Back in the early 1960s, there was never a shortage of literature in my family’s home -- back about the time LBJ promised the nation was not about to “send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” We had publications of every genre.
The old man preferred the gut-busting tales of saloon-soaked cowboys ending their last cattle drives and the desperadoes who met their fates on the streets of Laredo. The Mom preferred True Romance, whose characters often were lusty lasses making bad choices and wives at crossroads in their marriages, and Reader’s Digest condensed volumes.
My library consisted mainly of Childcraft books, dog-eared back issues of Mad magazine and stacks of comics, ranging from Superman and Batman, to Archie Andrews and his classmates at Riverdale High. Virtually ever issue of any comic book worth its salt in those days reserved the inside back cover with content capable of making any pre-adolescent boy dream big. The page always kicked off with a screaming header like “Look Here Kids!!!!”
Does the image of growing your own “sea monkeys” at home ring a bell? Maybe not. But that slick page offered a world of adventure and promise. But the catch, as it always has been in advertising, is to persuade a reader to ante up with their hard-earned bucks. You could run the table on the universe, at least among your friends, for fun and your personal amusement. I often fantasized what I could do if I possessed a few measly dollars.
Consider a few of the possibilities I once yearned for:
Joy Buzzer. This nifty little device fit in the palm of your hand attached to a fake ring on your hand. Wind it up and shake hands with another and get a laugh from giving the victim a “shocking sensation.” In truth, there was no electrical jolt; just a slight, noisy vibration. Cost: 50 cents.