Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Living Way Out

When I was 10 went to the TWO GUYS (from Harrison) Department Store on Route 10 in East Hanover, NJ, just a hop, skip, and a jump up the road from the Sandoz Corporation's US manufacturing plant.

Now at the time I had absolutely no idea what Sandoz manufactured, as doubt most 10 year olds in '67 had any clue that their laboratories in 1938 Switzerland first synthesized LSD-25 thanks to an unforeseen fortuitous event facilitated by Albert Hoffman- not to be concused with the similarly named LSD researcher Albert Hoffer, or the ex-acidhead Youth International Party- 'the Yippies' -founder Abbie Hoffman.

No, no, all that stuff I either read about, heard about, or experienced years later in my late-teens/early-twenties.

In 1967 the only 'mind-altering' or 'consciousness-expanding' stuff I could readily access was MAD Magazine (and its imitators SiCK and CRACKED), Playboy, comic books, and the newfangled (to me anyway) Color TV.

But life just wasn't centered around these- I actually was reading real books, books that the Bookmobile would bring to the Helen Morgan School parking lot and the kids were encouraged for a modest fee- 50 cents! -to buy paperback books covering all manner or subjects and interests.

The juvenile section had the new for that time Peanuts reprints in digest book form, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, etc., etc., all fine books written by authors who specialized in children's fiction, although I don't believe that Samuel Clemens were writing exclusively to kids.

I wanted to buy and read the science-fictional stuff, the TV show tie-ins, the novelizations of my favorite programs of which the work-for-hire authors were no slouches either: Murray Leinster 'The Time Tunnel'- his second book with that name 'Time Tunnel' but instead of it being a sequel or Part Two of the first novel 'Time Tunnel' written in 1964, about a naturally occuring time warp that sent the book's characters to 1804 Napoleonic France, Irwin Allen had Pyramid Book commission him to write it based on his concept of 'The' 'Time Tunnel' which was a GIANT

Op Art tube that the main characters would be transported backwards and forwards in time with a lot of special effects and explosions; Star Trek by James Blish which had the cooler than cool James Bama artwork depicting Captain Kirk and Mister Spoch circa 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', and which gave you some details and backstory not seen on the screen, as did 'The Time Tunnel' and 'The Addams Family' written very wittily by another veteran Jack Sharkey;

These were all great choices and before I could plunk down my $1.50 in quarters the Bookmobile lady asked me if I could read and understand any of this stuff as thses books were not designated for a 4th Grader but insteead for a bright 8th Grader (and up) as they didn't come from the designated Children's but the Young Adult section, which was a nice way of saying teenager.

I said, 'Yeah, sure, but if there's anything I don't understand I'll look it up in a dictionary or encyclopedia."

Luckily the school's Reading Teacher chimed in and said that she gave me books in the school library that were for older grades so I shouldn't have trouble with these either, and if all else fails there is the dictionary and encyclopedia.

So I finally had 3 books, real books, albeit paperbacks, with no pictures but plenty of text.

And what stories they were!

Fast forward.

Now I'm in TWO GUYS 6 months later and while my Mother is on the checkout, I check out the POP- point of purchase display -of all their science fiction and fantasy books, and came across two that I wanted to get= the Isaac Asimov novelization of 'Fantastic Voyage' and this book:
The cover was to me very much in the Addams Family/Munsters mode and I'm certain that the late artist Ron Walotsky who painted the illustration was aware of that but hey, he probably had an artistic license.
The stories by Wyman Guin were even better and even though I don't recall the titles, some of the stories were memorable, such as the society of multiple personalities, are a girl who had magic powers ala Samantha Stevens.
Do yourself a solid treat and get this book.
Write me and let me know how you liked it.

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