Butter Rum Cartoon

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Growing up is neat, because finally you can afford the toys you wanted as a kid. Sometimes that's reversed, though. When I saw that 204-piece Revolutionary War Soldiers set advertised in comic books for $1.98, I had to get it, and I did, thanks to my indulgent parents. But when the package arrived, it was about the size of a box of checks, and the soldiers turned out to be cheap plastic figures so flat that a lot of them wouldn't stand up by themselves. I was upset, and when we returned it for a refund, the company instead exchanged it for a slightly better, more three-dimensional, cheap plastic set. How would I have known that if I had kept all those flat plastic figures and stuck them away in the box in some drawer, I could have taken them out fifty years later and sold the set for a few hundred dollars on eBay?

There were so many magnificent products being advertised in comics for so little money. There was even a log cabin for sale for a dollar. Of course I had to get that. But it came in a flat package, and all it was was a so-called cabin printed on a big piece of flexible plastic that could be fitted over a card table. The door was nothing but a loose flap that kids could crawl through. I was pissed. But we kept it for awhile until it tore. I pitied the people who didn't happen to have a card table.

But there were also products that were indeed worth it, but we couldn't, or didn't, afford them. One was the Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension Course. We always looked on these ads with suspicion. After all, how could a boy ever look like that? And so we never bought the course, which was sold in separate lessons arriving in periodic shipments. I was in my fifties when I discovered the course is still being sold at charlesatlas.com, and bought it, and it turns out to be really cool. The problem, of course, is having the discipline to do it; but I'm convinced it's legitimate and works. I've also bought a video biography of the late Charles Atlas, and respect the man as an honest person.

Another thing advertised in the comic books that I never bought as a kid was the Made Simple Self-Teaching Encyclopedia -- a 25-volume set, with each volume dealing with a different subject.  Being a bookish sort of fellow, I drooled over the ads for this set. Finally, in my fifties, I searched for and found this complete set on eBay and bought it, and am not disappointed.

While honesty was touch and go in comic book ads, Cracker Jacks prizes were more than tiny little pages stuck together. Real toys were found in Cracker Jacks. But that was when kids knew how to play with little toys. Nowadays kids choke and die on them and so we have to be content with tiny little pages stuck together.

Cereal boxes were the most exciting. Real prizes were inside them, from decoder rings to crow calls. I remember happily blowing my black crow call all over town, and in school if I could get away with it. It did really sound like a crow. Having been raised on a farm, my Dad laughed about it, wondering why anyone would want to call a crow. I don't know whatever happened to it, but missing it, I found and bought a similar crow call via amazon.com. Meanwhile I watched a YouTube video of a guy blowing a crow call on his back deck and a large murder of crows instantly beginning to fly in a tizzy overhead.  So I tried my new crow call out on my mail route. The thing works! I've gotten responses from crows all over downtown. And out in the parking lot after work one day, I noticed a couple crows flying about, so pulled out my crow call and began cawing as I got into my van.  The crows cawed back overhead, and more and more came, and soon there were over a score of them circling close above to the point that Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" came to mind. A co-worker was watching from her car across the lot and can vouch for this spectacle. And to think all this fun could once be had for free from a box of cereal!

Yep, it was fun wishing as a kid, and it's fun wishing now.

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1 comment:

  1. Love that part about the crows. This post brings back memories of toys I got as a kid, too. Remember when you could get a 45rpm on the back of cereal boxes? And it would play, kind of, but I thought it was still neat. I remember getting a Captain Crunch "treasure box" bowl and spoon set that I really liked. Wish I had it now, bet it would be worth some $$.