Abbott’s Get-Together 1964, Watson

    The 1964 Abbott’s Get Together

 

 

From Abbott’s TOPS Magazine, October 1964; by Monk Watson: ”The big show is over, or was it the big shows … really I’m not back to normal yet, but I hope to be before I finish this October Column. Neil Foster has his whip out, even though he is too weak to use it. I’m just a chicken so he says, “Monk, how about the October column?”  That’s all it takes to make me give up golf and fishing and stuff like that and get busy. Here goes!

During the Get-Together so many came up to me and said, “What is this guy, ‘The Senator,’ trying to do to you Monk?” I just laughed, really not knowing too many Senators, until I gave it another thought and came up with the idea that they must be talking about a real nice guy, whom I used to know pretty well, by the name of Clarke, or was it Crandall, or perhaps Clarke Crandall. Then it dawned on me that in the past I had read some column, “It’s a Mystery to Me,” and in this column he had mentioned my name a couple of hundred times. Now I do recall some of his writings. I also picked up the September TOPS      and there it was again … “OBESITY” .. (see previous reference to Watson, Monk), I can recall where in the dear dead past I referred to my former friend as, “Fat something”. He never forgets.

For the other side of this great guy, one would be so very happily surprised to learn that he is without a doubt one of the cleverest writers and speakers in the field of Magic or most any other subject you can think of. My good friend (of the Elsie Janis days) was pretty upset too, thinking how deeply I had been hurt by this brute of a Senator. I let Dorny continue to think so even during the shows (where Dorny had both hands full of hard work putting up with some of the greater STARS of the show business). I didn’t tell him that I had spent most of the day with Crandall, Bob Lewis, Mark Leddy and Milky, having more laughs than most men can handle. I’ve not had so many laughs in many, many years. Krandall, or is it Crandall, was in fine form during the whole four days and nights. He was “ON” all of the time while others were sleeping, fishing, buying tricks, or just visiting; this man was in a very easy chair having fun. As I said before, and I mean it, here is a real great guy with more talent (wish he had it) than any five men I know. One of these days he’ll bring out a Children’s Book and it will sell like hot cakes, or maybe like books. Some of the lines will have to be changed a bit, but I want the first one.

Back to the shows and some of the people I saw and visited with. First of all Russ Walsh and I closed the meeting, as we have for many years, on Sunday morning. After everyone has left we get together and talk about the other days and other conventions across the country, and when we finally finish we figure that the Get-together in Colon is the BEST of all Magical Conventions. The acts were all so good that one would use up a lot of time trying to review them, and I know that it will be covered in other columns, so all I want to say is, “This was a dilly of a convention, get-together, meeting, or just shows …” I’ve been to all of them across the country and with no meetings to attend it was a great success. Over 680 registered, another thousand found seats in the gym at the school, so what could be better.

The Night Before part that used to be just for the visiting Magicians, turned out to be a real Magic Show, with everyone on their toes outdoing themselves to please a packed house. Duke Stern was not too busy to help me along with Karrell Fox to bring back an act I did in the After Piece in Vaudeville with Bert Wheeler … (not the Bert Wheeler of Magic). The blow off of the act was that it had gone off well. Strange as it may seem the very acts that some of the Magicians thought a bit too long were the acts that the laymen are still talking about. We all know the answers to most of the tricks, but when you figure that you have another thousand people who are still fooled, one has to stop and think about his own act and the tricks that perhaps bore him … they’re new to your audience, so pull them out of the bag and do them over and over again.

The Tadlocks were here again, coming in on the same plane with Mark Leddy (who books most of the acts for the Ed Sullivan Shows). I had called them the night before they took the plane and told them that Mark would be on the same flight and for them to talk to him. They landed in Battle Creek and by that time they were good friends. Milky and I had just done a television show and with my Mary we picked up the trio. The trip to Colon was interesting, because I had arranged a room for Mark Leddy in a home on the Palmer Lake in Colon. Mark is a lover of nature and proved it by walking around in the yard of this home after the shows were over. He got a big kick out of the shows, and I believe he’ll come back again next year.

One didn’t have to go to the shows to see real Magic. There was more Magic to be seen at the Abbott showroom than a person could dream about. With Foster and several others showing the newest in Magic, one could spend hours just watching. Foster did the Zombie every hour, and each time it was the great masterpiece in his hands. Doves could have been on every show, because they’ll talk about them as long as Magic is shown. Sherm put a girl into a cabinet and that alone was a bit of magic. He put girl filled every inch and yet he put more swords and knives through that darn cabinet than I could count. A Six Footer cut into sixths was simply out of this world. The girl at the Hammond, Wilma Rench, never missed a cue and believe me that is Magic in itself.

I’ve gotta say a few kind words about my godson, Harry Blackstone Jr. He is a tall, fine looking man of thirty with every move of a seasoned actor. Hi voice (he can throw away Magic) was fine, and he could very nicely take over a lead in a Broadway show. However, I’m sure he’ll never throw away the thing he loves; Magic. One could close his eyes and see and hear his great father in every move. The cage at the tips of his fingers, the dancing handkerchief, the floating light bulb, were done with the same Professional Touch as his father had used for so many years. I’m mighty proud of the boy.

So Neil, here it is, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I’ve talked too much. I wanted to say more about my run with Bob Lewis and the midnight gang, but they know how much I enjoyed them. Mark, I’ll be calling when I get to New York, and we’ll hash over the ACTS again. I wish more of the boys from New York could have been here. Felix Greenfield was here and was thrilled over our shows, I’m sure. Now I’m going fishing, and I wish you all could come along.”

 

Abbott’s 1965 Get-Together, Crandall

Abbott’s Get-Together of 1965

 

 

From TOPS Magazine, October 1965, By Clarke Crandall (who continues his comeback aimed at TOPS Columnist Gene Gordon who had written that Crandall was a “frustrated” magician and TV Personality.): “The Abbott Get-Together shows will no doubt be reviewed elsewhere. Naturally I have a few random comments and personal opinions. Due to an indulgent editor I am able to make them. Having a fourth public show instead of the usual nite-before party was a good idea. I always enjoy the Get-Together. Just to visit with seldom-seen friends, relax and exchange stories is reward enough for me. When you are also able to see such fine performers as Bob Lewis, Dorny, Jay Marshall, Karrall Fox, John Mulholland, Neil Foster and Zaney Blaney, it’s well worth the trip.

I especially enjoyed Monk Watson’s very commercial magic act. I am not speaking of the pantomine rope walking, orchestra leading, train passing pre-taped routine. He does a solid entertianment-packed magic act with standard props that, in my opinion, is one of the best. His apple, rice and checker routine is a classic and the audience, which included me, enjoyed it. Next month I may blast him for no particular reason, just to keep my image. Such inconsistency is to be expected from we who are filled with frustration.

John Mulholland, a good friend of many years, was a delight to watch. His lecture was well attended and presented. John’s magic is that of a glorious and past era done with a modern flair and professional ease. His props are magically endowed museum pieces and this classic style of presenting the art is seldom seen because few can do it. John is a living legend but I fear he is a frustrated comedian: otherwise why would he stick his head, adorened with a red ribbon bow, thru the backdrop during one of my afternoon programs? The resultant laughs he received may go to his head and he’ll take up comedy magic. Let’s hope not.

Jack Gwynne’s lecture was filled with timely, informative, usable material. Amateur magicians as well as the professionals in the audience were fortunate to have an opportunity to learn from Jack, who knows his business; magic. This month, October, Jack and his chosen mate, Anee, will celebrate fifty years in magic and marriage. Drop them a congratulary message if you have time, I know they’ll appreciate it. People don’t come any better than Anne and Jack. Jack doesn’t know it but I’ve been in love with Anne for nearly twenty-five years. I hope he doesn’t find out before we get too old to elope.

Karrell Fox and Duke Stern break me up, which isn’t easy. Duke is the world’s greatest straight man in a world where everyone is a comic. Karrell is too funny and gets too many laughs to suit me. Besides, he is also frustrated. Jay Marshall is also very funny but he belches a lot during his act. He eats radishes and drinks Coke just before he goes on. The belches help punctuate his vent routine and acts as misdirection for his pulsative Adam’s apple which vibrates like the heads on a Ubangi exotic. He is also frustrated.

Zaney Blaney, the tall Texas ambassador of good will, has a commercially entertaining act and the best “suspension”  I’ve ever seen. If anything in magic will fool you, this will. I am not sure but I think the two small stepladders have something to do with it. Either that or he starches the drape the girl lies on. Some day I’ll ask him but he’ll probably be too frustrated to tell me the secret.

The large family, illusion, stage-type magic was well taken care of by the Frantic Franzens, the Amazing Conklins and Ken Diamond and Louise. They work a lot and their presentations show it. They look good from out front and that counts. Josef and George Smiley work fast, well, and are truly professional. Like their ads say, “Blink, and you’ll miss a trick.”

Tom Palmer and Bunny continue to improve and the audience, mostly magicians, were amused and entertained. Tom is really frustrated but Bunny is not. None of Tom’s tricks work right and it’s a shame because he tries so hard. It’s a hilarious act but I fear some of the subtle satire goes over the heads of laymen present. This is not a serious handicap as Tom is a talented performer and can easily adjust the act to suit any audince.

Bill and Sally Tadlock are young, pleasant and also talented, which is reason enough for me to dislike them. They claim to live in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I am not sure there is such a place. Monk Watson says he never played there and he’s played everywhere. This well-adjusted  couple do magic no harm. Sally smiles a lot and she’s very pretty. Bill is pretty too and he dresses well and laughs at my jokes, so, in time, I may learn to put up with them.

Bob Lewis, Ginny, Clare Cummings and Peggy rented an abandoned farm house near Colon. It was stocked with chickens, guinea hens, cows, pigs, horses and hound dogs. It was far enough from town so that Bob could practice his banjo plunking without having some irate light-sleeper in the next room hammer on the walls. I later learned that after they left, egg and milk production fell off considerably. All four of these people are frustrated. Chic Schoke, the insurance tycoon, visited them at their rustic retreat and took a guided tour of the stables to bring back boyhood memories. Besides making him feel at home, he said it cleared up his blocked sinuses.
My young Chinese friend, De Yip Louie, did his colorful club act. Louie got his start in magic years ago as an assistant to the Great George (Playboy Club) Johnstone. George’s beautiful wife, Betty, who is ninety percent of the act, was playing a local maternity ward. George, who is so frustrated he doesn’t dare face an audience alone, put a Chinese mask on Louie and broke him in as an assistant. I think he called him Murphy. At the end of the act he’d ask Louie to remove the mask. Louie looked more Chinese than the mask. Bitten by the magic bug, Louie later did close-up work at a Chicago Booze spa. He used a line I gave him: “You realize I don’t have a Chinaman’s chance of doing this trick.” On stage he has two large, authentic Chinese curtains as backdrops. At Abbott’s he asked me if I knew of any way he could improve the act. I suggested he try working behind the curtains. He promised to consider it. Louie is a good boy; a little frustrated but I like him, which is a handicap he can soon outgrow.

I rode to Colon with Leonard Carrion who, besides being chief engineer at Field Museum here, is my manager, audio engineer and comedy consultant. His plump wife. Eunice, came along as combination cook and chaperon. She doesn’t fry bacon too well but washes dishes nice. Leonard recently won a new air-conditioned Ford in a raffle. He likes barber shop quartets and does card tricks, which give you an idea of what manner of man he is … They are both very patient and I can put up with them easily. Both are frustrated.

Someone with a moustache named Senator Crandall did an hourly daily program of nothing. The audinece didn’t walk out until it was over, which speaks well of them. He was hampered by Frannie Marshall and her collection of female cohorts. He was constantly interrupted by four frustrated, malcontented friends named Jay, Duke, Monk and Karrell, which is a hint of what occurred.

Recil, Neil, the Abbott staff and all connected with organizing the Get-Together deserve congratulations for a job well done. The townspeople continue to be tolerant with a few inebriated weirdo aggravators who, in the early morning hours, cluster outside the Legion Bar, make disparaging remarks to the natives, scoff at the local customs and generally make nuisances of themselves. Luckily they are a disturbing minority, but they leave their mark when the affair is over. Recil and Neil live and work there. They must hear the brunt of the citizens’ complaints and they don’t deserve it. It’s enough to make them frustrated!”

 

“Senator” Clarke Crandall (1906-1975) was an American comedy magician and magic dealer. He developed funny routines for such effects as the Card Duck and the Cups and Balls. He wrote a column for The New Tops called “It’s A Mystery To Me.” Abbott’s Get-Together presents the “Senator Crandall Award” for Comedy excellence each year. He appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in He appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abbott’s 1965 Get-Together

Abbott’s Get-Together of 1965

 

 

From TOPS Magazine, October 1965, By Clarke Crandall (who continues his comeback aimed at TOPS Columnist Gene Gordon who had written that Crandall was a “frustrated” magician and TV Personality.): “The Abbott Get-Together shows will no doubt be reviewed elsewhere. Naturally I have a few random comments and personal opinions. Due to an indulgent editor I am able to make them. Having a fourth public show instead of the usual nite-before party was a good idea. I always enjoy the Get-Together. Just to visit with seldom-seen friends, relax and exchange stories is reward enough for me. When you are also able to see such fine performers as Bob Lewis, Dorny, Jay Marshall, Karrall Fox, John Mulholland, Neil Foster and Zaney Blaney, it’s well worth the trip.

I especially enjoyed Monk Watson’s very commercial magic act. I am not speaking of the pantomine rope walking, orchestra leading, train passing pre-taped routine. He does a solid entertianment-packed magic act with standard props that, in my opinion, is one of the best. His apple, rice and checker routine is a classic and the audience, which included me, enjoyed it. Next month I may blast him for no particular reason, just to keep my image. Such inconsistency is to be expected from we who are filled with frustration.

John Mulholland, a good friend of many years, was a delight to watch. His lecture was well attended and presented. John’s magic is that of a glorious and past era done with a modern flair and professional ease. His props are magically endowed museum pieces and this classic style of presenting the art is seldom seen because few can do it. John is a living legend but I fear he is a frustrated comedian: otherwise why would he stick his head, adorened with a red ribbon bow, thru the backdrop during one of my afternoon programs? The resultant laughs he received may go to his head and he’ll take up comedy magic. Let’s hope not.

Jack Gwynne’s lecture was filled with timely, informative, usable material. Amateur magicians as well as the professionals in the audience were fortunate to have an opportunity to learn from Jack, who knows his business; magic. This month, October, Jack and his chosen mate, Anee, will celebrate fifty years in magic and marriage. Drop them a congratulary message if you have time, I know they’ll appreciate it. People don’t come any better than Anne and Jack. Jack doesn’t know it but I’ve been in love with Anne for nearly twenty-five years. I hope he doesn’t find out before we get too old to elope.

Karrell Fox and Duke Stern break me up, which isn’t easy. Duke is the world’s greatest straight man in a world where everyone is a comic. Karrell is too funny and gets too many laughs to suit me. Besides, he is also frustrated. Jay Marshall is also very funny but he belches a lot during his act. He eats radishes and drinks Coke just before he goes on. The belches help punctuate his vent routine and acts as misdirection for his pulsative Adam’s apple which vibrates like the heads on a Ubangi exotic. He is also frustrated.

Zaney Blaney, the tall Texas ambassador of good will, has a commercially entertaining act and the best “suspension”  I’ve ever seen. If anything in magic will fool you, this will. I am not sure but I think the two small stepladders have something to do with it. Either that or he starches the drape the girl lies on. Some day I’ll ask him but he’ll probably be too frustrated to tell me the secret.

The large family, illusion, stage-type magic was well taken care of by the Frantic Franzens, the Amazing Conklins and Ken Diamond and Louise. They work a lot and their presentations show it. They look good from out front and that counts. Josef and George Smiley work fast, well, and are truly professional. Like their ads say, “Blink, and you’ll miss a trick.”

Tom Palmer and Bunny continue to improve and the audience, mostly magicians, were amused and entertained. Tom is really frustrated but Bunny is not. None of Tom’s tricks work right and it’s a shame because he tries so hard. It’s a hilarious act but I fear some of the subtle satire goes over the heads of laymen present. This is not a serious handicap as Tom is a talented performer and can easily adjust the act to suit any audince.

Bill and Sally Tadlock are young, pleasant and also talented, which is reason enough for me to dislike them. They claim to live in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I am not sure there is such a place. Monk Watson says he never played there and he’s played everywhere. This well-adjusted  couple do magic no harm. Sally smiles a lot and she’s very pretty. Bill is pretty too and he dresses well and laughs at my jokes, so, in time, I may learn to put up with them.

Bob Lewis, Ginny, Clare Cummings and Peggy rented an abandoned farm house near Colon. It was stocked with chickens, guinea hens, cows, pigs, horses and hound dogs. It was far enough from town so that Bob could practice his banjo plunking without having some irate light-sleeper in the next room hammer on the walls. I later learned that after they left, egg and milk production fell off considerably. All four of these people are frustrated. Chic Schoke, the insurance tycoon, visited them at their rustic retreat and took a guided tour of the stables to bring back boyhood memories. Besides making him feel at home, he said it cleared up his blocked sinuses.
My young Chinese friend, De Yip Louie, did his colorful club act. Louie got his start in magic years ago as an assistant to the Great George (Playboy Club) Johnstone. George’s beautiful wife, Betty, who is ninety percent of the act, was playing a local maternity ward. George, who is so frustrated he doesn’t dare face an audience alone, put a Chinese mask on Louie and broke him in as an assistant. I think he called him Murphy. At the end of the act he’d ask Louie to remove the mask. Louie looked more Chinese than the mask. Bitten by the magic bug, Louie later did close-up work at a Chicago Booze spa. He used a line I gave him: “You realize I don’t have a Chinaman’s chance of doing this trick.” On stage he has two large, authentic Chinese curtains as backdrops. At Abbott’s he asked me if I knew of any way he could improve the act. I suggested he try working behind the curtains. He promised to consider it. Louie is a good boy; a little frustrated but I like him, which is a handicap he can soon outgrow.

I rode to Colon with Leonard Carrion who, besides being chief engineer at Field Museum here, is my manager, audio engineer and comedy consultant. His plump wife. Eunice, came along as combination cook and chaperon. She doesn’t fry bacon too well but washes dishes nice. Leonard recently won a new air-conditioned Ford in a raffle. He likes barber shop quartets and does card tricks, which give you an idea of what manner of man he is … They are both very patient and I can put up with them easily. Both are frustrated.

Someone with a moustache named Senator Crandall did an hourly daily program of nothing. The audinece didn’t walk out until it was over, which speaks well of them. He was hampered by Frannie Marshall and her collection of female cohorts. He was constantly interrupted by four frustrated, malcontented friends named Jay, Duke, Monk and Karrell, which is a hint of what occurred.

Recil, Neil, the Abbott staff and all connected with organizing the Get-Together deserve congratulations for a job well done. The townspeople continue to be tolerant with a few inebriated weirdo aggravators who, in the early morning hours, cluster outside the Legion Bar, make disparaging remarks to the natives, scoff at the local customs and generally make nuisances of themselves. Luckily they are a disturbing minority, but they leave their mark when the affair is over. Recil and Neil live and work there. They must hear the brunt of the citizens’ complaints and they don’t deserve it. It’s enough to make them frustrated!”

 

“Senator” Clarke Crandall (1906-1975) was an American comedy magician and magic dealer. He developed funny routines for such effects as the Card Duck and the Cups and Balls. He wrote a column for The New Tops called “It’s A Mystery To Me.” Abbott’s Get-Together presents the “Senator Crandall Award” for Comedy excellence each year. He appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in He appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abbott’s to Close?

Abbott’s To Close?

Taken from The Colon Express newspaper, July 23, 1942: “NO TRUTH IN RUMOR ABBOTT’S WILL CLOSE

It has come to our notice that a rumor is being spread around that the Abbott Magic Novelty Company intends closing within the next few months. In justice to our faithful employees, we brand this and any similar rumors as malicious gossip, and feeling that we should nit it in the bud, we say emphatically that nothing could be further from the truth – that we have no intention of closing our plant.

It is true that there is a dearth of materials for the manufacture of some of our products, but so far we have not in any manner halted our operations, as we have taken advantage of materials still available to us by devising an additional line of effects from such products. The plant is busy even through this summer season, which normally, in our business, is a so-called of-season.

(signed) Percy Abbott, Manager

 

This was, of course, the war years, and that meant rationing and restriction on various supplies. Here is a quote from Rick Fisher’s book, “Percy Abbott Magical Years”: “Supplies were few and far between. Rubber, wire, plastics and gasoline were needed for the war effort and Percy wondered how he could manufacture without these necessities. He applied for a special permit with the U. S. Government to provide the troops with anti-gambling books and props for entertainment and was awarded ‘special status’ that allowed him to purchase raw materials for production.”

Abbott’s Final Get-Together

Percy Abbott’s Final Magic “Get-together”

From the South Bend Tribune, 1959: “COLON – Percy Abbott, world-renowned illusionist, who made a hobby into the world’s largest magic factory, will retire from his mystic trade after two one-man shows in September.

The only U. S. Show will be staged by the “magician’s magician” at the 26th annual Abbott’s Magic Get-Together, at Coldwater, the week of Sept. 7 through 12. He will make his final professional appearance Sept. 16 at the British IBM Convention at Bruxton, England.

General manager Recil Bordner, Abbott’s manufacturing partner, announced that the Coldwater meeting will be the final Abbott’s Get-Together as Percy enters semi-retirement.

Continue Factory.

The Abbott family will continue to operate their magic factory here which employs up to 50 persons during peak seasons and manufactures trade equipment ranging in cost from 10 cents to $1,500.

Abbott, who came to this country in 1930, is completing his life story, being published under the title, “Magic of a Life Time.”

The factory, and Percy personally, tale credit from most of the world’s most noted magicians for changing expensive, cumbersome props into lightweight, collapsible articles. Most of the manufacturing is done in plastic and aluminum.

Abbott has appeared on other get-together programs, but only as a last-minute fill-in.

Bordner said the final performance of Abbott will probably bring a turnout of the world’s greatest magicians. Abbott has been associated, at one time or another in his lifetime, with most of the greats of the profession.

Writes Autobiography

Abbott’s book covers his many years and hundreds of experiences in all parts of the world, his early years in Australia, his numerous trips through the Orient and his knowledge of the early originations of today’s popular illusions and his experiences with other great magicians. The book also includes many of his effects in magic, with full explanations.

Percy began using magic at the age of 10 and ended up living here after a fishing trip to Southwestern Michigan. He met Gladys Goodrich here and they were married, raising two sons and a daughter.

Perhaps his most famous trick is the vanishing water glass. The Abbott firm has manufactured and sold over 70,000 of the items. His clients are both amateur and professional and he has even invented some of those advertising sign gimmicks.

There is speculation that his last U.S. show will probably be his greatest and will bring out an unusual following of the public and professionals to Coldwater.

The semi-retirement is a term that leaves Abbott an out if he ever wants to return to the stage. A showman can’t resist being a showman, Abbott explains.”

 

 

 

Abbott’s Metal Shop Destroyed

Abbott’s Metal Shop Destroyed

From the Colon Express, November 20, 1952:”Good Work of Firemen Saves Other Buildings

Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company is gradually getting its several departments organized from the effects of the fire Saturday morning which completely wiped out the metal shop building on Canal Street, together with all the machinery and supplies in storage.

The fire was discovered shortly after 4:00 o’clock Saturday morning and had evidently been burning for some time, getting a good start. The fire started in the front part of the building and when heat or an explosion from inside shattered the front windows, the noise aroused Mrs. Anna Whitford and daughter, Mrs. W. C. Schultz, who turned in the alarm.

The Colon firemen responded quickly and realizing more help was needed to confine the blaze to the one building, the Burr Oak truck was called. The firemen did a good job confining the blaze to the Abbott building which was completely destroyed within an hour.

The Whitford home, garage and barn were all in the danger zone to the west and south of the burning building, but all were saved, but somewhat damaged. The house will need new windows and repainting. The Farrand barn, just across the alley to the east, was also saved, with considerable damage to the siding.

The south part of the building was of cement block construction and it was those walls which protected the adjoining buildings, possibly preventing more serious results.

The Abbott’s have five buildings, each housing a different department. The burned structure housed much of the metal working equipment and machinery, as well as hard-to-replace metal supplies. All the stage equipment, tents and chairs, used for the big get-together, were stored in the upper story of the building. All was consumed in the blaze.

Percy Abbott was in Chicago on business and arrived home a few hours after being notified of the loss. Recil Bordner, the other member of the company, was at the scene of the fire but unable to rescue more than a few plans and blueprints. The loss is partially covered by insurance. Many of the secret patterns and drawings will be difficult to replace.

The owners are undecided as yet regarding rebuilding at the same site.”

Abbott Employees, 1961

Employees at Abbott’s

 

 

From The New TOPS Magazine, date unknown, approximately May of 1961, by Recil Bordner: “This year, the Magician’s Get-Together will be held here in COLON for the first time in nine years. The dates are August 24th, 25th, and 26th, and it will be held in the new High School Auditorium. The visiting Magicians will be housed, for the most part, in the homes of citizens of Colon. The rooms are to be made available through the Colon Junior Chamber of Commerce. The reason for this early announcement is to make it possible for you to plan your vacation. Anyone wanting to rent a cottage for that week should write to me soon, as these cottages on the lake are reserved many months in advance. WATCH NEXT MONTHS TOPS FOR MORE DETAILS!

Last month I wrote about some of the people who have worked here at the Magic Factory. I had mentioned only the earliest ones, so to those of you who wrote that I had left out Si Stebbins, Gus Rapp, Walter Gydesen, Father Mattox, Frank and Hazel Galliger, Bill Bright, Ted Ward, and Duke Stern, I want to say that I did not forget them but just did not have the space for everyone. In time I expect to introduce you to all our Magic Family, right down to our latest member, “Pete” Bouton who is in the wood and illusion department of our workshop.

To continue with those now with us, in somewhat the order I which they started, there is Ray Fillmore; yes, his great, great, uncle was the thirteenth President of the United States. Ray is in charge of the plastic department, where he started in September, 1939. He makes the plastic miracle glasses, pitchers, bowls, and all the other intricate plastic fakes. He mixes, compounds, and packages the wax, ink tablets, beer powder, roughing fluid, oil of milk, etc., listed in the accessory classification of our catalog. He is the one who makes the trick glasses – the ones of real glass with the bottoms out or with the slits so neatly concealed in the sides. Then in his spare time, he converts watches into rising card mechanisms and spring motors into Simplified Snake Tricks. As far as I know, America’s oldest living Magician is “Gus” Rapp – ninety years old on January 29, 1961. Gus worked here several years in the late ‘40’s and early ‘50’s. He made over fifty different types of card, money, and paper tricks, and wrote a couple of books. Besides tricks he worked with papermâché, making “Punch and Judy” puppets and the heads for Ventriloquial figures.” Gus Rapp died on July 30, 1961. He appeared at the Abbott’s Get-Together in 1949 and 1955.

Abbott Co. Puffaroo Lawsuit

The Abbott Magic Company “Puffaroo” Lawsuit

 

PETER A. LARRAMENDY et al., Respondents, v. JOSEPH N. MYRES et al., Defendants; PERCY ABBOTT et al., Appellants.

COUNSEL

Jack Schnider and Robert J. Sullivan for Appellants.

James C. Hollingsworth and Hammons, Willard & Todd for Respondents.

OPINION

WOOD (Parker), J.

Action for damages resulting from burns received by the minor plaintiff when a smoke-producing device, used by her in a dancing act, set fire to her dress. In a trial without a jury, plaintiffs obtained judgment against defendants Abbott and Bordner, individually, and against defendants Abbott and Bordner doing business as Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company. Those defendants appeal from the judgment.

Upon motion of plaintiffs the action was dismissed as to defendants Myres, Groves, and high school district. Motions for nonsuits were granted as to defendants Francine Lanteri, Jolene Lanteri Jenkins, and George Boston.

Defendants Francine Lanteri and Jolene Lanteri Jenkins, known as the Lanteri sisters, conducted a dancing school in Ventura Deanna Larramendy, plaintiff herein, 12 years of age, was a pupil in that school who had been taken ballet and toe dancing lessons about two years. On April 15, 1950, the Lanteri sisters staged a dancing exhibition in the auditorium of the Ventura Junior College wherein several pupils of the dancing school participated. Deanna was chosen for the leading role–to play the part of Persephone in a ballet, based on the myth of the seasons, known as “The Underground Queen.” It was a part of her role, while dancing, to step on or trip a smoke-making device and thereby cause a puff or cloud of smoke to arise from the floor. Then, out of the smoke or “illusion,” Pluto would arrive on the stage.

Francine Lanteri read, in a catalogue or trade magazine “for stage props,” an advertisement regarding a smoke-making device known as “Abbott’s Pufferoo.” She wrote to Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company, located on Sunset Boulevard [126 Cal.App.2d 638] in Los Angeles, and ordered the smoke-making device sent to her by mail C.O.D. Thereafter she received the device by mail C.O.D. Defendants Abbott and Bordner operated Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company located at 6505 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. In October, 1949, an advertisement bearing the title “Abbott’s Pufferoo” was placed in a magazine, known as “Genii,” by Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company, Colon, Michigan.

The device was received in evidence, but it has not been forwarded to this court. It has not been described in any of the briefs or in the reporter’s transcript. It seems from statements made by witnesses in explaining how the device was operated (and from written directions which were with the device) that the device consisted of: a receptacle into which explosive powder was poured; a 4 1/2 volt battery; a filament wire which extended horizontally through the middle of the powder receptacle and was connected with one end of the battery and a metal piece above a contact post; and another wire which was connected with the other end of the battery and with the contact post. In the package in which the device was received, there was a bottle of explosive powder and also a piece of paper containing directions for operating the device. The writing which was on that paper is set forth below. fn. 1 After [126 Cal.App.2d 639] the receptacle was half filled with powder–to the place where the powder touched the filament wire, and after the device was placed on the floor, the device was operated by stepping on the metal piece (above the contact post) which contact lighted the filament wire which ignited the powder. There was evidence that the device would not work if the receptacle was more than one-half filled with powder and the powder covered the filament wire. (It was stated that if the powder covered the wire, the wire would not ignite the powder because the powder would absorb the heat.)

Prior to the production of the play, there were three rehearsals in which the smoke device was used. On one of those occasions the device did not work when Deanna stepped on it. On the two occasions when it worked, Deanna did not see any flame coming from it. Francine Lanteri did not see any flame come from the device when it was used at rehearsals. During rehearsals Deanna wore shorts or tights. During the play she wore a ballet costume which was a flimsy dress with a full skirt made of six or seven layers of tarlatan or tulle. The bottom hem of the skirt was about 9 inches from the floor, and the diameter of the skirt at the bottom hem was about 3 feet.

The device was placed on the stage for use by Deanna. During the play when she stepped on the metal contact piece there was a puff of smoke, and a flame from the device set fire to her dress and she was severely burned.

The court found, in part, as follows: The device was manufactured, sold, and supplied by defendants Abbott, Bordner, and Abbott and Bordner doing business as Abbot’s Magic Novelty Company. The device was designed, manufactured, sold, and supplied for the purpose of emitting a puff of smoke and creating an illusion in the staging of performances such as said ballet performance. The devise was imminently, inherently, and manifestly dangerous in that in addition to producing a puff of smoke it produced a large flash of flame when operated according to the instructions furnished by said defendants, and when so operated it was likely to cause dress material such as that worn by Deanna to become ignited, all of which was known or should have been known by said defendants. At said performance Deanna stepped on the device in accordance with directions accompanying the device, and as a proximate result thereof a flash of flame was emitted which ignited the dress and caused it to burst into flame and severely burn Deanna. The device was dangerous for its [126 Cal.App.2d 640] intended use, namely, that of creating an illusion, and said danger was known or should have been known to said defendants. The device was used pursuant to directions which accompanied the device. Said defendants neglected to reasonably warn and inform Deanna of the dangerous propensities of said device. The only warning and information given to Deanna was that set forth in said directions, and said warning and information advised her only as to the danger from smoke and not as to the danger of fire. Deanna was not contributorily negligent. There was no intervening causation or negligence of a third person that would relieve said defendants from liability.

Appellants contend that they owed no legal duty to plaintiffs and that consequently there was no liability on the part of appellants. They argue that there was no evidence of any personal relationship between them and plaintiffs; that the device was purchased by the Lanteri sisters, and that the purchase involved no oral representations and was based on an advertisement. [1] “The courts of this state are committed to the doctrine that the duty of care exists in the absence of privity of contract not only where the article manufactured is inherently dangerous but also where it is reasonably certain, if negligently manufactured or constructed, to place life and limb in peril.” (Sheward v. Virtue, 20 Cal.2d 410, 412 [126 P.2d 345].) “It is universally recognized that a manufacturer or seller of an article which is inherently and imminently dangerous to human life or health, or which, although not dangerous in itself, becomes so when applied to its intended use in the usual and customary manner, is liable to any person, whether the purchaser or a third person, who, without fault on his part, sustains an injury which is the natural and proximate result of negligence in the manufacture or sale of the article, if the injury might have been reasonably anticipated. Liability does not rest on the ground of warranty; nor does liability depend on privity of contracts, but rather on a breach of a public duty owing to all persons into whose hands the article may lawfully come, and by whom it may be used, and whose lives may be endangered thereby, to exercise care and caution commensurate with the peril and not to expose human life to danger by carelessness or negligence.” (65 C.J.S., pp. 621, 622, 623, ? 100.) [2] In Restatement, Torts, page 1039, section 388, it is said: “One who supplies directly or through a third person a chattel for another to use, is subject to liability to those [126 Cal.App.2d 641] whom the supplier should expect to use the chattel with the consent of the other or to be in the vicinity of its probable use, for bodily harm caused by the use of the chattel in the manner for which and by a person for whose use it is supplied, if the supplier (a) knows, or from facts known to him should realize, that the chattel is or is likely to be dangerous for the use for which it is supplied; (b) and has no reason to believe that those for whose use the chattel is supplied will realize its dangerous condition; and (c) fails to exercise reasonable care to inform them of its dangerous condition or of the facts which make it likely to be so.” [3] The court found, as above stated, that the device was inherently dangerous. That finding was supported by the evidence. The device, which was operated by igniting powder with a lighted electric wire, caused a fire-producing explosion. The court also found, upon sufficient evidence, that defendants neglected to reasonably warn of the dangerous propensities of said device. The written directions, which were with the device when it was received, warned: to hold the device away from the face while filling the hole with powder; and to stand back when making contact (when the device is on the floor) so that “puff” will not strike face. There was no warning of danger from fire. There was liability on the part of appellants.

[4] Appellants contend further that the court erred (1) in receiving testimony regarding certain tests of the device which the chief of the fire department of Ventura made prior to the trial and (2) in permitting a demonstration of the operation of the device to be made in the courtroom during the trial. The chief, called as a witness by plaintiffs, testified that prior to the trial he operated the device numerous times by following said directions (which were received with the device), except that he did not use the powder which came with the device; that in those tests he held material, similar to the material of Deanna’s dress, 8 or 10 inches above the device and in each test the fire that was produced was at least 8 inches high and it would ignite anything of a tarlatan-type nature; that a chemist made an analysis of the powder (which came with the device) and he (witness) used powder of the same quality in making the tests. In the courtroom while he was a witness, he operated the device by following said directions and using powder that came with the device. In that test he held tarlatan, which was a part of Deanna’s dress, about 10 inches above the device, and the fire that came from [126 Cal.App.2d 642] the device hit the tarlatan and caused it to smolder or glow but it did not blaze. Appellants argue that the evidence regarding the tests should not have been received because the tests were not made under conditions that were substantially the same as the conditions under which the accident occurred. As to the tests made prior to the trial, there was no competent evidence that the powder used was the same quality as the powder which was received with the device, and the evidence regarding those tests should not have been received. As to the demonstration in the courtroom of the operation of the device, appellants argue that there was no evidence that the draft conditions there were the same as the draft conditions on the stage at the school when the accident occurred. The reception or rejection of evidence, belonging to the class of evidence designated as experiments, “lies largely within the discretion of the trial court, with this limitation–that it must be shown that substantially the same conditions existed [at the time of the experiment as existed at the time of the original occurrence], and further that the evidence shall be of such a character as to aid rather than to confuse the minds of the jurors with collateral matters.” (People v. Ely, 203 Cal. 628, 632-633 [265 P. 818].) The trial court did not err in permitting a demonstration of the operation of the device to be made in the courtroom.

[5] Appellants also contend that the amount of damages awarded was excessive. The judgment was for $52,528.24, being $7,528.24 for special damages, and $45,000 for general damages. The minor plaintiff received first, second, and third degree burns which covered more than 40 per cent of her body. She was in hospitals about seven and one-half months, and in bed at home several months. There were several skin-grafting operations and during those operations she was under a general anesthetic. There were many blood transfusions. Many scars are on her body. The bills for hospital and medical services amounted to $7,028.24, and there was evidence that bills for further treatments would amount to $500. This contention is not sustainable.

The judgment is affirmed. The appeal from the order denying the motion to enter a different judgment is dismissed.

($25,528.54 in 1954 dollars is equal to $448,106.89 in 2012 dollars.)

Take a Bow, Abbott;s 1966

From The Colon Express, August 17, 1966: “Abbott’s Magic Get-Together, the magicians’ Mecca, has convened as is its custom every third week in August. Colon, the Magic Capitol of the World, is pleased as punch and very proud to host our annual visitors.

Percy Abbott evolved the idea of his magic factory in 1933 and ’34. he’d followed his famous father, Henry Abbott, into the show-business world of the magician and traveled all over the world as an entertainer. After he’s married and begun to raise a family, he felt the need to settle permanently, and the production of equipment for magicians gave him the reason to do so.

Colon was fortunate to have been the summer quarters of Harry Blackstone’s troupe. Harry invited Percy here for a vacation, Percy fell in love with a local girl, married, and consequently settled down. So we have the magic factory.

Abbott’s Magic Co. began as a one-man business in a rented room over a grocery store. It grew so fast that Percy needed a partner and a building. Recil Bordner joined forces with him, and they moved into a one-time carriage factory which they painted black and decorated with the white dancing skeletons. In 1938 the old building burned to the ground, so they built a cement block structure on the site and bought some more black paint and drew more skeletons.

In 1948 Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy made a surprise appearance at the Get-Together. One year a real wedding was performed on stage at the Get-Together. When the factory itself became too small to stage the Get-Togethers, they were held in a tent, or out of town. When the new Colon High School in 1961 the Get-Together public shows had found a new home.

Colon has proved to be a good buffer for the inventors of magic paraphernalia. We’re small and so don’t draw so many outside visitors to the factory that work is disrupted, and big enough to supply the business with employees. We’re blasé enough, by now, to take in our stride the assembling of an illusion on the street when it can’t be contained in the building, and yet we’re eager to help make the Get-Together successful.

Abbott’s manufactures some 1,500 items for magicians. It has sheet metal, woodworking, tool and die, metal casting, blacksmith and machine shops and sewing, assembling, chemical, and paint departments. It also has its own print shop for publishing its monthly magic magazine, TOPS, which is strictly for the magician and is sent to magician-subscribers all over the world. The print shop also prints the directions and labels and patter for the company’s products, and the catalog listing the items for sale. There’s an ample showroom with a stage for demonstrating tricks to prospective customers and TOPS editor Neil Foster doubles as chief demonstrator. Small wonder Neil’s one of the best in the business, practicing before his brother magicians all the time!

To say we’re proud of Abbott’s, proud of being the Magic Capital, is an understatement of the first water. We’re “Colon, the Magic Capitol” all in one breath, a distinctive, inventive, humor-loving society of individuals who prefer it all just the way it is. “Happy Anniversary, Recil”

 

Recil Bordner is president and owner. His employees, listed in alphabetical order are:

Glenn Babbs ………………………….Woodworking Dept.

Archie Capman Jr……………………..………..Metal Dept.

Jerry Conklin ……………………….Shipping & Receiving

Eda Mae Cubbernuss …………………………….Secretary

Mary Decker………………………..Sewing & Assembling

Irene Elliott..………………………..Sewing & Assembling

Ray Fillmore…………………………………..Plastic Dept.

Jeanne Foster ………………………………….…..Account

Neil Foster ………………………Editor of TOPS Magazine

Walter Jacob……………………………..……..Metal Dept.

Caroline Merrill…………………………….…Flower Dept.

Fred Merrill………………………………….…..Paint Dept

Gordon Miller…………………….…Shipping & Receiving

Everett Myers………………………….Woodworking Dept.

Ken Murray ……………………………….TOPS Magazine

Dorotha Osborn…………………..…Sewing & Assembling

Marian Pilipick………………………………..…..Secretary

Walter Schroeder………………………………….…Printer

Duke Stern…………………………………..Sales Manager

Bud West………………………………Woodworking Dept.

 

Percy Abbott (1886 – 1960) has become an iconic figure in the world of magic. He is most famous for building a world renown magic manufacturing company from the ground up – Abbott’s Magic Co. The first Abbott’s Magic Get Together was Saturday, Sept. 15, 1934 and was attended by 80 magicians. Percy Abbot appeared at the Get-Together in
1934,1935,1936,1937,1938,1940,1941,1942,1943,1946,1952, and 1955.

 

 

Abbott Magic Co. by Monk Watson

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.