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  • Writer's pictureJack McDevitt

Blog #72

A notification arrived yesterday from a longtime friend that blog entries had gone missing over the last few weeks. My first reaction had been to wonder what was a blog entry? Oh, yeah. It came to me after a minute. My intention had been to post something at the website twice monthly that might be of interest to readers. And okay, there were some significant moments I could put out there. I can recall being on a pier in Wildwood, NJ, when Batman made his first appearance. I was about four years old, so it would have been around 1939 when someone in my family handed me the comic book. I’m not sure when I first encountered Superman, but I was listening to his radio adventures as early as I can recall. And I remember vividly Batman’s first appearance on the series. In 1941, the girls on my street became excited when Wonder Woman showed up as secretary of the Justice Society. Secretary? One of the girls pointed out that she could have taken down any of the JSA members. I became an early collector of comics. We had a lot of the early editions, including a complete run of All-Star Comics.


I became a fan of Captain Marvel. His stories had a crisp sense of humor. In my most memorable one, Captain Marvel was coming home after a struggle covered with dust and mud. He stopped at a lake, got out of his uniform and went for a swim. Somebody stole the uniform and he spent the balance of the story flying around in a barrel. In those war years, we were collecting paper and contributing it to the war effort. Not sure why the military needed it. But apparently that was the reason my collection disappeared. I recall showing my father a Wall Street Journal story twenty years later about the value they’d acquired. Some copies were at the time worth thousands of dollars.


All the kids on my street at the time were reading them. Consequently most of us could read pretty well before we hit the first grade.


Other books that made a splash in those years were the Big Little Books. They were small and compact. Each page of text was across from a picture. The books featured Dick Tracy, Captain Midnight, the Lone Ranger, Superman, Little Orphan Annie, and other big names. I still have one of them in my library: Joyce of the Secret Squadron. A bit later, in about the fourth grade, I got hooked on Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bought all the John Carter and Carson Napier books. Carson Napier, for those who don’t know, made the first flight to Venus.

I guess the bottom line of all this is that we may not be entirely aware of how kids acquire their reading capabilities. We tend to give most of the credit to the teachers. And they deserve a fair share. But if parents are smart enough to make the right children’s books available to their kids, they might ease the transition to their more mature years. And help them acquire a lifelong passion for books. I can’t imagine a life without books.


Most of our abilities fade. We had a basketball hoop outside the house, but after my sons moved on, we took it down. Reluctantly. But I had no use for it anymore. One of the more painful moments in my life was coming home briefly during my Navy years and going out to watch my old baseball team play. Most of my former teammates were still there. But I was relegated to sitting in the stands.

Fortunately, books never go away.

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tomkellie
Mar 11, 2021

~ Books were a given in my home. Shelving contained a wide variety, skewed toward the natural sciences yet including a full sampling of much else. There was no supervision of what I read, whether from the local public library, the school library, or what was at home. The only time I ever saw comic books was on rare visits to the dentist, whose waiting room was amply stocked. Science fiction never was on the home bookshelves. As one of the family physicians was Alan E. Nourse, M.D., who was also a science fiction author, I was aware of works set in space and/or in the far future. Thank you for the blog post above, Jack. You offer up food for thought month after…

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Kristin Lundgren
Kristin Lundgren
Mar 11, 2021
Replying to

Nourse wrote one of my two favorite books as a young teen - Star Surgeon

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craignorcal
Mar 08, 2021

Good to see your post; it had been awhile though I guessed it was because you'd been busy writing or working on a second draft of the next novel or similar. And what you said struck a chord--I was encouraged to read in so many ways including a parent and a grandparent that often read aloud to me and my brother. In some respects it was a different generation--no one cared to check on what I was reading if I got the book from the school or public libraries.

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kristinlundgren
Mar 08, 2021

I agree with your reading beliefs. My parents were readers, and we had books all over, in almost every room, and one room, my dad's study, or the library as we called it was wall to wall books. My dad read to me until I was about 12 when my younger brother came to an age where he needed reading to. He always read a step up from my level, pushing my boundaries. I now am a reader and own an enormous number of books, and I did the same with my girls. The part about the loss of your comic collection reminded me of my ex-husband who lived in NE New Jersey in the 1950s and onward. He…

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Sarah W
Sarah W
Mar 05, 2021

I'm also forever thankful for books, and was musing again recently how grateful I am when people put their memories down in writing for others, as you have done here too. Thanks for all of it.

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dave
dave
Mar 04, 2021

I"m of a different generation, but I can still remember the first Fantastic Four and Spider-Man comics coming out. I had been a DC fan, and remained loyal to Superman and Batman and many of the other DC characters, but Marvel became my favorite after that.

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