For the past 75 years on a few days around the first of August, a bucolic village in southwest Michigan holds a magic celebration. It is sponsored by the Abbott Magic Company and the town in Colon, Michigan. Almost all magicians know about Abbotts. Colon was the summer home of Harry Blackstone Sr. and he went into business with Australian immigrant Percy Abbott and created a company to produce magic and illusions. Harry and Percy dissolved their partnership in a low-key personality clash and the business was not enough for Harry to quit touring.
Recil Bordner bought into Percy’s operation and after Percy died in 1960, the Bordner Family became the sole owners. Recil’s son, Greg, is the owner today. Abbotts always was a small family business that employed a number of people in Colon. In the early 50s one of their flash pots was improperly used at a dance recital and a young girl was burned. They were almost sued into bankruptcy. They have had fires and thin times and a few good years. Greg is living with a transplanted heart and may beat the disease that killed his father. Greg’s brother is a Geology Professor at a university in nearby Kalamazoo.
This year there were about 300 that attended the event. They have had triple that in the past. But it is always like a family reunion. My first Get Together was in 1969 and I met up with a yet-to-be famous Doug Henning and talked with Jack Gwynne. I sat next to Jay and Francis Marshall on the Friday Night Show. I again visited in 1989.I sat next to Paul Daniels and Debbie MacGee and had a long chat with Harry Blackstone Jr.
Colon is a town were time almost stands still but changes I saw in the town were a metaphor of the industrial decline of our country and the changing form of show business. Abbotts is an American Classic and I was happy that Dan Stapleton, my long time Orlando friend, was able to perform in the show and do his fabulous blindfold stunt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8tiAMDvW5E
I hope that future generations of magicians will have an Abbotts catalog and Get Together. It always was the stuff of dreams.