Monday, February 26, 2018

Useless Junk I Sorta Wanted

The very first magazine subscription I ever had was to Boy's Life. Although the exact details have grown murky with the years, I'm guessing I started receiving it around the time I joined Cub Scouts, which would have been 1970-ish, and continued with it until I aged out of Webelos in the mid-1970's. Boy's Life was a "gateway drug" for the outdoor magazines I read to this day, with feature stories on outdoor adventure, travel, hobbies and the like. There were also several pages of classified ads at the back of each issue, and while the items listed for sale in these ads changed very little over the 5 or 6 years I received the magazine, I always made a point of checking them out anyway. For $1.00 (plus 25 cents postage) you could get a live chameleon and 100 meal worms, or for $2.75 you could get four fresh-caught seahorses, including a pregnant male. The chameleon seemed like a better deal, but you certainly cannot discount the value of a pregnant male. Knives were apparently big sellers, too. One ad regularly promised TWO lock-blade knives for the low, low price of $1.98 (plus 50 cents shipping). Even by the standards of the early 70's, two knives for less than the price of four seahorses was quite a deal.

While knives, live animals, and nature crafts had legitimate appeal to the naturalists and outdoorsmen among the scouts, many of the items were clearly just targeting adolescent boys. One ad touted a "Blood Curdling Bag Full of Horrors (They Obey Your Commands)" for a dollar. This "bag" consisted of a "jumping octopus," a "peeping skeleton," a "hideous shrunken head," and a "blinking eye." I have no idea how they "obeyed commands," since they were obviously cheap plastic novelties like the kind you could get from a gumball machine for a quarter. There was also a 7 foot tall "monster" for the low, low price of $1.00 (plus 50 cents shipping and handling).

Although many of these items were of interest to me, I never actually ordered any of them. I didn't have a lot of disposable income at the time and even then, as naive as I was, I had a hunch that a 7 foot "monster" that cost a buck probably wasn't much to look at.

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