IMG 8110It was all a scam. Those ads at the back of comic books in the Way Back Times. Back when comics were a dime, then 12 cents, then 15 cents. Initially, the ads were a source of juvenile dreams. Once upon a time, I believed X-ray specs worked. The ad was awesome, featuring a leering guy with lightning coming out of his glasses. He enjoyed “a hilarious optical illusion” of seeing through a Lady Person’s clothing. The ad promised you could look at your hands to see the bones underneath the skin. What 13-year-old boy wouldn’t want to have such an amazing scientific invention? Honor House sold a pair of these wonder glasses for only $1 plus 25 cents shipping. With a name like Honor House, it had to be true. I ordered a pair. Alas, it was not true. The glasses did not allow you to look at the bones in your hands or beneath Milady’s clothing. Lightning did not zap out of your eyes when you looked through them. What a major gyp.

I blame the lack of truth on the pernicious influence of Madison Avenue. Surely a fine company like Honor House would not knowingly submit false advertising to a candid world. Don Draper had to be behind these misleading ads. As a newly minted teenager, I followed Samuel Coleridge’s theory to have a willing suspension of disbelief. I believed the ads. As Bloody Mary sang in South Pacific, “If you don’t have a dream/ How you gonna have a dream come true?” The ads were the stuff that dreams were made of.

There were many wonders advertised at the back of the comic books. For $1.50 you could get a phony arm cast complete with a sling. It looked like the real thing and would fit teenagers or adults. For a buck you could get a “Mr. Baldy Bigshot Skin Head Wig.” When you put it on “you will look several years older and get a million laughs.” Fortunately, I saved a dollar and obtained a natural skin head look courtesy of my maternal grandfather’s gene pool. You want funny? Get a pack of Onion Gum for 20 cents. It looks like normal gum but tastes like onions. Give a stick to your friends and watch the hilarity as they spit it out.

An all-time favorite that did work was the “Joy Buzzer.” You hid a secret buzzer in the palm of your hand. Then shake hands with an unsuspecting buddy. He will jump six feet in the air when the buzzer goes off, surprising him and entertaining you. Imagine the fun you could have with your own tube of $1 fake Vampire blood. “You never know when a Vampire will strike! Be ready with this realistic-looking Vampire blood and watch the girls swoon.” Like the chronically swooning Miss Pittypat Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind,” back in the ‘60s female teenage persons were more loving swoonful. Fake Vampire blood was just the thing to set them off.

Another classic gag was the tiny voice throwing instrument you hid inside your mouth. It came with instructions on how to become a ventriloquist. You can “throw your voice into trucks, behind doors, everywhere. Fool teachers, friends, and family.” What could be cooler? The ad featured a worker carrying a big box on his back with a voice coming out of the box yelling “Help! Let me out! Help!” Hours of hijinks ensue. Pro tip: This did not work.

For 50 cents you could get a real boomerang for target throwing. Guaranteed that “In case you miss, it comes right back to you, and Bingo! You are all set to fire again. More fun than a barrel of monkeys.” I could never get the boomerang to come back. I would throw it and it just hit the ground. It was considerably less fun than a barrel of monkeys. I was never quite sure how much fun a barrel of monkeys might be. Was the top on the barrel and the monkeys were confined inside?

If there was no top of the barrel, the monkeys would just climb out of the barrel leaving you to chase them down. That didn’t really seem like much fun either. Monkeys in a barrel is a pretty low bar for fun. Chasing monkeys was probably more fun than throwing a curved flat stick and then picking it off the ground.

Yelp Review: Don’t buy a boomerang.

The boomerang craze did spawn a great Australian song in 1962 called “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back” by the late great Charlie Drake. I could identify with the Mac, the hero of the song. Mac lamented “I’m a big disgrace to the Aborigine race/ My boomerang won’t come back.” Bigly sad.

Have we learned anything of use today? Once again, almost nothing. But if it saves one person fifty cents on a faulty boomerang it is worth it. As Marvin Gaye once sang: “Believe half of what you see/ Son, and none of what you hear.”

That goes double for anything contained in this column.

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