The Value of a Dollar

Today, you can buy a small fry or cheeseburger on most fast food chain’s drive-thru menu with a dollar.  We have stores devoted to the dollar.  Stores with aisles filled mostly of useless items, begging for us to buy and put on a shelf somewhere in our house to collect dust.  While there are lots of things a dollar will still buy you, the value of those items don’t always match the bargain their price tag was.

This wasn’t always the case.  At one time, a dollar packed quite a value.  For me, as a kid, a $1 was priceless.  Because as a kid, $1 could buy me a comic book.

I have been a fanboy, or geek, or dork, or any other name commonly attached to comic book fans for as long as I can remember.  I’ve owned and worn Underoo’s.  I’ve made my very own Mjolnir out of a tissue box, duct tape, and a plastic sheath to a plastic toy sword.  In 5th grade I wrote a paper on Captain America for our ‘Who I Want to Be When I Grow Up’ assignment.  I could rattle off my favorite issues to each character and love a good debate on who is the “best” hero.

One of the past times I enjoyed as a kid (when girls still had cooties), was going to Golden Eagle Comics at the Fairgrounds Square Mall with my Dad.  Once a month, twice if I were lucky, my Dad would drive me to the mall to Golden Eagle.  Golden Eagle was my Holy Land.  A comic book store filled with my favorite characters and a center island of long boxes arranged in a tight square, stuffed snuggly with one dollar back issues of the classics (Amazing Spiderman, Detective Comics, World’s Finest, Fantastic Four, Invincible Iron Man).  One dollar comic books whose value far outweighed their price tag.

Friday night, after dinner, my Dad and I would jump in to his car (I jumped, I think he just got in) and ride over to the mall.  I would talk to him about issues I was going to be searching for, why I thought Batman didn’t need powers to be considered a superhero, and why Alpha Flight was awesome.  I don’t know if he cared.  I don’t know if he even knew what I was talking about.  What I did know was he listened which stoked the fire of my enthusiasm.

Getting to the mall, he would release me in to Golden Eagle to dive in to the thousands of bagged comics and back issues.  All of which cost just one dollar a piece.  My Dad would stand outside the store and wait.  The man had the patience of a sea turtle on Quaaludes.  I would glance over at him from time to time to see if he had had enough.  He never did.  Sometimes I would even call him over to the front of the store, where it met the rest of the mall, to ask his opinion on which comics I should spend my money on.  I looked for his approval.  I craved his input and felt good knowing he was close enough to call for help.

On the way home, I would go through each dollar comic I bought and go on about why it was so valuable.  Why, for costing only a dollar, it was a good deal.  I would read parts of the story to my Dad as he drove then summarize what I read.   I don’t know if he cared.  I don’t know if he even knew what I was talking about.  What I did know was he was still listening.  He always listened.  He was always engaged in what I was saying which only added to the entire experience.

Today I could go through the thousands of comics I have in boxes occupying my basement and identify the books I bought with my dad.  I could tell you about Iron Man #165, or Alpha Flight #12, Batman #408, and the Avengers #231.  I could tell you about hundreds of other books that all were collected with my Dad by my side.  Every now and again, I do pull out those issues.  I read some.  I page through others.  Sometimes I just look at the front covers but I value them all.

At the time, I valued those comic books in the dollar boxes for the reasons any pre-pubescent fanboy would value his comic books.  But looking at them today, I value them for a different reason.  Reasons stemming not from being a fanboy, or a geek, or a dork but from being a son who misses his Dad.  Each and every comic I pull from the boxes in my basement, comics I bought with a dollar as he stood in the mall waiting, are a reminder of Friday nights with my Dad. They bring back the memories and feelings that, at the time they happened, only cost me a dollar but today are priceless.

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19 responses to “The Value of a Dollar

  1. Yes, yes, AND yes!!! Wonderful.

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  2. Dammit…made me tear up again. I WISH my dad had taken me comic book shopping. By the time he took me, he was too busy blowing up over the fact that I bought multiple issues of X-Force 1 so that I could keep one in the poly bag it came in. Then he waxed philosophic about the comics he read as a boy. He told me about how much they’d be worth these days if only he’d saved them…all the while telling me I was foolish for collecting them. Ahhhh….being a dad. Luckily, I won’t be like that with my boys. I can’t WAIT to take them comic shopping!

    So much so, that I’ve already let my oldest boy destroy a few of my spare Spiderman comics. Just seeing him get excited at pictures of Spiderman was worth it to me.

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    • I bought a few copies of X-Force 1 myself even though I hated Leifield. My dad always took me. He even took me to conventions when they were about 1/16th the size and in Holiday Inn conference rooms.
      I actually gave my copy of Alpha Flight 12 to my nephew. I wanted to share the memory of my dad and his grandfather with him.

      Maybe next week, we can go comic book shoppping? 😉

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  3. Daddy Knows Less

    What a great story. Like you said…priceless.

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  4. What a wonderful story and memories. Made me tear up but the truth be told today anything is making me tear up since this is the 3month date of my dad passing. Reading your memories of your dad flooded me with memories of my dad. My dad taught me to fish, shoot a rifle (although I have never had a desire to shoot since then), taught me archery and took me dune buggy riding, never saying I couldn’t do that because I was a girl. Thank you for the wonderful story, I needed to read that today.

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    • Thanks Dawn. I’m sorry to hear about your Dad. Its the memories we hold on to, laugh about, cry about, and smile about that keeps them alive. And its ok to go through all of those emotions. Hang in there. I know, believe me I know, today will be difficult. It gets better. Not great but better. I’ll keep you in my thoughts today.

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  5. Seriously Great story, I can NOT imagine life without my dad, he is turning 60 this weekend…I am so glad you have these memories!

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  6. You really can’t put a value on a great memory. I loved how you brought it all together at the end. My dad suffers with some hefty mental health issues and often I forget to think about the good times instead of the chaos and confusion. Beautiful story man.

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  7. This post is brilliant! Sad when we were kids how a dollar really was worth so much more.

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  8. OMG are you YOUNG, Jimmy! When I was a kid comics had just gone from 10 cents to 12 cents! LOL – but TRUE!

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  9. I was an Archie girl, but you know I was part of the Underoos sister/brotherhood. I’m becoming acquainted with superheroes through my sons. My 3yo got a Captain America costume for his birthday and he’s had it on ever since!

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    • You can tell your son that when I was in elementary school, I wrote an essay on why I wanted to be Captain America when I grew up. I hope you got him a shield to go with his costume? 😉

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  10. Pingback: If you’re reading this, you’re already a good parent. | EduDad

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