Tag Archives: comic books

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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My Facebook Finale

27 Sep

September 27, 2017

About a month ago I left Facebook.

It was getting annoying. There were constant fights and disagreements. And I don’t mean over politics. An argument started in a thread where one person said that he didn’t like an old movie from the 1950’s. I merely said that I thought it was OK but I expected more. That’s it. I was then challenged by a couple of college film students who said that I did not understand the differences between television and film, and did not understand the intent of the film, nor did I understand the art of filmmaking in general.

I remind you, this was my comment: “It was OK but I expected more.”
And this is the film: Our Miss Brooks

Would any of you get into a fight over this?

I believed, and rightly so, that there was no point in Hell in getting into a debate over a film as mediocre and forgettable as that, so I bowed out of the argument with what I thought was a classy and witty riposte: “Screw you, assholes.”

OK, I didn’t really say that, but I did abruptly leave the thread in the dust. Why bother? And that was only the last straw. In the days leading up to it, there were huge fights (which I tried- sometimes successfully- to stay out of) over things like comic books and people’s user names. It was all nonsense, all pointless.

But what really got me to leave was that I was stooping to their level. I’d leave snarky comments. I’d get drawn into the arguments. I realized I was as bad as everyone else who trolls online and decided to just stop. I did not make a single comment, or even like anything, for a month. I went on Facebook only briefly to check in on the one or two legitimately scholarly things I look at, and to see what my friends were up to, but I was off and on quickly.

However, you can’t eat just one potato chip, you can’t stop at one lick of a Tootsie Pop, and you can’t avoid clickbait forever. So I decided to go back online and see what happened.

What happened is that after a few days I decided to leave again.

Why? Because who expected to get into an argument over whether the Earth is flat on my first night back?

I tried. I really, really tried, but there were so many people saying so many stupid things it hurt. I don’t mean ignorant or misinformed things, I mean genuinely stupid things.

  • “The Earth ain’t round because I put a Pokémon toy on this baseball and it falls off.” And there was video to prove it.
  • “If I had a really really strong telescope I could see France from my house in Michigan so the Earth has to be flat.”
  • “If the Earth was round we could just walk around it all the way but no has CAUSE IT CAN’T BE DONE.”

And I took it seriously! I know some science. I was a science major back in the day. I debated it scientifically, explained gravity, described the difference between the Earth and a baseball (it’s a lot bigger and heavier) and just generally used a mix of common sense and science to point by point debate a whole bunch of people who are in imminent danger of sailing over the edge of their brain cell.

It didn’t go well. People who believe the Earth is flat tend not to appreciate the scientific method.

I also made an innocuous comment, intended as a mild joke, about a series of comic book covers someone posted.

How was I supposed to know the artist was following the thread?

For the record, yes, the later covers were more or less the same. (More skin less clothes, but the same focus on the face.) The artist was nice enough to not call me out, and seeing he was in the thread I complimented his art (he really is good.) But I never went back to that thread.

So that was my great non-Facebook experiment. I still believe the Earth is round so it must have been a success.

 

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