Monk Watson Remembers His Home In Colon
From The “TOPS” Magazine, December 1962. By Monk Watson: “It was grand to see Dai Vernon in action again, and he and I went over old times again. John Braun and I hashed it up as usual. What a thrill I had when I visited them in the old Watson home here in Colon.
I hadn’t been in the house for many, many years and I just sat there at the breakfast table and dreamed of the days when I used to climb the stairs to my bedroom and listen to my grandfather and some of his friends talk about lawsuits that he was working on. They had a language all their own. “I sez, sez I” and “sez he to me sez he”. Then they bring up some big words that I still don’t understand.
Grandfather never went to school but studied law like Lincoln, and he’d fight some of his cases for a bag of corn or things for the table. I have some of his diaries and looking through them I wonder how he ever paid for his home and brought up his large family. He was the man who saw to it that little Donald did his show in the church. He was pretty proud of me. All these things went through my mind as I sat in this old house with John and his guests.
I looked back on the day when my grandmother would stand on a six-inch platform so she could reach over the top of the old-fashioned cook stove and cook all the eggs we could eat on a Thanksgiving morning. I remember I had fourteen one morning, (I was just a hog) but it was fun trying to win a prize. Then we’d all go into the front room and gather around the organ and sing, and I’d do a trick like throwing a hand full of lycopdium (with a small colored hank palmed) into the flame of a candle. The flash would be big and then floating out of the flame would come the hank. The local druggist (Charles Niendorf) would give me a bottle of this every time I did a show … might give you fellows a thought … because it is still used I understand.
I might say that I only did a show about twice a year for the church or school. I remember going down in the cellar where apples were stored away, wrapped in paper, for the winter. How I got started on such a subject I’ll never know, unless I was just day dreaming about the fun we had.
Those were the days long before radio. I don’t believe we had more than ten telephones in town, and my grandfather had one. He used to tell me about the day when we’d see the person we would be talking to on the other end of the phone, no wires. When I see some of the television shows I think back on those days and remember what he said. Maybe that is the magic I wanted in this story. The magic of bringing water up on a chain open well … the bees in the back yard that would sting me, but he could walk into the bee house and have them hanging down off his whiskers and never get stung.
The magic of my standing in the door, where the hay was unloaded in the loft, and then sliding down the chute where the horses were fed and yelling, “Here I am”! Sounds like the girl running down the theatre isle doesn’t it? Maybe that was my idea at that. The magic of standing on the rafters and jumping out twenty feet and turning a flip into the hay wagon on the floor below. John, that is what I was thinking about that morning, and perhaps the reason why I didn’t eat. Funny what a little thrill can do for a guy, isn’t it.”
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.