Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Saved From the Bonfire

Your will find, in posts to come, that this blog is about so much more than comics. That's just where my interests began. 

The next turn of events resulted from a blow-up between my parents. They had already been separated for some time, by the time I was seven. But my dad never quite found time to retrieve his stuff. Little by little, my mother gathered boxes of his things and stacked them in a front room closet. I took a little comfort in knowing it was there, feeling that he would come back to stay one day and spread it around the house again. He did come around quite often and my mother, brother and I were always thrilled to see him. I know my mother still loved him, but he had left for his own reasons. He still seemed to love all of us, and I was mystified as to why he didn't come home to stay.

One Saturday, as I was playing, I heard yelling erupt from the kitchen, and my father came bursting into the front room, closely followed by flying saucers, cups and dishes. They crashed harmlessly, but my mom stormed into the room yelling at my dad, and threw open the closet door and started heaving boxes onto the floor, some of them spilling out their contents. She told him to take his things and get out, go, take it all and just go away.

I sat in the far corner, terrified and bewildered. My dad, on the defensive at this point, yelled that he didn't want the stuff, just get rid of it, he didn't need it or want it. He even kicked at it in red faced frustration and made his way out the front door and was gone. My mother burst into tears and ran for the bedroom, slamming the door.

Now I was seven, almost eight. Even if I was much older I don't know that I would have known quite what to do—comfort my mother? Run after my dad? Well I was seven, almost eight, and I just sat there. The afternoon light was fading and there was silence all around. I have no idea where my brother was, but I was alone as the room was fading to darkness. Finally I got up and turned on a lamp, and turned to look at the boxes, heaped in desolation. Some magazines had skidded out across the wooden floor, and I picked one up and stared at it. No, it wasn't porno, it was a picture of a beautiful woman's face, with the title of College Humor. The skid across the floor had scuffed a section of the title off, but I was mesmerized by the woman's expression.

My mom, by then, was puttering in the kitchen, heating some soup or such, and came to the doorway to say that I should eat dinner, and don't worry about that stuff on the floor, she would get rid of it in the morning. She went into her bedroom and quietly closed the door. I picked up some other magazines and was floored by the beauty of each cover. I was seven, almost eight, and I fell in love with magazines that ranged from the 1920's to the 1950's.

I understood later that my father had been an auctioneer and furniture dealer between 1946 and 1955. As he went through estates, he came in contact with all sorts of oddities. Magazines and books were fairly worthless in those days, and he just held on to some for whatever reason—maybe he was even smitten with their beauty, or maybe he just didn't know what to do with them.

Well, he made it clear that he didn't want them. My mom made it clear she didn't want them. So I calmly gathered up a boxfull, along with a few oddities and made for my bedroom. I kept them with the comics that I had 'saved' from the flood. My mother never seemed to notice their absence as she burned the rest of his belongings, clothes and such. I had saved them from the bonfire.

I found out much later that my father had that day told my mother that he had married another woman, even as he had never legally divorced her.

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