Thrifty Drug Store used to be just down the street from my house. I could walk to Thrifty’s in less than 5 minutes. Thrifty Drug used to have an ice cream counter. They used a weird cylinder-shaped gun, which the guy in the white hat and dirty apron would plunge into the flavor of your choice. The gun would fill with ice cream and then he would shoot it out onto the cone in a perfect cone-sized cylinder of ice cream. Then he would swish the gun in water, bang it on a towel and plunge it into your second flavor choice before balancing another ice cream cylinder onto your cone. Making an ice cream tower of drippy ice cream delight, which you had to try not to tip too much or the top scoop would fall off the cone. So the first thing I would do with a new double cone was mash the top of the tower with my tongue, trying to force it to stick to the cone better.
But before doing the double cone tower maneuver, there was one of those wire spinney racks next to the ice cream with a big sign on top saying “Hey Kids, COMICS!” The rack was stuffed with all sorts of super hero, western, romance, and funny animal comics. The comics were never organized, so I always had to look at every single copy in every single slot in the rack. Turning it round and round, squeak, squeak, squeak. Trying to decide which comic to risk my 25 cents on. I couldn’t spend much time reading the book to see if I liked it. The store clerks would always say, “Hey, buy it or put it back. This ain’t no library.” (The library was next door to Thrifty Drug, by the way.) But I soon learned that you couldn’t always trust the cover art to give you an idea of what was inside.
Usually I ended up with Iron Man, Batman, or the occasional Captain America. There were also Nick Fury and other WWII comics, which were making a comeback of sorts in those days, the early 70s. Each issue I could afford got read dozens of times. I would keep them in a box with my Boys Life magazines. I learned how to draw from those old books. I traveled the world in those books. I learned about crime and science and politics in those books.
And sometimes I would skip the extra scoop and buy two comics instead. Well worth it. The comics lasted longer than the ice cream.--Jay Larsen