Advertisements
Tag Archives: youth

A Tale of My Father: The (Almost) Burning Man

26 Mar

March 26, 2018

My father was a man who had quite a lot of stories, and I can vouch that they were true. Stuck in a rioting hoard of women on Black Friday, calling Macy’s to complain about their Santa at the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or refusing to take off in a small plane from the shortest runway of an airport high on cliff, he had some interesting things to talk about. 

This one is short, and though it happened long before I was born, it could have had a dramatic impact on my life.

When he was younger, my Dad-to-be and some of his friends took a road trip. The details of when and where aren’t important and I’ve long forgotten them if I even ever knew them. I want to say they were teenagers but knowing Dad and some of his friends, they were probably in their twenties but acting like teenagers. 

So they were driving and it was getting late and they stopped for gas. One guy got out and was pumping while Dad and the others took the opportunity to stretch their legs. Well, they guy pumping the gas thought it would be a hysterically funny joke to turn the nozzle on Dad and soak him with gasoline. And another friend thought it would be even more hysterically funny to chase Dad around the car with a lit cigarette lighter. 

You can see where this is going.

Almost, almost!

Natural selection nearly took a hard left turn that night but either Dad was a faster runner back then, or his cries of “what the FUCK are you doing?” got through this friend’s thick skull and Dad escaped immolation and lived to laugh about it later.

It’s a wonder I’m here to write about this.

.

 

Advertisements

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. 

.

%d bloggers like this: