Friday, June 15, 2012

Magic Hunting in Colon, MI

My roommate Kimmy considers herself an amateur ghost hunter. In fact, she is the mistress behind the blog American Haunts. She is also a fan of stage magic, most recently reinforced by reading the Dresden Files novels. (Which I have also been reading, and I really enjoy them. They remind me of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, only from a male perspective rather than female, which itself is pretty interesting.) Thus, for Kimmy's birthday this year, she and I together with my boyfriend Greg (also a fan of stage magic) descended upon the little towns of Marshall, MI and Colon, MI. 

We started our day in Marshall because it is right off I-94, roughly an hour from my apartment. Billboards along the way boast about Marshall's extensive historic downtown, and they are not joking. I was very impressed with not only the size of Marshall's downtown, but also how well preserved it is! This makes sense, though. Back before I-94 was built, the main thoroughfare between Detroit and Kalamazoo, the halfway point between Chicago and Detroit even today, was Michigan Ave, which happens to run straight through downtown Marshall, and a large number of other small towns that now find themselves Off the Beaten Path (aka I-94). (If you want to drive Michigan Ave/Old US12/the Red Arrow Highway from Detroit to Chicago, it is still possible, and I'll bet terribly interesting for local history buffs. I vow to do so myself one day.) 

Marshall is home to the American Museum of Magic, the largest of its kind in the U.S. (though the building is still rather small; just a warning so you don't get your hopes too high; this is not the Smithsonian). Unfortunately, though this was our main destination, we did not realize that the museum is closed on Mondays, unless you make an appointment. We snapped a few pictures and peered inside, but that is all we got to do. We learned later that the man who runs it is very friendly, and if we call ahead next time, he would be willing to open up the other part of the museum, which is mostly just archives (of interest to my compatriots) and located in another building. 

Located at 203 W. Michigan Ave is the Marshall Ghost Tours headquarters. If they aren't out on a tour, there is a horse and carriage parked out front, and for $1 you may feed the horse. (We did not feed the horse. Horses are evil.) The three of us booked a walking tour for that night; a private tour since we were the only ones attending. It would have been fantastic to do the carriage tour, but none of us had the extra $30 each to do so. Then, we set off south for Colon.

Colon, MI is well off the beaten track. You travel a few miles down I-69, then turn off onto many, many more miles of country roads. After the abrupt turn into town, you are greeted by a sign proclaiming "Welcome to Colon Magic Capital of the World." Just beyond that is the high school football field with their mascot painted on the side of a building, an angry rabbit in a top hat. They are - I'm not kidding you - the Magi. (How cool is that?)

I think it goes without saying that Colon is one tiny town. But it has its charm! The street signs have top hats on them, and lining the "downtown" are big pots shaped like top hats containing flowers and wires popping out shaped like bunny heads. There is also the Abbot Magic Company, where we stopped on our way out of town and met the son of the man who started it. He talked to us for a bit as we walked around and showed us three magic tricks. I figured out two of the tricks, but the third still eludes me. He invited us back to Colon for the 75th Get Together, what is essentially a magicians convention. (How cool is that?)

Anyway, our true goal in going to Colon was to visit the graves of Harry Blackstones Sr and Jr, as well as a number of other magicians who are buried in Lakeside Cemetery. (Here is the full list.

It is a beautiful cemetery. It is not shaded, and I did get a sunburn as we wandered that is still bugging me today, but the graves are marvelous. We saw a number of headstones beautifully carved to look like four foot high tree stumps. Word to the future adventurer, the magicians' graves are all up near the front. We wandered the entire cemetery before nearly giving up and finding that we'd driven right past them on our way in. 

Among the many pictures that Kimmy took of the graveyard, there was one that proved to contain something a mysterious. There is a big bright glare right in the middle of the photo, as if the light were reflecting off something, though we can't find anything in the picture that would cause it. I am sure Kimmy will post all about this on her blog, and probably post the picture there once we can get it properly cleaned up and zoomed in. 

I think this entry has gone on for long enough. I will post next week about the rest of our day ghost hunting in Marshall. 

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