I must have been about seven or eight when my mom started letting me ride my bike alone downtown to the library and to the stores along Main Street to shop. The trip was over a mile each way. It was years yet before the library situation would get me into trouble. We still had a real live soda fountain downtown when I was growing up, where they served up the best ever root beer float or you could get a soda, which we called pop, with the exotic flavor called Cherry Coke.
On Wednesdays, the Cedar Bulletin would publish its swap paper and we’d race to grab the coupon inside for a double feature Saturday, popcorn, and small soda for 35 cents. I was all over that.
I had a little obsession with monsters from the movies due to my weekly watching of “Chuck Acri's Creature Feature.” I loved Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, and even Three Stooges whenever they met up with the Wolfman. Vincent Price was a god. My dad was pretty pissed one day when he learned I’d traded his vintage 1940 softball to Jordy Schaeffer for a stack of Monster magazines.
On one of my trips downtown, I discovered the “five and dime” as we called Harrison’s, had a basement. In the basement lay all kind of wondrous things for kids like me, including monster model kits. They cost about $1.45 as I remember, which was a small fortune for a kid like me. Time did not diminish my desire; I had decided it must be mine.
So, I did what every entrepreneurial kid would do, I set up a Kool-Aid stand. And broke out the gumball machine. My mom bought a bag of 100 gumballs for 50 cents or so, and I sold them for a penny apiece. The Kool-Aid was 3 cents. We set up across from Lookout Park (which I liked later in my life for a number of other reasons) for the good traffic. I think it cost more in sugar than we got in profit, but days and days and days and days of work and after consuming so much Kool-Aid I never wanted to see any ever again, I had 160 pennies or so (once I split the money with my various business partners).
I raced down on my bike and trotted down the stairs to the basement treasures. I scooped up my prize and paid for it and raced home. I was giddy—it was finally mine. I put the kit together in about 10 minutes. I stood back, looked at it, and sighed.
I heard the kids yelling in the distance outside. Abandoning my new love as quickly as it had wrapped itself around my heart, I ran out to play with my friends.
He who dies with the most toys is, nonetheless, still dead. ~ Unknown