However, in my 1950′s boyhood there were only two main superheroes that I remember: Superman and Batman. I read some Superman and a lot of Batman, but they were not my main interests. When I received my weekly allowance of 25 cents, I would head to the local drugstore, The Medicine Chest, and blow it all on two comics and a small package of pretzels. When I could get both an Uncle Scrooge and a Donald Duck, I was in heaven. A quick dash home to my bedroom would find me laying on my bed, eating pretzels and reading my favorite comic books of all time.
Here is a Donald Duck plot that I still remember. Donald is working in the kitchen of one of Uncle Scrooge’s hotels. Donald’s job is peeling potatoes, the second lowest job in the hotel. The lowest job is climbing into a potato peel -filled garbage can and jumping up and down on the peels to smash them down. This was done by a gorilla wearing an apron. Are you getting an inkling on how this is going to go?
Donald tells his uncle that, as his only nephew, he deserves a better job. Uncle Scrooge agrees to move Donald to a high office position. Donald proceeds to bungle every assignment he gets. Are you ready now to chance a prediction? In the last frame, Donald is jumping up and down in the garbage can while the gorilla peels the potatoes. I loved that story.
My favorite Uncle Scrooge issues involved Donald and his nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, going on adventures. They would typically travel to some exotic location to investigate a mysterious happening at one of Scrooge McDuck’s businesses. The culprit was usually someone trying to supplant Scrooge as the world’s richest duck by sabotaging the main McDuck diamond mine or some other valuable holding. Donald, of course, only added to the mayhem while Uncle Scrooge went into a series of frenzies. Luckily for them, Huey, Dewey and Louie, using the training they received as Junior Woodchucks, always save the day.
Uncle Scrooge was famous for his money bin, which consisted of a tall windowless building filled with cash. The main attraction in the money bin was a swimming pool filled with money. The pool was divided into three sections: pennies for wading, silver coins for swimming (and they really were silver when I was a kid) and bills for diving.
Naturally, a money bin is going to attract some unwanted attention. For Uncle Scrooge that came in the form of the Beagle Boys.
It was easy to tell that the Beagle Boys were members of the criminal element, because they always wore their prison uniforms with their convict numbers embroidered on the front. As if that wasn’t enough, they never went anywhere without wearing their Lone Ranger style masks. Although, they worried Scrooge to no end, they were never very successful as robbers. Perhaps, they should have considered a better disguise.
The third favorite comic of my boyhood was the annual Little Lulu Camp Edition. It was expensive at 25 cents but well worth it.
The real star of Little Lulu was her friend and adversary Tubby, who loved to solve mysteries. The pattern was always the same: Lulu would come to Tubby with a problem. Tubby would follow every clue and then announce that Lulu’s father was the guilty party. Lulu would become outraged and claim that there was no way her father could have done it. It didn’t take long for the truth to come to light, and sure enough, Lulu’s dad would be, in some way, connected to the “crime”. The story always ended with Tubby declaring victory by saying, “The spider spins again,” while Lulu stood with gritted teeth and clenched fists.
When my brother Jim’s and my comic book collection became bigger than our mother wanted it to be, she gathered them all up in one pile and demanded that we sell half of them at the White Elephant Shop where we would receive one penny for each two comic books.
While commencing the business transaction, Jim and I couldn’t help but notice that the White Elephant Shop had a large number of used comic books available at the bargain price of one cent apiece. Thus it was that we would return home with a stack of comics exactly half as tall as the stack we left with.
LITERARY TIDBIT: O. Henry (born William Sydney Porter) may have been the master of the popular short story form, but he was far less skilled when it came to money. While working as a bank teller in Houston, the fledgling author was accused of embezzling a few thousand dollars, prompting his rather sudden move to Honduras.
But a few years later, when he came back to visit his dying wife, he was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. It was here that convict Porter assumed the pen name O. Henry. His incarceration offered him the time to write as well as a chance to mix with a slew of seedy characters, perfect fodder for his fiction.
A model inmate, Porter was released in 1901, after serving just three years. He passed away in 1910 with 600 stories, but reportedly only 33 cents, to his name.
MARGINALLY USEFUL TIDBIT: A pound of lemons contain more sugar than a pound of strawberries!
AND YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD A BAD DAY: A certain little girl, when asked her name, would reply, “I’m Mr. Sugarbrown’s daughter.” Her mother told her this was wrong, she must say, “I’m Jane Sugarbrown.” The Vicar spoke to her in Sunday School, and said, “Aren’t you Mr. Sugarbrown’s daughter?” She replied, “I thought I was, but mother says I’m not.”
AN EASY RIDDLE: A man jumps out of a window of a 20-story building. He falls all the way to the ground below and lands on solid concrete, with nothing to cushion his fall. The man gets up, still alive and completely uninjured. How is this possible?