Following Blackstone by Monk Watson

Following Blackstone

 

From TOPS Magazine, October, 1961, by Monk Watson: “This should not be hard to write because it is pretty close to my heart, and also close to the hearts of many who were lucky enough to

see Blackstone at our Get-Together.

There are some few things I would like to clear up for our younger generation at this time. Perhaps some were a little disappointed with Blackstone’s performance on one of those nights. This would have been on Thursday night.  I anyone of our Magicians had followed Blackstone that day, I’m sure he would have stayed in bed for days to come. Let me outline the activities for that day. First, he had to come over from Battle Creek, where he was staying to keep a date with a writer and photographer sent in to cover the story for The Saturday Evening Post. The photographer had spent the day before cleaning out the stage, footlights, brass railings, and seats in the old Opera House so he could pl

ace Blackstone on the stage where so many of his tours started. Blackstone appeared on the scene at a very early hour, and for the next ten hours he was standing, setting, standing, leaning, in every pose known to for writers and photographers for Seven Hundred pictures.

Late in the afternoon he had to change into dry clothing for the night show. He was tired just as anyone of us would have been. He was pent up with emotion at the thought of coming home to Colon to friend of years gone by. Friends who knew him when. When he was the GREATEST Magician in the World, showing to packed houses across the country, in a Full evening show, with big, big, big, illusions that filled several baggage cars. A stage full of people (who knew their work, without a miss) to do some simple little tricks in front of the front curtain wh

ile the stage was being set for the next big act.

These little fillers,

or small tricks, were what we saw at the Get-Together. However, lets not sell the Bird Cage, Danci

ng Handkerchief, and Floating Light bulb, short.  In the hands of so many these would look like just another little trick. But in the hands of Blackstone (with the Professional Touch) they were Masterpieces long to be remembered. So, on the first night he faltered a bit, broke the light bulb, covered it up with a grin saying, “Accidents will happen.” Walking across the stage with his head held high as if nothing had happened. Then the rope tie with the laughs, and don’t tell me he didn’t get them … the Ace of Spades routine … boring to some, but as a breather to others, who would like to do it so well.

Now comes Friday, the second day of our Get-Together,

and again we find another photographer wanting hundreds of pictures for another magazine (Show Business Illustrated … by Playboy), of Blackstone in the Opera House, local papers from nearby towns wanting to get in for some shots. That is when Watson stepped into the picture, both literally and otherwise. I did have a couple of shots made with me and my pal for my Grandchildren to gloat over in years to come, “Granddaddy knew Blackstone!”  I put the boom down around noon and said, “Harry, lets go and get some coffee.” He was thrilled to get away from it all. So, for the next few minutes I drove him around the little town he loved so much and then home to my little kitchen, where we visited about Showmanship for an hour. All of this time I had my hard shelled Portable tape recorder, that had seen action on the front line, taking down notes for me to use at a later date. With his tails hanging on a hanger in my car I drove him to the High School where I had placed my cot in his dressing room. Not long he was off on another cloud dreaming, perhaps of years of his Big Show, but resting for the first time in days

.

That night he did a grand show, with the old spark coming through for all to see and light their own light with. His smile, his bows (never bending, but with head held high) saying without words, “There you have had what I have to sell! Like it?” They loved it to the point of tears, laughs, and most of all, STANDING OVATIONS. So for you youngsters, you’ll brag one day about even seeing the Great Blackstone in action. When you see some fellows who so much as use “The World’s Greatest Magician” you’ll see how they suffer by comparison. So much for Blackstone, may he live on and on in our hearts forever. PS: I saw some great comics crying like babies, showing their big hearts, thinking, “Wish I had it like that.”

Monk Watson and Harry Blackstone at the Hill Opera House in Colon

Modesty almost got in my way here, but I brushed it aside and with a capital “I”, I want to say a few thousand words about the “Night Before Party Show.” From others I quote, “Other such shows have been full of sick comedy, cluttered up stages full of nonsense, but this was a real great show!”  Men who had been to most of the Night Before Parties across the nation. Made me feel real good because that was the way I wanted it. With Neil Foster and Monk Watson heading the bill, Jimmy Shannon stopping the show, the German Band opening, The Whistlers getting belly laughs, Jack Ricketts (Laughing like Watson) Gordon Miller (Abbott Company), HOW COULD IT FAIL?”