Thursday, March 28, 2013


I still remember the day I discovered this comic. It was hot outside, but inside the drug store it was cool, and the store had that smell all drug stores had in those days: an intoxicating aroma of soda fountain Cokes and hamburgers, pipe smoke and coffee, and fresh magazines and paperbacks and newsprint.

In the midst of this aroma one day in 1960, I was astonished to discover a Three Stooges COMIC BOOK! I was wild about the Three Stooges, watched them on TV every day, thought about them all the time, even dreamed about them, but it had never occurred to me there might be such a thing as a Three Stooges COMIC BOOK.

I loved comics, was in fact addicted to them, but my primary addiction at this time was the Three Stooges. Thus, discovering the two things together (a Three Stooges COMIC BOOK) was almost more than I could stand.

I should say a few words about my Three Stooges addiction …

For a certain period of time in my childhood, the Three Stooges were my heroes, more so even than Tarzan and Zorro and Superman and Roy Rogers. With all my heart, I wanted to be just like them. They were my role models ... especially Moe.

I would emulate Moe. Yes, it’s true. I would act like Moe, talk like him (“I’ll murder you!”), and of course wear my hair like him ... My father would take such pains to comb my hair (because I wouldn’t). He would pour the hair oil ("greasy kid’s stuff") on my head and slick my hair backwards, digging the comb painfully into my scalp …

And as soon as I was out of his sight, I would push my hair back down over my forehead so I could be like Moe.

My father always wondered why my hair wouldn’t stay in place, but he could never figure it out ... he would just pour more greasy kid’s stuff on my hair, and comb even harder, and harder and harder—but to no avail. Within minutes, as soon as his back was turned, my hair would look like Moe’s again (this, of course, being a prelude to the Hair Wars my father and I fought a few years later starting with Beatlemania).

But, as I say, my emulation of Moe was not just about the hair. I also tried to act like him. Which was not good; it made me an irritating child in the eyes of adults, and among my peers it made me the terror of the playground …

I meant no harm, of course. I was never a bully. To me, it was all in fun, the eye-poking and nose-twisting and head-bopping. It was all comedy, all for laughs. I had no idea I was wreaking havoc. I thought I was spreading good cheer. One day, however, I learned different …

It was 1958. I walked into my kindergarten class one morning and saw two pals of mine standing there, talking. They did not see me walk up behind them, thus were unsuspecting when I grabbed their heads and banged them together—expecting to hear the funny BONK sound it always made when Moe banged Larry and Curly's heads together.

But the BONK sound did not come. Instead, blood came gushing out of one boy’s mouth—it was horrible!—and both boys began crying.

I did the smart thing: I ran away.

An hour later, the teacher found me in a broom closet, crying. I was terrified, sure I was going to get the Electric Paddle for this offense. But I was so contrite, the teacher decided I had learned my lesson—and she was right. I had learned the difference between Movies and Real Life, and never confused the two again.

I remained a Three Stooges addict, however. And two years later, when I found this Dell Comic in the drug store, I was desperate. The color photo cover was frenching my mind! I HAD TO HAVE IT! But my week’s allowance had already been spent. What to do?! I begged my mother for a dime. She was merciful and gave it to me. I bought it, and read it riding home in the car, and read it again when I got home, and read it again and again and again until the comic finally fell apart … then years later found the comic on Ebay, and bought it, so that now, once in a while when I need a Rush, I can take out the comic and look at the cover, and remember … remember how the drug store smelled … remember how it felt to be alive in 1960 … remember the Three Stooges, remember the summer and remember the dream.