing from his father’s illusions when he was 6 months old, later performed that same trick, Farrand said. He also performed some of his father’s other signature illusions, such as the dancing handkerchief and floating light bulb.
Blackstone Jr. performed around the world until late in his life. Last December, he was still listed as the main attraction at Ceaser’s Casino.
“Harry (Jr) was the last of the old-time magicians,” said Farrnad.”