I suppose some of the older children attempted to purchase cigarettes, but I doubt it because Tom, the city policeman who patrolled that area, knew everyone by name and it would have been hard to put one over on him.
The store was owned by a married couple. I still can picture them, both overweight, he sitting on a stool near the cash register at the front, she on another at the back mostly hidden behind the crowded articles for sale. I can’t recall either ever moving and wondered if they stayed there overnight. We called him Izzy. I suppose that was his name. In no way was it meant to be disrespectful and I don’t think he considered it to be. Addressing her would have been a problem. Was it Mrs. Izzy or was there a hidden appellation waiting to be discovered? The problem did not arise, however, because there was never any communication with her.
I read such enlightened literature sold at Izzy’s as Superman, Batman, and Archie. When I felt it was time for a new volume to appear I’d stop daily at Izzy’s and say, “Is the new Superman in?” Since my inquiries started about a week before it was really due, Izzy usually responded in the negative. He seemed amused by my persistence. He was unfailingly pleasant, and in later life I wondered how he and his wife endured what must have been a difficult existence.
I remember one issue of Superman showed the superhero closing in on Hitler. I wondered how that was possible because I did know (I really did) that he wasn’t real and who knew when Hitler would fall. Actually, turns out Superman did know. The next issue had Hitler taken down and about the same time Germany surrendered and the real Hitler was dead.
Maturity has afforded many opportunities to make mistakes. One of mine was the tossing of all my comic books as I assisted my mother in moving from a home, seized by the government for “progress,” to an apartment. I think they might have fetched a minor fortune these days.
I haven’t read a comic book in decades. As far as I know, none of my acquaintances has. So imagine my surprise when I caught my wife with one spread before her. Hers differed from those of my youth. For one thing, the cover was hardback, just like a regular book. And the dialog was at a significantly higher level than “Shazam!”
“Reading comics, are you,” I said with a smile that did not hide the tone of derision.
“Not a comic book,” came the sharp retort. “They’re called graphic novels.” I gathered it was a new form of literature.
How wrong I was, at least about the “new.” I googled the term and discovered from Wikipedia there is a long history both in the United States and abroad of various forms of this media. A quick scan of reviews of several graphic novels indicates subjects that parallel traditional writings. They can be huge in length. One was noted to be 600 pages! It’s interesting that the reviews consider the caliber of both the author’s writing and the artist’s drawing.
I can’t speak much about this type of medium because it doesn’t appeal to me, so I haven’t given it a fair chance.
But any smugness on my part has evaporated since, in a recent journal published by the Sigma Xi science society, there was an article about the effectiveness of the graphic approach to presenting sophisticated notions from physics. Not a novel in this case, of course, but a serious scientific introduction to difficult ideas. The article had a one-page sample that I read. I am forced to admit it was an effective method for education.
So yet again I have to admire the creativity and genius of those searching for unique ways to express themselves.