We did not have a lot of comic books when I was a kid. What comics we did have would never have qualified as a collector’s item because they were well-worn by the time they were passed between the four of us.
My favorite part of the comics had to be the last page. It was a full page advertising the most amazing things to purchase — all directed at kids. I remember so many of them, but none was as intriguing to me as X-Ray Specs. Believe it or not, I wanted to see through my skin — not through people’s clothes!!
I worked hard to return pop bottles at 2 cents a pop to save up a dollar. That’s 50 bottles! Then there was the cost of the postage on top of it. I remember so well putting my change in the envelope, addressing it, and putting the stamp on. On the school bus, I gave it to my older sister to mail for me.
For weeks I waited to receive my high-tech specs. But they never came. It was a disappointing moment in my life.
There were so many choices of things you could buy. Take the Ventrilo – a device that was advertised as helping you learn to “throw your voice” and become a ventriloquist. Or perhaps you might be more interested in a tiny monkey that would fit in a teacup? If you were a weakling, you could order a Charles Atlas body-building program. And who could resist those pictures of the Sea Monkeys who were “so eager to please they can even be trained“? Oh, the list goes on and on. But for me, it was always the X-Ray Specs.
The waiting continued. I never mentioned this order to my parents since I had ordered on the sly. I wasn’t sure they would approve. So, I patiently waited. Still nothing.
So many of these advertisements were terrible scams. The Federal Trade Commission even got in on the action by sending a cease and desist letter to one of the advertisers. No one could have convinced me these things were scams. I believed it was all miraculous science. You know, the stuff parents could never understand.
One day, before my sister passed away, I asked her if she remembered me giving her the envelope to mail in for my X-Ray Specs all those many years ago. She laughed and said yes, she remembered. She told me she opened the envelope, took the dollar and never gave it another thought.
I see there is a book available about these products from the back pages of comic books. Maybe I will just order Mail-Order Mysteries by Kirk Demarais and live vicariously through him.
Dang! I wish I had gotten those specs! Life is full of disappointment.