2017-04-19 / Editorials

Mike Reese

I was never a big fan of comic books, even though my growing-up years were right in the middle of the comic book’s heyday. Occasionally, I’d read one at Hatcher’s Drug Store while waiting on one of their barely half inch thick burgers. That’s not a criticism. The burgers were popular sellers for years. If you’ve ever had one, you know what I’m talking about.

But somehow Daddy thought I loved comic books, and he must have thought, too, that they’d cure colds, fevers, asthma attacks, upset stomachs, and even broken bones. I could always expect a half dozen comic books to come home, express delivery by him, if I was sick. I probably read only one or two, but I always accepted them appreciatively because he was so proud to bring them to me with all their curative powers.

But the back page of the comic books was what I found most interesting. I was a skinny boy like most of my buddies. What was on the back page appealed to all the skinny boys. It was the body builder, Charles Atlas’ ads. Those ads always showed a skinny boy sharing a beach towel with his girlfriend. And then along comes the muscled-up bully boy who kicked sand in the face of the skinny boy, while the girlfriend looked admiringly at bully boy’s muscles, obviously comparing them to her towel mate’s lack of muscle mass, the proverbial 98 pound weakling, which uhh, would be me. The ad promised, for one dollar, that I, too, could be the bully, and leave my 98 pound days behind for good.

There were back page “itch powder” ads, too. The pictures of boys who’d been subjected to itch powder were hilarious. I suppose you’d sneak some itch powder into your friend’s, or your enemies’, underwear during PE and, after a minute or so, watch them do a “catch the holy spirit” buck dance. I’d bet that even “society ladies” couldn’t suppress a laugh at that scene.

And one of the most intriguing ads was for X-ray glasses. I would have had more friends than you could count if I had a pair of those powerful spectacles. I’m sure they worked as advertised. My imagination ran on steroids.

Eventually, the comic book publishers decided to include girls as potential spenders on the back page with ads for “Bosom Expanders” beginning to appear. They even had before and after drawings, and wow, did those illustrations show commendable results! My imagination just bought a ticket on the hormone train. I could just order a few “Expanders”, have them shipped anonymously to selected girls, wait impatiently for a couple of months, and then dig my X-ray glasses out of mothballs and let them do their thing; allow me to see through things that I previously couldn’t see through.

I faintly heard Momma’s voice. “Mike, wake up. Get dressed, brush your teeth. It’s time for school. And judging by that smile on your face, you were having sweet dreams.” Yep. Sweet.

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