1927 The Family Arrives (by Percy Abbott)

In some strange way I must have sensed that I would not be returning to Fairmont, for when I made this trip I took with me all my belongings. Perhaps the spirit was becoming restless again – who knows! Here, at the convention in 1927 I renewed my acquaintance with Harry Blackstone. In conversation he described to me his beautifully located home in a little town in Michigan, Colon Michigan, and subsequently invited me to accompany him home for a visit. This simple gesture that would well nigh fill the rest of my life. I was to become a citizen of the United States and as of now, a long time resident of this little Michigan town. Here too, romance was to make its appearance in my life. I had been in Colon only a few short days when I met Gladys Goodrich, a native Colonite who was, at that time, home for summer from college. We took drives together, we went swimming and fishing on the beautiful lakes that are the pride of the little village and very soon I realized that there had been something lacking in my lonely existence and here I might dream of companionship.

Gladys and I, at this writing, have been happily married for a period of thirty years. Here in Colon I established a secure business, here we had four children, Jules, Sydney, Marilyn, and Linda. We now add, with much pride, three beautiful grandchildren, Robin, the lovely daughter of Marilyn, and Jayne and Julie (newest member), children of Jules. Son Sydney is in the service and stationed in Germany and Linda is still at home with us. Another entire volume could easily be written around these last few lines and sincerely I hope sometime soon to write that volume.

Now, to go back to this year 1927. There was a business established and arranged, at this time, between Mr. Blackstone and myself. However, I prefer to skip over this particular era because it holds unpleasant memories which are not good for me nor would they be good for the reader. Suffice it to say that Mr. Blackstone has been a great figure on the American stage in this world of Magic. He has been an able and outstanding magician, but few people are blessed with a talented ability and good business ability in the commercial world and this lack on the part of this great performer made it impossible to adequately carry through a successful commercial business. It culminated after a period of less than two years.

In the spring of 1929 I was approached by Jean Hugard — a beloved remembered figure in Magic, to work for him on a show in Luna Park, Coney Island, New York. Jean had successfully operated a show there for a number of years but here again there was failure. This, however, was not due to personalities, although I honestly have to admit that we clashed on various phases of the work, but primarily this failure was due to the fact that it was 1929, the year of the BIG failures. The show was good but people had no money to spend and so. long before the season was finished we had to say goodbye to Coney Island, had to even trade an illusion for a set of tires so that we could return to Michigan, Here I want, too, for personal reasons, to mention two very charming Indian boys who worked on that show with us and whom we came to know and to love. They were Prince Singh and Harry Boudon Singh. They will always be remembered.

Gladys and I were married during this terrible year of depression but both quite willing to face together conditions as we found them. We started out once again on a tour of playing schools and auditoriums. Our first trek was in Iowa. Followed some five years of school shows (we took turns booking the dates), of theatre shows and even two summer seasons with a carnival. These were lean years for many but they hold many happy memories too. Then, in 1934, our first child Jules was born. I had personally always been opposed to trying to bring up children “en route,” so I decided “come what may,” I would settle down and it was then that was established THE ABBOTT MAGIC CO., a company that has grown through the years, a factory, unique in that it is the only one of its kind in the world, a factory that has been publicized in many magazines and through many mediums, a factory that inaugurated in its early days the affairs that were to become famous in the annals of Magic — THE ABBOTT MAGIC GET-TOGETHERS. It is the detail involved in this more than a quarter of a century that I shall prepare another book.

For these last few minutes I must, of necessity, go back to those very, veiy early memories. This to register the point in question that I WAS born. Frankly, these memories are vague and covered with a mist of many years. They are, most of them, memories which I have desired to erase, for unlike many, there was very little of happiness and laughter in those years. Tragedy struck when I was very young. Briefly, my mother died, quite suddenly, and of a disease unknown to me and my father passed away of a heart attack within six months. These things occurred when I was barely eight years of age. There were five boys and the responsibility rested on the shoulders of an aunt. Due to the fact that I have had a family of my own, I have tried to understand her extreme discipline and severe methods with us, as boys. We were ruled with an iron rod or ought I to say, the proverbial “birch rod.” She was a woman, very sanctimonious and self-righteous. Our freedoms were totally limited.
Finances were undoubtedly a “big” problem in her life and as there were no laws governing education in Australia at that time, I was taken from school at a young age in order to work and in turn to pay my “board and keep.” Fortunately I was ambitious and my jobs were many and varied in those years. I was allowed a very small pittance for my personal needs so as my power and ability to earn became stronger and stronger, I planned for the day when I could leave my aunt’s stronghold. Eventually this occurred when I was fourteen. By that time I felt secure enough that I made my exit in the one way I believed to be correct. As I paid my aunt her money for a week that had passed, I shoved into her hand the money for the week ahead, grabbed my few belongings and “ran.” I was, to a great degree, from this moment on, separated from the brothers that had shared my earlier life. Although we met occasionally, the bond of closeness had been broken. The aunt lived to a ripe old age but I never talked with her again. Back and beyond these memories is just a very short span of scattered thoughts, a few memories of a beautiful estate outside the city of Sydney, an estate that consisted of a large home and many horse barns, for my father had raised horses and it was in this type of environment that I first saw the light of day on May 3, 1886. All this was swept away, swiftly and suddenly. So, here, after a Life time in Magic, I gratefully thank this great interest that entered my life, for through Magic my life expanded and through it I lost much of the despair and hopelessness which the early years brought. Magic, for me, has been a great healer and to it I owe much.

I realize that I have left out many, many incidences and I have said little about the years of the ABBOTT MAGIC CO., but if life and time permit I shall record these.

It has been my experience in show business that it is good to “quit,” leaving your “audience” wanting more. I sincerely trust I have done just this.

Author: Abbotts Magic Company

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