I am so honored and pleased to be asked to write the intro for the new COMPENDIUM! Imagine being asked to do something about which I love, and have been in love with since I was 14. And now that I’m almost twenty (watch it Greg!) I find my love for ABBOTTS has not waned one bit in almost 55 years, and to write about the greatest convention in the world. When I was 14 I received my first Catalog, I still have it, the book looks worn and tattered,(watch it again Greg) but I still love it! I can still quote the entire price list! (And Michael keeps telling me I ‘m senile, NOT true! I forgot where I live but I still remember everything in that book. I bought everything I could. And dreamed of going to the Get-Together, but you see, I was already working night clubs on a regular basis and could not get to any conventions, in my entire life .Outside of Abbotts I have only attended about 5 conventions. I was asked so many times to perform, but when doing 2 or 3 shows a night, it was impossible. I hated those conventions, the phoniness, being unable to connect with the other pros etc. So I said the hell with them! UNTIL Abbotts! I was enroute to a gig and it was opening day that year, so I stopped by, for a one day registration. And the love affair began. I was floored by the little high school showroom and all the folks there, everone was openly kind and warm. I was hooked.
The show that night had me rolling, with Otto Westly’s great act and all the other great acts. I knew no one, only Harry Blackstone, because I had met him in New York. Before I left Colon that day, I felt I knew everyone there and they had been great to little me. I vowed to return when I could stay for the run. I was to return to Abbotts as a featured act in the late 80’s and returned 5 more times. The Get-together is like NO other convention! It takes place in a small Midwestern town outside of Battle Creek. I was astounded to see the Amish buggies on the streets, and magic being performed in the streets everywhere. All the eating places were full of magicians, doing magic for each other. I was used to being dressed and “on” all the time. But here every one was dressed in casual summer clothes.
I recognized some famous faces, and then I realized I knew quite a few of them from seeing them perform in magazines etc. And everyone was mingling together. After the evening shows everyone would gather at the American Legion for cocktails, I never remembered leaving, but knew I had a great time! The days were filled with Talent shows, lectures etc. I got to know Greg and Debbie very well, spent a lot of time in their home, as with Harry and Gay. Greg became a very close friend, he showed me everything there is about Abbotts. I saw the old catalog coming to life before my eyes, Greg took me to the workshop, I saw all the patterns for tricks and illusions, and could name every one. I grew to love Colon. Now they really have no elegant eating spots, but the food is always good, and you’ll see magic being done at the next table.(Do NOT miss the pancakes at the M and M diner!) I found I was stopping in Colon every chance I had to take Greg and Debbie to dinner or stop at Jerry Conklin’s (God Bless him) The great Neil Foster became a close friend, after I got to know him. Then there was my darling Merrelyn who grew up with Harry. Ah the stories I could tell! I was with Harry in New York when he was doing his show on Broadway, and all we did was talk about Colon! So, I did my route so I could always be in Colon for the Get-together. Greg always brought in the greatest acts in magic, even if he lost money; he wanted to be sure that the public would get the very best in the magic world. The high school auditorium, where the shows are held is always packed, so always book early. I’m glad to say I got Shimada for Greg as we were working together that season, and I got him hooked on Colon. The weather is usually wonderful, you can get to stay in people’s homes or motels in Coldwater or Sturgis. There are lakeside cabins for rent, and you can always grab a ride to the day’s activities. People sell magic out of their trucks, but if Greg catches you, he will beat you senseless. Just kidding, but even I wouldn’t try it. There is just too much magic all around you. He even has a dealer’s room, and magic is being demo’ed all day. And now, my great Pal, webmaster Chuck and Greg are planning for the first time a magic WALK of FAME to honor everyone who has done the get-together. I designed the logo, and will do everything I can to make this a tourist attraction! Just like in Hollywood. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the opening day party, and the last day party. Where everyone just lets their hair down and forgets to put on airs, it’s that kind of convention. The most unique in the world, not too much has changed in all the years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! There are very few cliques around. Abb Dickson one year had a Hawaiian party and invited every one! And everyone came. Colon was never the same. One year were had all the west coast magi there.
The Get-together is like a rough diamond. You have to experience it to know. I know this year will be great, and if you still don’t have your tickets, you’d better act fast, as they are always sold out. I’m not quite sure if I can make it as my problem with the after effects of a broken back will allow me to travel, But believe Me I will get a blow by blow from pals Richard Hughes, Artie Kidwell, Mark, Jim, Jeff, Steve and all the great guys on the backstage crew. If this will be your first time, be prepared for the greatest convention in the world. The Fabulous Abbott’s Get-together! (This was written with all the love and respect I can muster)