1926 Colon’s Romance With Magic Begins (Patrick West)

Harry Blackstone was one of the more prominent stage magicians of the 1920’s and 30’s. Harry Bouton (Blackstone was his stage name) was born in Chicago, the son of a hat maker. He and his brother Peter began their stage careers doing comedy magic. Gradually, the art evolved into a full evening show of illusions with Harry doing the performing and Peter working behind the scenes building the illusions. Blackstone’s show grew in size and by 1927 a crew of a dozen people worked and traveled with Blackstone.

During the off-seasons of the early 20’s, Blackstone and his troop traveled to West Lake near Kalamazoo to refit old equipment, build new effects, and relax. The company grew too large for the accommodations at West Lake and Blackstone looked elsewhere for a summer place. In the summer of 1926, his wife, Inez, drove her car south (by chance) from Kalamazoo through Leonidas and into Colon. At the western edge of the village she noticed Angel Island in Sturgeon Lake. Upon investigation, she found that the island was for sale, and she placed a down payment on the property. Harry found that the island was ideally suited for his purposes. There was a frame house and a large barn where the stage equipment could be stored and many animals which were used in the show could be kept. The barn would also serve as a worship. There were several cottages which could be used to house the crew. Blackstone purchased the island that summer and from then until 1949 Blackstone called Colon his home. Blackstone moved to California (for health reasons) in 1949. However, he always claimed that he would rather live in Colon than anywhere else in the world.

Colon’s romance with magic began that summer of 1926. Blackstone gave many of the townspeople their first taste of magic at a local citizens’ club lawn party that first summer. The impression Blackstone made on the people that afternoon was very favorable. The local newspaper reported that his performance at the lawn party was the surprise of the afternoon and referred to him as the world’s greatest magician. The townspeople enjoyed having a celebrity in their midst.

Author: Abbotts Magic Company

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