Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Down Memory Lane

I belong to a listserver, that is a dedicated message group, this one dedicated to the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the guy who wrote Tarzan, along with about fifty other novels. Anyway, the subject was what was one your bookshelf as a kid. Boy, that sent me back.
I grew up very poor. We had no phone, no running water, no car. Well, my Dad had a car, but he was never home. He wasn't one to be tied down, so he went up to Connecticut where he could make more money to send us. Well, his donations got smaller and smaller and his letters fewer and fewer, along with his visits. If Mom guessed the truth, she never talked about it, but I found out later that he wasn't faithful, not by a long shot. They're both gone now, so its over with. It made me determined, though, to make sure my daughter has a full time father and never lacks for anything.
Anyway, back to the growing up part. Mom always read to me, both Little Golden Books and comics. The Little Golden Books were in a bookshelf along with her Zane Gray and Emily Loring hardcovers and her treasured copy of Gone With the Wind. It was her favorite movie and she went to see if five times. When it came back in the 70's, I had a car and I made sure she saw it a sixth time. When I saw it, I loved it and I have her copy of the book and her copy of Scarlett that I gave her when it came out along with the big color book on the movie that I gave her one year. As Mom fell for the handsome Rhett, I guess I fell for the beautiful, though scheming, Scarlett O'hara.
Anyway, as I grew up, the bookcase evolved. The comics always ended up in a box and I ruined a lot of collectible comics over the years, including Avengers number one, probably worth over 10 grand now. Who knew? My grandfather would go over to Benny Wells' auction in Delmar and get me a whole box of comics for a dime. In those days, the price of one comic had just changed from 10 to 12 cents, so a whole box was a bargain. They were a mixed bag, Classic Comics, Marvel Comics, Dell Comics and Charlton Comics. I read about the 3 Musketeers, Tarzan, Gorgo, Magnus, and whole bunch more. If Mom went to the Ben Franklin store in Princess Anne, I ended up with Dell, later Gold Key Walt Disney comics along with some movie tie ins, usually of Walt Disney movies, though I did get the Lost World.
So anyway, my second grade teacher figured I was a bright kid, so she loaded me up with books to read and I read all summer. The next year, instead of 3rd grade, I was suprised to find that they had skipped me up to 4th grade. The reading paid off. That same year I was diagnosed with asthma and it curtailed a lot of physical activity, so I spent a lot of time indoors during allergy seasons reading. By the time I got to high school (In those days there was just one high school (well one for white folks and one for black) with all six grades, I was reading just fine and that summer I got my first adult book to read, the War of the Worlds. For better or for worse, I was hooked on reading and the Little Golden Books ended up in a box so that I could start loading up on novels. In the 8th grade I would snag as many science fiction books as Mom would let me. After all, with our budget, two bucks was a make or break amount.
War of the Worlds was followed by the Invaders, Land of the Giants, the Mask of Fu Manchu, Flying Saucers --Here and Now, and Eight Tales of Terror by Edgar Allen Poe. Land of the Giants and Eight Tales of Terror are now gone, but my copies of the rest are still with me and within the last three years I reread the Invaders and Mask of Fu Manchu.
Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden and Barack Obama trade words. The stock market plunges. Russia and Ukraine battle over oil and Governor O'Malley wants to lay off some of my fellow workers (EEEK, could it be me?). We are swamped as it is. If he wants to make us more swamped, that's up to him. Your Humble Scribe will find a way to survive. I have to. Retirement is still over 7 years away.

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