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What time does the Super Bowl start? RIGHT NOW, BABY! (Post includes a real 49er.) – Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact #1 (Vol. 5)

February 3, 2013

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Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact was a bit different from other comics during its lengthy run — a publication history that started in the heart of the Golden Age. It was distributed through parochial schools and by student subscription, and much of the content within had a religious bent aimed at promoting the good works of the Roman Catholic Church. There were also serialized stories running alongside the one-off features: The Pirate and the Padre was your stirring swashbuckling fare, while the more mundane and school-centric Chuck White focused on the doings amongst besweatered teens. A sample of the latter:

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As you can see from these 1949 panels, Treasure Chest was somewhat of a trailblazer in integrating the races, at least on newsprint. Worthy of note.

In this particular issue you also had your usual Catholic exhaltation, focused this time on the Maryknoll organizations. Roman Catholic overseas mission services, they’re given a primer in the obviously titled “The Maryknoll Story.” Individual missionaries are also highlighted for their service, including some, like Father Bill Cummings, who made the ultimate contribution in the field of battle:

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True story.

Enough of that, though. This is Super Bowl Sunday, and you can’t go anywhere without something that touches on football. Yes, even churches take note. (And even the people holding their noses in the air, loudly proclaiming that they care naught for the NFL or its helmeted gladiators, make themselves part of the machine with their obnoxious protestations.) Yes, within these very pages, right next to pirates, pubescents and priests, is the (brief) life story of an American gridder. Ladies and gentlemen, Norm Standlee:

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The story is only four pages long, but it captures the few highs and lows of Standlee’s life to that point. (He was 29 at the time.) Then a fullback with the San Francisco 49ers, he had previously filled that position for the Chicago Bears, and before that had been a part of the football squad at Stanford University (sharing resume stops with current Niners coach Jim Harbaugh). And before that, he was snapping bones with a mere swipe of his mighty limbs:

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How did he get his “Big Chief” nickname? One would think that it just came from being on the Stanford team, whose old moniker, the Indians, would afford ample reason. It turns out that it’s also from his sideline employment with the local fire department:

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Norm, like many athletes of his era, had his career interrupted by World War II, and, according to his comic bio, he enlisted and saw service in India, building pipelines to help fuel cargo planes. Mazel. And, lest we doubt his Olympian stature, GASP IN AWE AT HIS MEASUREMENTS:

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Twenty-seven inch thighs? Sayyyyy…

There you are. Norm Standlee. The man, the myth, the 49er, all thanks to Treasure Chest and its sometimes religious content. Enjoy the game. (Niners 34, Ravens 24. RUN TO THE OVER.)

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