From an article contained in the records of the Colon Community Historical Society Museum; written by Percy Abbott in 1957: “There have been many stories from various walks of life on “starting from scratch” and “building a successful business.” This is my own personal and intimate story in that respect and I trust that you will find in it, not only a general interest, but the knowledge that there are always the heights to climb.
There are many times in life when through what we accept as an unfortunate occurrence, if rightfully used, can become our greatest asset. I believe this to be true with most misfortunes of life, if we but knew how to make use of them. They are a prod to greater achievements.
This occurrence in my life was not misfortune, merely a change in my way of life, but one that required adjustment. I had been in show business for many years, had traveled over much of the world’s surface, seeking, not alone business and money, but adventure and knowledge as well. Then suddenly, my life changed and another person became important in my scheme of things. In a small village in Michigan where I had gone for a lazy carefree fishing trip, I met the lady who was to be the future Mrs. Abbott. We were married two years later, but already I was enjoying, for the first time in my life, the lazy luxury of a small town. After our marriage, for a period of nearly five years, we were quite content to work a few shows (she became part of the act), in not too distant pastures and to return again to the “home town”. Money was not an easy commodity to obtain – these were the depression years – but we were happy and healthy and there were few requirements. Then, I learned that I was to become a father! Needless to say, this was a responsibility that would require more effort, time and money, so what was “papa” to do.
Show business was all I had ever really known and I was convinced that I did not want to attempt the difficult task of raising a child while trouping. Neither did I wish to leave what was now my world to travel around alone, missing much of the companionship which I had enjoyed.
It has always been my habit, when required to do any deep thinking, to play around with ideas in Magic. For me, this has been a beneficial way of clearing my mind. So, having something to think through, I went alone to our bedroom and there proceeded to look over an accumulation of odds and ends – bits of string, rope, playing cards, thimbles, and safety pins – all those little gadgets with which all Magicians are familiar. Suddenly an idea struck! I saw the idea for a new trick – in fact, a new principle in Magic. Hurriedly I set about constructing “the thing”. It soon emerged in a very crude state. Now, to try it out. My good wife was, of course, the chosen victim for this ordeal. If I could fool her, I really had a good trick. I located her in the kitchen, preparing a meal, and I am certain that when I suggested she cease her labors “to look at a trick”, she could have gleefully thrown straight at me the skillet which she was holding. However, being a fairly amicable individual, she stopped and watched the “miracle”. AND SHE WAS FOOLED! My conversation went something like this, “We’re going to start a Magic business, manufacturing tricks, and THIS is the first one”. The trick was named “Squash”. It consisted of the instantaneous disappearance of a glass of liquid. Many people have asked me, why the name “Squash”? the naming of the effect was a snap decision, as have been all my decisions through the years, in this crazy business. The name had sprung up from the recesses of my mind – a hangover from my childhood, for in my native country of Australia, I had had many times as a child partaken of a soft drink known as “Squash”.
Thus, a business was born. Our bank account was well under a hundred dollars and I could see many future bills looming, but in small quantities we purchase the needed articles to produce the little trick. Another and another trick was added from my mental storehouse. (Now I knew the reason for the many years of traveling the world, of seeing Magic in India, China, of going into out-of-the-way places to see Magic never seen by white men before.) This coupled with the kindness of other people made it possible for us to hold on until the business started to build up. In passing, I want especially here to mention the kindness of a good friend, one I had met and known in many countries throughout the world, a great Magician and a great man. Will Nicola. It was to Will I wrote for a small loan to tide me over a short period. Needless to say, my request was immediately granted. His loan gave me not only money, but courage and faith as well.
The business had been started only a short time when a young man, interested in this strange thing called Magic, came to me and asked to toss in his lot with mine to further the interests of this new venture. Thus, the partnership between Recil Bordner and myself got its start, and together, without ever an argument or a critical word, we have operated this unique factory for twenty-three years. His patience and ability have been a great balance wheel for my rather stormy and rapid-fire nature.”
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HISTORY OF GET-TOGETHER
In another portion of this program you have read about the starting of this unique business. It all happened in the year 1934. Originally the business was conducted in upstairs quarters, rented at a very nominal fee. After Recil Bordner joined forces and expansion was the aim, we began looking around hopefully for more space. Within a very short time a building of sorts was available. It was a building in which had been housed for many years, a Buggy factory. The “buggy” referred to here is the horse-drawn vehicle of the B. A. (Before Automobiles) era. In fact, when we took over the building there still remained, wrapped and stored up against the uppermost rafters, a fancy “cutter”, the winter substitute for the buggy. The renovating and moving to this building, an operation which took a great deal of OUR labor and efforts, was accomplished during the early summer months.
Already, news of this new venture had reached the ears of the initiated and we were beginning to see the arrival of many interested Magicians.
Because we were proud of our accomplishment and our expansion we wanted to celebrate, so it was decided to invite a number, those followers of the Art, to view our handiwork. The week of Labor Day was chosen for the occasion and that first year the great number of approximately fifty persons arrived. Shows were planned for their entertainment. Gayety, laughter, comradeship and enthusiasm were the order of the day.
That initial affair was such a happy success from the viewpoint of the guests as well as the hosts that, on the spur of the moment, a suggestion was voiced, “Let’s make this a yearly affair.” So came the Get-Together.
Like a tiny child, nurtured by happy associations, memories, the bond of true brotherhood, it grew and grew and grew, until in recent years, despite constant improvements, changes, etc., it was impossible to contain itself in the cramped environment of a small town. Housing facilities, eating problems became acute, and thus it has moved on seeking the most desirable atmosphere. It shall always seek for its guests the most that can be offered.
Throughout the many years of it existence THE GET-TOGETHER has remained nonpolitical, non-partisan, and very much non-conformist. There are no barriers erected here. All are welcome – the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the black and white, dwellers all, for a short time each year in the sharing of secrets, friendships and memories.
Both Recil and myself have established homes in this community. (Recil has two boys and I have two boys and two girls.) We have been able to provide a good living for our families, but most of all we have found delight and happiness in the thing we were doing and we have, I believe, given much to Magic and its followers throughout the world.”