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Tag Archives: childhood

Willie The Ice Cream Man

19 Mar

March 19, 2018

I was going through my last few remaining comics. I once had 32 short boxes full of comics. Each box holds around 200 issues, more or less, so that’s 6,400 comics. But I had many loose ones in stacks on shelves, probably at least three more boxes full, so that’s around 7,000 comics. Over the last few years I sold or gave away nearly all of them. I have just about 65 comics left. Yes, I downsized 6,935 comics.  So those 65 comics amount to around .0085% of what I used to have. But each one has a meaning or a sentimental value. I kept them not because they are valuable (a couple are, most are not) but because they all have a story, not between the covers, but behind them.

To drive home the point, where I once had hundreds and hundreds of Batman comics I now own exactly 5.

These are my two favorites.

Detective Comics 406 and 409, published in 1970 and 1971. In the condition in which I own them they are worth around $15 – $20 each.

But they only cost me 25 cents each, and that’s the background of this story.

It was around 1980, maybe as early as 1978, maybe as late as 1983, but I date it to 1980 because I distinctly remember riding my bike up and down the street pretending it could fly like the motorcycles on Galactica 1980

It was summer, of course. There was no better time to be a kid than in the summer. We had an ice cream man who came every summer day in the afternoon, and when school started he came around a little later after we were home. His name was Willie and we all knew him because we were kids and what kid doesn’t love ice cream? He peddled around the neighborhood on an old fashioned ice cream cart, basically a bicycle with a freezer in the front.

He’d jingle the bells on the handlebars and we’d hear him coming down the block. Since I and my brother lived in an apartment building (we were city boys) we didn’t have time to run all the way upstairs to get money. We’d just yell for our mother to come to the window. “MOM! MOOOOOM!” Half the mothers in the building would look out the window to see if it was their kid yelling. But our mother would come to the window and we’d yell “the ice cream man is coming!” and she’d put some money in a can or a box and she’d toss it out the fifth floor window to us. We never caught it though. We’d always have to crash through the bushes in the front of our building to retrieve it. 

So now we’d yell “Willie! Ice cream! Over here!” and he’d peddle over to us, jingling all the way, to borrow a phrase. But this is the best part. Not only would we get ice cream, we’d get comic books too. Willie had a box somehow lashed to the back of his bike with old comic books. They were old even then, and he sold them for a quarter apiece. 

Was there ever a better summer day? Playing outside, riding bikes, eating ice cream, reading comic books. This is what a kid’s life should be.

So when it came time for me to pare down my comic collection the two Batman issues had to stay. Sure the covers are great, and yes, I like the stories, but I had gotten rid of issues with better covers and better stories. But none of them had a story that I was part of, that reminded me of the days of my youth. There are very few comics that I distinctly remember buying and reading when I was a kid, and not many that put a smile on my face, so these two issues are keepers.

(The Incredible Hulk 216, which I bought new from the corner candy store is another, and yes, I still have that one too.)

 

 

And by the way, here are the flying motorcycles I used to pretend I was riding. 

 

Before I go, one quick ice cream man story. One day Willie was not there, and someone else was driving the cart. He was coming down the block, ringing his bell. We started calling out “ice cream man! Ice cream man!” and waving to him.

He looked at us and, with a big smile, waved back. And kept on going.

We didn’t get ice cream that day. 

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Night Terrors 1979

6 Sep

September 6, 2016

I’m into things like ghosts and UFO’s (which is why I’m so hard on George Noory) and I just finished reading The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects from 1956 by Edward J. Ruppelt. He’s one of the original Project Blue Book leaders.

Project Blue Book was one of the Air Force’s attempts to investigate the UFO phenomena. It’s an interesting read, though you won’t learn much other than the Air Force in the 1950’s was as full of red tape as it is now.

But it reminded me that there was a TV show based on this called Project U.F.O. and it scared the heck out of me when I was a kid.

project ufo

From the internet:

Project U.F.O. is an American anthology television series which ran on NBC from 1978 to 1979. Running for two seasons of 13 episodes each, the show was based loosely on the real-life Project Blue Book. The show was created by Jack Webb, who pored through Air Force files looking for episode ideas.

The show features two U.S. Air Force investigators charged with investigating UFO sightings.

In an odd reversal of the Scooby-Doo dynamic, the series eventually settled into a pattern in which the investigators would spend most of the hour uncovering some conventional explanation for a UFO sighting, only for the last five minutes to reveal that UFOs (or some similarly unexplained phenomena) were involved after all.

I went to Youtube and found the specific episode that terrified young me, The Believe It or Not Incident. I saw the thumbnail and like a flash, I suddenly knew that it was the one episode that gripped me back then. It was so clear. This show has not aired in the United States since its original airing so this was the first time I saw it since 1979. I have not thought about this show in literally over 30 years, at least. Not since the last century!

Well, I can’t say it opened up a floodgate of memories, but it did bring back a couple. What scared me so much were scenes of a giant alien ship replaying images of people and events as it hovered over a man in the desert. These were scenes the aliens inside had no earthly way of seeing. (It’s around the 19 minute mark in the video at the end of this post.)

project ufo ship

For years that part stuck in my head, gave me nightmares and kept me up at night. I’d nervously look up into the sky when I was outdoors, and I live in crowded NYC. The other part that spooked me was at the end of the episode, when the house shakes as the giant ship passes overhead.

Nowadays I’m not sure anyone but me would be creeped out by it, and had this not been the stuff of childhood nightmares I, seeing this for the first time now, would be bored. But little 1979 me was spooked badly. For a long time that UFO replay was the cause of that tingle at the back of my neck.

Much like my last post about the audio tapes, I was again brought back to a moment in my childhood when all it took to scare me were cheesy special effects and my imagination.

 

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