I Never Received My X-ray Specs


Day 219

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.

21 thoughts on “I Never Received My X-ray Specs”

  1. Ha ha – this is so funny. Your sister hosed you for sure. Collecting those pop bottles wasn’t easy. Even harder (I’m guessing) was not spending the 2¢ on candy when you redeemed them.

    I remember drooling over those pages. I wanted that body builder deal, so bad. My father finally bought me a (real) weight set for Christmas, but when it didn’t help (I wasn’t dedicated to the task), I decided it wasn’t as good as the one I could have purchased.

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    1. Dan, she sure did! I worked hard for that dollar and yes, the treats were quite a temptation (which my sister no doubt enjoyed!)

      What kid wants to work hard at body building? Reminds me of an old Little Rascals show when Alfalfa was body building to impress Darla (and I am in no way comparing you to Alfalfa!)

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  2. I had to go back to the original post in order to answer your comment! Weird!
    I can’t say that I remember those ads. were they in ALL comic series? I think we used to get the Archie comics, and not sure what else. There were no boys in my house, so nothing very adventuresome!

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  3. I have 2 older boy cousins who shared their comics with my baby bro – all tattered but a sure sign of being well read!
    I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood and the empty lots and collect pop bottles, too! The best weren’t pop bottles tho…those beer bottles brought in a good nickel each!
    So sorry to hear of your sister passing. It must have been a poignant moment between sibs to learn of the fate of your specs order way back when.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do not remember beer bottles. Wow, five cents was a lot of money! What a score.

      I lost two sisters and it has been tough, but those real, treasured moments are what keep me going. We certainly had a good laugh about it, for sure.

      Thanks for the comment.

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  4. That’s awesome that your sister remembered and finally confessed, and that you two made peace with the situation. If I knew about these when I was little, I’ve forgotten. Those ads have been replaced with blingy ads on Facebook that I’ve fallen for…sadly…and I’ve yet to see the products I paid for. Hmm…maybe it was Jim’s sister selling them?

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