POP BOTTLES AND COMIC BOOKS
So many years have passed that I have forgotten a few of the details that
evolved around this weekly ritual I practiced as a kid here in Derby,
Colorado. I do not recall if it was on a Wednesday or Thursday of each
week I would along with my brother and our closest buddy would ride our
bikes to Neely’s Food Market on 64th and Monaco. Once in the store we
would head for the comic book rack and each one of us would pick out our
favorite comic book. Mine of course would lean towards a DC Comic super
hero, Superman, Super Boy, Super Girl, Lois or Lana Lane. If they were
not in stock that week it would then be Batman and Robin, the Green
Lantern, Aqua Man, Wonder Woman or Green Arrow, any one of the
Legion of Hero’s.
My two companions preferred hero’s like Spider Man, the Hulk, Thor or the
Fantastic Four which I found to dark a character, I like the guys in the
white hats. However if they could not find their superhero’s they would than
pick out characters like ugh: Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Donald Duck or even
Archie and Veronica.
We would then grab a 16 ounce bottle of RC cola and five cents worth of
penny candy and take a quick trip back to our foxhole dug in the empty lot
off of 64th and Porter Way and by the light of a few candles in our secret
cavern we would read our comic books, eat our candy and drink our pop.
After reading the comic we individually had picked we would than pass it to
the next person and read theirs.
Being able to buy a dime comic, five cents worth of candy and a bottle of pop
did not come easy. During the week we would ride our bike up and down
the streets of Derby, Commerce Town, Irondale, Adams City, DuPont, Welby
and other nearby communities and hunt for pop bottles. Each bottle would
get us two cents, unless we found a big bottle and that would net us a
nickel. We knew to get all we needed would have to have enough bottles to
scare up seventy-five cents and this was not easy as perhaps others were
looking for pop bottles. One of our favorite spots was up and down Sand
Creek. Here we found the nasty’s bottles, filled with mud and oily gunk but
after a little cleaning they would earn us two cents each. Sometime we went
so far as seeing and then taking bottles from someone’s front yard or porch.
I hope this will not get me arrested now for making such a ghastly
It soon became my job after these weekly or bi-weekly events to buy comic
books to convince my younger friends to allow me to be the keeper of these
valuable works of literature. I convinced them I could store them in the
crawl space of my parent’s home in a tightly locked wooden box. In reality
this box was a flimsily wire and wooden vegetable crate that any hungry
mouse could have eaten through. I did however convince them this was the
right thing to do and after our afternoon in our underground hideout my
companions would give me their comics for safe keeping.
I would eventually fill up that crate with perhaps hundreds of comic books
and my friends I assumed would forget about the comics they handed me.
My plans for these comic books were simple. It was my purpose to keep
them as I also kept my collection of marbles, toys, baseball and football
cards and yes even Popsicle sticks. I guess you could have called me a
pioneer hoarder; I kept everything and guess what still do.
Time would pass; I would eventually spend a few years in the Army and
eventually return home to my collection of model cars, maps from every
state in the nation, books, toys and comic books. I went down into the crawl
space of my parent’s home looking for the treasures of my youth and
discovered much was now missing. The coffee cans of marbles were gone,
most of my toys were missing and the crate of comic books could not be
found. I inquired as to the whereabouts of my keepsakes. First I found out
my marbles had been given away to kids who did not have marbles to play
with. I than found out that there was no need for a grown man to have toys
so they were also distributed to kids without toys, hey they even gave away
my popsicle stick and most of sports cards. As to the crate of comic books,
well a place was discovered where they purchased used comic books for two
cents each and yes they all were sold.
Today I sit behind my desk sharing this small story with you in my own
personal museum of my history and yes I have items that date back a
hundred plus years. I have my mom’s Brunswick 1921 wind up record
player and guess what it still plays records. Almost every inch of office is
now filled with my life, old surf boards, pictures, books, and sports
memorabilia; yes even some of those Bronco cards form the sixties. No I
will not be able to take them with me when I go home to glory, but each
item is a cherish memory of my almost 68 years in this life and each item
reflects a moment of my great life, except the comics in my library are now
replicas and not the real thing.