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Jimmy Olsen’s long lost brother?

October 5, 2011

A month ago I bought a new bike, one that I assembled myself, and somehow, miraculously, it hasn’t fallen apart like the cop car at the end of The Blues Brothers, leaving me in a bloody heap on the side of a road. Small blessings. And it’s been somewhat of a boon. Every week I make a twenty-mile round trip to my favorite comic book store, and when I’m zipping along at high speed under my own power I feel a little like Superman. Or, at the very least, Ultraman.

I brushed up on my bike maintenance and safety info before I started riding, including watching one of the creepiest monkey-masked instructional shorts you’ll ever behold, but perhaps I could have used some 1940s tips from befreckled Bobby Shelby (a Golden Age bike ad fixture) & co. Did kids ever actually think it was fun to ride ten miles to see a Freedom Train? Did they ever use “may” instead of “can”? Did such things only exist in the realm of sepia-toned marketing?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2011 7:39 am

    The Freedom Train was real; it toured the country from 1947-49 and included some fabulous treasures seldom seen outside Washington DC:

    “The Freedom Train was temporary home to America’s most precious documents and other unique treasures, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, one of the 13 original copies of the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the Iwo Jima flag, the German and Japanese surrender documents that ended World War II, and much more.”

    So I have little doubt that postwar kids (with the limited entertainment opportunities of the time) would be thrilled to see it. According to a website on the train, more than 3 million people visited it during its trip around the USA.

    Incidentally, the train also featured in a few comic book stories, including Detective #271 (where it was renamed the Liberty Train). I believe it also appeared in another Batman story contemporaneous with its tour in the 1940s, but can’t find a specific cite for that one.

    • October 6, 2011 10:21 pm

      Was the primary entertainment for kids of my father’s generation just staring at a burning candle? Because making a twenty mile round trip to watch a train — no matter what said train carried — pass by seems like a lateral move from that. But you may very well be right. I probably would have stuck to making Stand by Me treks to see dead bodies. That’s entertainment.

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