Brer at Power of Babel recently posted about another eBay score: an old Disney comic book called "Donald Duck Sees South America." This was a book he remembered from his childhood, but was lost to the ravages of time and young readers. It reminded me of a treasure I have.
In the early 50s Wheaties held a promotional offer: send in 15¢ and a box top and get a set of 8 pocket comics. It seems that my grandmother did this to get these little books for my mother, who would have been 6 years old when this book was offered (it is copyrighted 1951). She didn't get them all, and perhaps some of them were lost or destroyed, but I have about a dozen in all. I remember reading them myself when I was very young. My grandmother had to repair them occasionally, and now they bear patches of aged yellow cellophane tape. When I "grew up," (cough) she passed them on to me, safely sealed in a heavy-duty ziplock bag. I stashed them away in a safe place, but didn't ever revisit them. (Click to enlarge all images).
Some forty years on now, my memories of these have faded and I hardly remember anything about them except that I did read them, many times, when I was first learning to read, which would have been when I was four and five years old. The one that I remembered best was "Donald Duck and the Inca Idol." Brer's post reminded me of those books, and of this book in particular. The image of that idol perched on the cliff with storm clouds all around was just awesome to my four-year-old imagination.
The story starts with Donald's nephews getting into trouble for hauling Donald's bed outside and jumping off the roof onto it. After he scolds them, they decide to run away. Meanwhile...Uncle Scrooge discovers something with six toes in a mysterious unmarked tome that excites him. By the way, I can't say for sure, but it's a pretty good bet that this was my first exposure to a literary pipe smoker.
Uncle Scrooge calls Donald and asks him to go to Peru to retrieve this artifact for him. The nephews decide to run away some other time.
This picture doesn't seem particularly awe-inspiring now, but when I was four years old the image of that idol perched on the precipice with lightning crackling around it fired my imagination like nothing else. Although I had forgotten most of this book, this image has stayed in my mind since I first read it. "It'll take at least a minute of deep thought!" I have to remember that line.
Of course, there were some misadventures. An uncannily accurate strike of lightning hits the idol while Donald is standing between its strange odd-toed feet. It, and he, plunge off the cliff. OH. MY. GOSH!
Eventually they make it back home, with the idol, but not before risking their necks a dozen times! Uncle Scrooge is ecstatic that the six-toed foot wasn't damaged.
I would now like to repeat that I had forgotten most of this story. It's been at least 40 years since I last looked at it. I had forgotten how the story ended. So I felt surprise, delight, and laughed out loud at the climax.
Now that's a pipe rack!