“Comics are a gateway drug to literacy.”

When I woke up, it was a bright, sunny morning. I went outside for the papers, and, on the way back, I checked out the garden as I usually do. A cluster of daffodils has bloomed. They are white and yellow, delicate and beautiful. Since then the sun has  disappeared. The once pretty day has darkened and rain is predicted.

When I was a kid, Sunday in the summer was often beach day. My mother packed the lunch, we jumped in the car, and my dad drove to Gloucester, to Wingaersheek Beach. We went early so he could find a good parking space. Each of us hauled stuff from the car to the beach, to the spot my dad had chosen. The blanket went down. Two corners were weighted, one by the picnic basket and the other by the Tartan thermos. My brother and I rushed to the water followed by my dad. My mother settled on the blanket. My sisters pulled out their pails and shovels. They only strayed from near the blanket to wade in the shallow water close to shore or to walk the beach to find seashells. My mother went with my sisters to keep an eye on them. My mother never swam. She never learned how. My father was the best swimmer I ever saw.

The house is chilly. I lowered my heat setting this week as I was horrified at how often the furnace came on in almost May. But even with my sweatshirt on, I am a bit cold so I’ll give in and turn on the heat to 68˚, my go to temperature.

Old habits do die hard. I still reach for the comics first in the Sunday papers. They were all I read when I was a kid. Those comic strips, though, are mostly gone. I remember The Phantom. He was big and muscular and wore grey. A black mask hid his eyes. Steve Canyon was in the air force. I remember his uniform and his plane. Dondi was a war orphan. Henry was a bald kid. I liked Little Lulu, her red dress and her hair-do. She never changed. Her friend was Tubby, shaped like his name. None of them ever grew older. Kids in comic strips never did. One of my all time favorites was Snuffy Smith, a hillbilly. His wife, Loweezy, wore a red dress and a black kerchief. For sure there were far more comic strips, but these stand out in my memory drawers. I have no idea why.

The sun is back. The day is so much brighter. My heat went on so the house is warm. I just got a fresh cup of coffee. I’m in a paradise of sorts. I keep smiling.

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10 Comments on ““Comics are a gateway drug to literacy.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    The opposite here today. It started with quite heavy rainfalls but now the sun shines in between the clouds and it’s pleasantly warm outside. I haven’t turned off my radiators yet, I’ll do that when the temperature stays above 59F for more than a week 🙂

    The Phantom had purple clothes here in the beginning, now I think they’re dark blue. I have however seen him in light blue too 🙂 I did like Snuffy Smith (a totally different name over here though) and we also had Blondie and her children did actually grow older with time but I think they’re the only ones.

    Yes always drive to the beach early for a good parking spot 🙂 It is a good thing we all are morning persons in my family 🙂 It took ages until they finally opened up the kiosk so we finally could buy our ice creams. It was very important to be early for that too before the queue became too long 🙂

    Have a great day!


    • katry Says:

      My heat jumped right on when I went back to the programming.

      It is still cloudy and it rained for a little while, enough rain to make puddles, but it is still warmish at 55˚.

      My Phantom could have been grey-blue now that you’ve jogged my memory. Blondie is still published so I read it every Sunday. The kids are still teens.

      The beach was actually 45 minutes or more from my house, but when I was young, I was always up early. I loved that beach though the water was cold. We used to swim when the tide was out leaving warm water in tidal pools. I don’t remember us ever buying food at the stand. My father chose a spot as far from there as he could.

      Have a great day!!

  2. Bob Says:

    We just got back from Ft.Worth where my daughter was dancing with her dance group in a regional dance contest. Ft. Worth is 30 miles west from Dallas and is the western end of the DFW Metroplex. It’s a much different place than Dallas. Ft. Worth annually gets about six inches less rain but it has a completely different atmosphere.

    Ft.Worth is truly were the West begins. Affectionately called cow town it’s smaller and less cosmopolitan but it’s catching up with Dallas quickly. We were at the Will Rogers complex which is home to several art museums funded by the foundations of a few of the very wealthy families who made their fortunes in oil and cattle. (See the movie ‘Giant’ as an example of Ft.Worth). The two cities never got along and the very wealthy Bass brothers would pack a sack lunch if they came to Dallas on business so they didn’t have to spend any money. The DFW International airport in 1973 began to bury the hatchet between the two cities along with the influx of a few million people from all over the country who never experienced the rivalry. When I was a kid there was a lot of country and a few small towns between the cities. Today it’s just 30 miles of suburban sprawl and freeways with toll lanes.

    The sun is out again with clear skies and a high in the mid 80s.

    • katry Says:

      It is interesting that places so close are that different. I know Dallas is huge but I didn’t know much about Ft. Worth so thanks.

      I understand changes as I lived on the cape when it was so very different than today, so quiet and rural all winter. Now it is suburban in too many ways.

      We have a good size Brazilian population. They are good workers and they do all sorts of jobs including landscaping, cooking in restaurants and many are handymen who can do almost anything.

      It rained earlier but the sun is out now.

      • Bob Says:

        At the last census in 2010 the population of the DFW area was 4.5 million people and nearly as many cars.

        Sadly, many of the hardworking immigrants have no legal papers and Trump is systematically going after them. Many are just self deporting. This reverse migration will not improve industrial jobs in the Midwest, but instead create a labor shortage in areas such as agriculture, roofing, packing houses and restaurant work. Unfortunately, that’s work native born Americans don’t want. Like the Japanese and the Europeans we have an aging and declining population and to maintain even 2% grow will require more young people to immigrate. The Republicans realize that Hispanics don’t vote for them and that their base of white, Anglo-Saxon men is slowly decreasing. Even in Texas, one of the reddest states, non Hispanic Caucasians are slowly becoming a minority. Only Trump would wonder why people don’t immigrate here from Sweden. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        Everything you mentioned is so sadly true. Americans will not do much of the work immigrants are doing. Trump says immigrants are taking away jobs from Americans, but that isn’t what is happening. Agriculture is suffering the most, and that won’t change.

  3. Hedley Says:

    Gosh, the comics. So fundamental to my childhood, the Victor and Hotspur and Beano and…well so it went on and on. There were the Tintin books, and the weekly comics and the dailes, sometimes a comic strip and sometimes a single frame political comment

    And now I am old but love to collect original images, Bill Tidy, JAK, Roy Ullyett, Peter Brookes, Matt, Christophe Besse, they fill my back hallway and remind of a politic or a loved series or something highly personal.

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Your comics are different than my comics. The only one I recognize is Tintin, and that is because of you.

      I do miss many of the comics from my childhood. I skip some current comics in each paper. Mary Worth being one of those.

  4. Denise Says:

    I remember Brenda Starr and her exotic boyfriend Basil St. John, is that right? It had something to do with smuggling black orchids! NC is 65 near 90 at weeks end. Too soon! Denise

    • katry Says:

      I don’t remember Brenda Starr so maybe she wasn’t in my paper.

      90˚ this time of year is crazy. If we get that high, it is in August. I think we broke 90˚ twice last year. Today was 60˚, about right for this time of year here on the cape.

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