Every so often some trivial thing will evoke a memory of something I haven’t thought about in decades. If I had the gift and the memory-evoking thing were the smell of madeleines, it might inspire me to write thousands of pages of novels. In this case what brought old memories floating back to the surface was just a television commercial and it will only produce a blog post but, since it’s a memory of a world that no longer exists, I thought I’d pass it along.
When I was a kid no more than eight or nine years old every so often I’d walk the half mile or so along the main drag of the gritty neighborhood we lived in at the time from my home to the drug store. Sometimes I’d pick up a few glass bottles along the way I could return for the deposits. At the drug store I’d purchase a comic book, sit at the counter, and order a cherry coke. In those olden days a cherry coke wasn’t the horrible ersatz thing that passes for a cherry coke today and makes you wonder why anyone would ever drink such a thing but was made to order from carbonated water, coca cola syrup, and cherry syrup.
I’d sit there, drink my coke, read my comic book, and be transported to the future or a world of superheroes and grand adventures. These weren’t the dark worlds of today’s comics but the bright, heroic worlds of the comics of my boyhood—a difference so immense I can hardly explain it to you.
Just writing this has evoked another memory. I think the last time I sat at a drug store counter and drank a cherry coke I purchased not a comic book but a paperback book. That was more than thirty-five years ago in a different town and a different drugstore. I think I still have the paperback somewhere around here. It was a novelization of Star Wars, issued before the movie was released. Another bright, heroic world. In a galaxy far, far away.