I suppose feeling like a kid again at the fair is a pretty obvious choice. The Fair at the PNE is a highlight of my year. I have been coming my whole life. I buy a season’s pass every year and anybody who knows me, knows that I use it giddily any chance I get. But our fair is not just any fair. Our fair has the wonderful Big Band conductor Mr. Dal Richards and his orchestra! A Vancouver treasure. I see him every year.
My parents we’re both born in 1925 and I came to them late in life. Big band music is their turf and it is familiar, early memory music to me. Dal has played with and conducted the best of the best. This coming January he will headline his own 95th birthday show ay the Orpheum. That’s right, 95!!!
To a young boy, the comic book store is like a candy shop and Disneyland wrapped up in a tidy bow. I grew up in East Vancouver, far from the reaches of the two largest comic book stores (that I was aware of) in the city. On rare occasions, a trip downtown always called for a trip to Golden Age Collectibles, and on even rarer occasions, a trip to the west side, meant a trip to the Comic Shop, the Mecca of comic book stores. One glance at the bright yellow awning was enough to set a young boy’s heart aflutter. A glance in the window brought visions of comic books, action figures, busts, statues, maquettes, and other things a boy can hardly dream of affording with a paltry allowance in his pocket. Once inside, pristine comics, bagged and boarded, lay before me in row after tidy row, comic book collectors eagerly thumbing through them with the oh-so-familiar refrain of, “Got it, got it, got it, need it, got it, need it, got it,got it..”. Issues from years gone by, many older myself at the time, lay in Mylar bags with acid-free backings contained safely within glass cases. The tales of the Astonishing X-Men, the Spectacular Spider-Man, and the Mighty Thor, locked away from grimy hands and grubby fingerprints.
It was to my dismay, then, when (now in my adult years), during a drive up West 4th, that familiar canary-coloured awning, that bastion of my childhood, lay missing at the top of 4th and Arbutus. Gone? Closed? But how? Why? My childhood tarnished, my youthful memories in disarray…. Had it closed forever? Shall I never know the joy of wandering through the aisles of back-issues at the once mighty Comic Shop, looking for issues from my youth to fill me with memories of times gone by, reading quietly in my bed late into the night, filling my head with the adventures of the Hulk, Superman, and the Justice League? Thankfully, a quick Google search revealed that it had not closed, but had in fact moved, to another location. It’s further down now, closer to Alma, and I couldn’t help driving down and wandering inside. It’s smaller now, more intimate, but it’s still there. My childhood is (at least for now) still open for business.
Comic books taught me to fight for truth and justice, to stand up for those that can’t defend themselves, that bad guys never win, and maybe, just maybe, if you try hard enough and never give up, you’ll not only get the girl, but you might just save the world in the process.
And that familiar yellow awning gives me hope that the same message might be learned by a few more kids.
Guest Contributor – Tommy Heiden