Doug: In the past few weeks, we've done posts where we've asked you to list things you'd keep and things you'd intentionally lose. Today, as sort of a variation on that theme we're asking you to choose your top five elements of your Bronze Age childhood that you get all warm and fuzzy thinking about. In other words, if someone were to write a biography of you, or give a speech at a roast in your honor, how would they characterize your leisure time as a child in the 1970's (and if you're a bit older than me, feel free to reminisce on the 1960's)? Another way to look at is having a personal time machine -- what elements of your childhood would you want to relive? I'll start.
- Comic books. As a child of six or seven years old, even eight, I'm sure I didn't have more than 30-40 comics. But what a magical world lay within that small stack! I know at that time, among others, there were Avengers, Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, Justice League of America, Captain America, Batman, Rima the Jungle Girl, Tarzan, Marvel Two-In-One, and Marvel Team-Up. I read those books over and over, traced off of them onto tissue paper, cut out the corner boxes and Marvel Value Stamps -- never concerned with collectability or future value. I know when I was very small I had no sense that the comics came out monthly, so stringing together stories wasn't always possible. It didn't take too long to figure out the "to be continued" motif, and then I tried to keep my eyes peeled whenever I was in places that had magazine racks. I do distinctly recall figuring out that some places had more choices than others. For example, grocery stores may have stocked only 10-12 titles; drugstores with spinner racks were the gold standard of choice!
- Megos. Building off my love affair with comics, Megos were a dream come true. I was very fortunate to have a sizable collection of these: Batman, Robin, Spider-Man, Captain America, Green Arrow, the Hulk, the Thing, the Human Torch, Conan, Tarzan, Thor, Iron Man, the Penguin, Mr. Mxyzptlk, the Lizard, Aquaman, the Green Goblin, and Kid Flash. I wiled away hour after hour with these, especially with friends who had other guys -- Shazam, Superman, Mr. Fantastic, Batgirl, the Joker, etc. I'm smiling as I type this. It was a really, really good time. Sometimes the stories would just continue endlessly -- it became almost episodic, breaking for dinner or to go to bed, only to resume the next day. Man...
- Planet of the Apes. Most of these memories today come from the short period in my childhood when we moved from the far south suburbs of Chicago to Milwaukee. I was there between June 1973- March 1976, and while I missed Channel 44 out of Chicago that aired the Marvel Super-Heroes and Spider-Man cartoons, I discovered many classic films and even old serials while in Milwaukee. It was also during this time that the Apes movies were first broadcast on television. Captivated isn't the word. Spellbound? I don't know, but whatever it was, they had me hook-line-sinker. In addition to the superhero Megos I listed above, I had 5-6 Apes figures, the treehouse, and a couple of other playsets. When it wasn't the Marvel and DC guys mixing it up, it was the Apes! And when the TV show hit? Catch me, I'm falling! Again, I am washed over by a nostalgic feeling of wide-eyed wonder.
- Tarzan. We discussed the Lord of the Jungle just a few days ago. Again, it was during my time in the Badger State that I first beheld Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. I loved those old black and whites. I'll throw in here, too, that I saw most of the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby "Road" films during this era. How formative! But back to Tarzan -- again, I was insatiable. The Ron Ely television show was a "can't miss", and was every bit as popular in my elementary aged brain as the $6 Million Man. Did I mention The Wild, Wild West? Jeez -- get me that time machine! Anyway, in the midst of all of this digressing, it was fun to play Tarzan outside with friends. One of us would be a native ally (we didn't care about political correctness back then), or Boy, and we'd explore the neighborhood letting our imaginations run wild. It was quite awhile later, around the bridge between junior and senior high school that I discovered the ERB novels. It was like falling in love all over again.
- AM radio. One of my prized possessions as a kid was my black transistor radio with the white ear plug. Just one. It was AM, after all -- who needed two? McCartney's Live and Let Die and Band on the Run, Paper Lace's Billy Don't Be a Hero and The Night Chicago Died, the BeeGees' Jive Talkin', Elton John's Your Song, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, and Rocket Man, Three Dog Night's Joy to the World, and Johnny Wakelin's Muhammad Ali: the Black Superman were all favorites that spilled out of WOKY in Milwaukee. FM radio and album rock? No idea at the time. Just give me those sappy songs and catchy tunes!
So how about you? What five elements of your childhood brought a grin to your face as you were reading my recollections?