Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Buying Comics Back in the Day

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was in the small town of Pocahontas, Arkansas. It’s a town I visited a lot as a kid because my parents grew up there and also I spent a week with my cousin there each summer. It’s a classic small southern town like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. It had a town square with an old courthouse in the middle, a laid back pace with friendly people and it also had a “five and dime” variety store, namely Peter’s Variety Store, also known as “Joe Pete’s” because Joe Peters ran it.

Whenever I would find myself in Pocahontas, no matter the reason, the one goal I had in my head was a visit to the greatness that was Joe Pete’s. Why you ask? Because, in addition to the tools, candy, combs, shoe polish, umbrellas and other odds and ends, Joe Pete’s had a WALL of comic books. Not only did they the newest issue of Justice League, they had last month’s and the month’s before. This proved invaluable to me, as I myself lived in a small town and got my comics at places like the JR Food Mart, Safeway and Leaks Quick Mart. I wasn’t afforded the luxury of a comic book store back in the day, so I’d often miss issues of my favorite books.

Joe Pete’s was a gold mine for me. There was nothing better than getting a stack of comics (with the price written in grease pencil so you could know how much they were with tax, see image to the left) and catching up on any adventures I might have missed. The place seemed like it was in a time warp. I would visit in the late 70s and early 80s but it felt like it was a store from the 50s and 60s.

Unfortunately Joe Pete’s closed years ago, so every time I go by the empty store front I feel a bit sad, but the memories of the place also make me smile. My wife Heather snapped the picture above of me outside the old shop. When I showed it to my mom (who had to endured my many requests to stop by there growing up), she said it looked like I was waiting for the store to open. Maybe she was right.

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