Thursday, July 12, 2007

"THE OLD DAYS"



Over on Johnny Bacardi's blog site he's been going down the memory lane about his earliest memories of buying and collecting comics. 'Thought it might be fun to add MY "2 cents' Worth" regarding the same.

Actually, if you'll click onto his link, the same stores where he bought comics are pretty much identical to mine, but there were a few differences due to my being a bit older than he.

The first comics I can remember were definately DC super-hero types, some Walt Disneys duck books, Classics Illustrateds, Marvel fantasy titles, and a few Archie and Harvey humor types. My late brother was 6 years my senior so when I was 6 years old, he was already 12 and had been reading comics for several years (and it's because of his interest that created my own). But the very first comic I can ever remember having as my very own was a copy of Classics Illustrated Special "The Jesus Story" ("3 Camels" cover version) from 1957. A copy of this was given to everyone in my Sunday school class room at Christmas in '57. Even at age six I knew what a comic book was, and I read and re-read that comic many a time.

And at that time I was living in the same town I live in now; a little burg about 80 miles South of Louisville, KY., called Horse Cave. Everyday my brother and I would walk to school (about a mile from our house), and many times we'd stop in at Caverna Drugs Store on the square where they had a large magazine and comic book rack. When I had that rare dime back then, I'd buy a comic. One of those was a copy of Action Comics #278 (1961) with the Super Perry White story. But I was already well informed of all the Superman Family by then having previously read probably every "Bizarro" appearance, as well as most of the early app.'s of "Supergirl". I don't remember originally reading the first "Legion" app., but I DO recall the second one. And there's one comic that puzzled me for years trying to figure out "what" it was? Finally I discovered only a year or so ago that it was a copy of House of Mystery #85. the confusion with that was it featured a story drawn by Jack Kirby about the statues on Easter Island coming to life, so naturally I thought that had to be an early Marvel fantasy tale (I was mistaken).

Dorsey Drugs was on another corner in Horse Cave next to the Ben Franklin 5 & 10. Dorsey's carried just about any sort of comic book, and Ben Franklin, back in the 1950's, had a large comic rack next to the checkout counter in the front of the store. At that time they only carried Dell Comics. I bought comics from both of these locations, of course, on up into the Summer of '61 when my family moved 5 miles South to Cave City.

In CC there were two main places to buy comics at that time: Cave City Drugs and Willis' Drugs (oddly enough, "Johnny's" father-in-law now has a business in the location of the old Willis Drugs!). Some of the earliest comics I remember getting there were early #'s 20's Lois Lanes, Adventure Comics with first app.'s of "Mon-El" and "Tales of the Bizarro World" (among others). One in particular I bought there was a copy of Tales to Astonish #27, and I still own that battered and beat-up original copy today.

Willis's had a better selection of monster-type mags, though, and I got a LOT of issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland there, plus into the mid 60's I bought most of my issues of Charlton and Tower super hero titles from their racks.

There was also, for a short time, a little variety store in Cave City on the square next to their Houchen's Grocery which had back issues of various comics for a nickle each. Which brings me to a missing piece of my comics reading history: my Aunt Katy's Grocery back in Horse Cave.

In the 1950's and early 60's, Goodman Candy Company (which distributed dry goods, candy, etc. to local stores) would sell these shop owners stacks of retainer stock; mostly things like Archie and Super Comics titles. The store owners would then re-sell these books for a nickle each. My Aunt Katy would always buy a stack every week. So some of my fondest memories are from that time, sitting on top of her Coke machine (one of those old flat ones where it opened at the top and you just pulled out a bottled drink and paid for it at the counter), reading comic books from those stacks, drinking a RC Royal Crown Cola and eating a Honey Bun. What Days!

And...I traded comics with school mates, or children of friends of my mom, who worked at a local sewing factory back then. Which is "how", I think, I first met "Johnny". It was one'a those things like, "My kid and your kid BOTH collect comics" sorta thingy, so's I went over to his house and did indeed make him a trade for a copy of 'Tec that had that first app. of the Barbara Gordon version of "Batgirl". Funny thing is that we didn't really re-aquaint ourselves with one another for probably 10 years!

Occasionally someone would just GIVE me a big box o' comics. I remember one such gift of probably over a hundred, one of which I recall the best was a Rawhide Kid #25, drawn by Kirby.

A place I started going to in the mid-1960's was "The Magazine Exchange" at 642 East Chestnut Street in Louisville. I had relatives up there and I looked up comic books and magazine shops in a phone book while there once and my folks took me over to it. They sold back issues for six cents each. The first time I was there I begged my dad into giving me $6. to buy a whoppin' 100 comics! Over the next few years when I got a driver's license I finally started making trips up there 3 or 4 times a year, just to buy older comics. It was also there that I first met Don Rosa, a collector from Louisville, and struck up a friendship (Wonder whatever become of him???)

I continued buying comics regularly until 1970 when things like cars and girls seemed more important, and sold my original collection of over 5,000 comics for a pitance.

So if you read "Johnny's" comments about the 70's, it runs mostly along that same line. I re-collected, sold them all and re-collected again over the years. My last collection (which I've deemed as my last EVER) began in the mid-1990's.

2 Comments:

At 7:41 PM , Blogger Johnny B said...

Cars and girls, they come and go...but comics are forever!

I didn't know that about Willis Drugs and my In-laws' office- but I never lived in Cave City, either. By the time I started going there fairly often, in the early 70's, it was gone.

Great stuff!

 
At 5:51 PM , Blogger ~D.Puck' said...

At Willis's drugs, the comic book rack was located just behind the right-side front door in the front, next to at along the wall a large magazine stand. In the center of the store was a two sided shelf, usually reserved for toys and plastic models (bought several Aurora monster models there), and along the left side of the store was the soda fountain, and in the back the pharmacy. Great old memories! Yes, it closed sometime around 1967 or '68 or I think.

 

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