Archive for February 13, 2010

COMIC BOOKS

MEMOIR

COMIC BOOKS

When I was around nine years old I remember making trips with my father to uptown Newark to visit bookstores to buy comic books.
The stores are now long gone, torn down and replaced by skyscrapers, but once there was a series of used bookstores, the only ones in the area, huddled together on Market Street, located where the uptown section of Newark began, just beyond Penn Station. Once you left my area of Newark and made your way to Penn Station. and under the elevated railroad you were uptown, heading toward Broad and Market, the heart of Newark.
Off I would go with my dad to buy comic books. The stores were ancient with cats perched in the dirty plate-glass windows. They were musty-smelling rooms filled with shelves piled with old books from the creaky hardwood floor to the grimy ceiling. This was my first experience visiting bookstores. During my youth, I received a gift from my mother; the love of books. She was a constant reader.
I love bookstores to this day, both old and new, and the smells of the used bookstores take me back to Market Street. The bookstores of Market Street had huge front windows crammed with books along with the before mentioned cats; the store overflowed with books. And somewhere in this maze of books were bags and bags of used comic books. The comics had their covers removed (which might have indicated something illegal) and sold for a nickel each or six for a quarter and we would buy them by the stack.
There would be romance comics for my mother, science fiction and action heroes for me and for the younger kids there would be Nancy, Donald Duck, Archie and more. We would bring home a bundle of comics, along with the musty smell of the store, sit around the kitchen table and divide them up.
Taking part of my stack of comics and hiding some in the bathroom for nature’s calls did not endear me to my family. There was a water pipe running from floor to ceiling on the outer wall and I would hide my comics rolled up and wedged between the pipe and the wall near the ceiling. Of course, they were in plain sight. I just assumed no one would ever look up.
At the age of nine comics were my entertainment; they were my entry to the world of reading and imagination. To this day I lose patience with computer games, get bored with TV and other electronic means of filling your day. But given a good book, I get lost for hours always needing to know what the next page holds.

February 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment


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