"Curbs"

(A biography of a boy and his comics)

Part Five - TheComic Book Machine

By Glenn Andrews



By the time I was old enough to go grocery shopping with my Dad, my allowance had gone from 15 cents to 25 cents to 50 cents to one whole dollar. This was great for a couple of reasons. First I could buy multiple comics at 12 cents each or the occasional Beatles ($2.49 at the local Spartan's department store) album. But there was something else that was available to me...regular paperback books.
Although I would go with my Dad, he didn't actually make me go up and down the aisles looking for cereal or soap products. No, he'd drop me off at the Marshall's drugstore a few stores down the strip mall from the grocers and let me buy comics. Also, a few stores further down from the drugstore was Burrows, a place that sold typewriter equipment and school supplies as well as containing a six foot tall, two sided paperback wire rack. And paperbacks at the time were only 35-50 cents total. This left me with enough to get four more comics on top of the paperback if I chose to.
I was 12-14 years old by this time and could juggle my finances with no trouble. But trouble would rear it's head in the form of a machine that would soon replace comic spinner racks in many drugstores. This was the sky blue comic book machine.
Yes, you'd put your dime in one slot and your two cents (later your nickel as prices rose) on the other side of the slot. You'd select your comic by looking through the plate glass window and punching in the number that aligned itself with your choice of reading material. Push in the slot and pull out sharply and your comic would drop downward into a slot space that you could remove your four-color wonder from.
But on more than one occasion, as I watched the comic drop towards my waiting fingers, I saw one that I wanted even more behind my purchase. And that was the whole problem. I'm sure there were advantages to the machine but it eliminated the ability to peruse to browse (which is probably what the druggist was trying to do) or to shop. For once that comic dropped out of it's slot, you were stuck.
Now years later I do have a spinner rack in my house, but sometimes for sentiment sake, I think I'd like a comic book machine. The experiment only lasted a few years, but I think it was an interesting part of our hobby.

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