Friday, August 1, 2008

What We Read

This is less of a Burbank post than it is a 1970s nostalgia post, but since the two are inextricably connected in my mind, I figured I'd write a bit about it. Since I write books for a living now, people sometimes assume that I was reading Dickens and Shakespeare when I was a kid, but no: My favorite was Mad Magazine. Spy vs. Spy, anyone? Or what about that last page that you folded so that it became a different picture?

I even bought the paperback collections of Mad Magazine, which I read (looked at) on car trips.

Dynamite (see above) was another favorite, probably because the covers featured whatever I happened to be interested in at the time (i.e., Land of the Lost).

Whenever I could, I would by music magazines like Cream; occasionally, I would buy magazines that featured nothing but the song lyrics to a song. In fact, I'm pretty sure one of those magazines was called Song Lyrics. That way, I wouldn't botch the lyrics when I sang along to my transistor radio. (Did I mention that I wanted to be a rock star?)

Lastly, I loved ordering books from Scholastics. Remember how the teacher would pass around little order forms (I don't even remember catalogs, just a list of books), and you'd check off the ones you wanted? My favorite books were ones about Houdini, the Lochness Monster, and motorcycle daredevils. (Ironically, those are still three of my favorite subjects.)

Oh yeah...and every year I'd have to buy the new Guinness Book of World Records.

Remember the dude with the longest fingernails? Or what about the guy who could smoke something like, I don't know, a hundred cigarettes at once? (You think he's still alive?)

Ripley's Believe It or Not also made for some fine reading.

But my all-time favorite reading? TV Guide. In the eighth grade, using my dog walking money, I actually ordered a subscription. Good stuff. I still own this issue. Not sure why. I saw it in a box in my basement just the other day. Along with some copies of Dynamite. And a book about Houdini.


Pete said...

Man, I used to read Dynamite obsessively. (And not just the issues with Cheryl Ladd in them.) Though I don't know if this was also the case in Burbank, we used to order Dynamite from one of those school book club deals - one of them was the Arrow Book Club. It seemed like a great thing at the time, though as a cynical adult I now wonder what kind of personal kickbacks were made to the school board/school principal to give the books club companies their classroom monopoly.

In one issue Dynamite included an uncut sheet of nine Topps baseball cards. Not knowing the collector value that something like this would fetch someday, I of course hastily cut the sheet into individual cards, with a very dull pair of school scissors. Which wouldn't have necessarily been tragic, except that my Topps sheet included George Brett's rookie card, which would later be worth a small fortune in pristine condition. My Brett card, unfortunately, was torn on one edge thanks to my haste and that dull pair of scissors. Ah, what might have been.

leomemorial said...

I LOVED Dynamite, Tiger Beat, Rolling Stone....

wow. great post.

YellowRose said...

I was a big reader in school, I still am. But I feel in love with reading in grade school. Ordering books from Arrow and Scholastics was like drugs for me back then! I would beg and bargain with my parents just to get as many books as I could. It usually worked as they were happy I was reading!

Dynamite was a favorite, so was Tiger Beat to get the latest teen idol gossip. TV Guide was good too, I understand your liking that John! Even as a kid I liked reading Readers Digest, it was always available at my grandparents and it had the best jokes.

As for books there were so many that were favorites back then but Judy Blume was probably my favorite author that early on.

Christine DeMaio-Rice said...

Mcnally - you brought a freaking tear to my eye. Who would have thought kids in Brooklyn New York would have anything in common with kids in Flyover, Illinois. Every photo was a gem.