Once I could drive, it was even better, because I had a place to drive to. In my two-toned green 1951 Chevrolet, very much a man of the world, I drove to spend an afternoon and my allowance.
There was a tiny store there.
It’s name was ‘Thomas Bookstore’, but it sold very few books. It was a hole in the wall, and pure magic from wall to wall. A portly middle-aged man ran it, probably Mr. Thomas. He was balding, taciturn, apparently wearing the same dark suit, sitting on a chair near the front, gazing out into the sunlight. I now wonder what he dreamed, sitting there.
In the middle of the store, from front to rear, was a glass-enclosed wooden cabinet, well lit, and moving slowly down one side and up the other, I gazed on marvels. Magic tricks, practical jokes, oddments and endments. Fake bandages, rubber worms, a fly inside a plastic ice cube, matches that sputter, eyeglasses with wierd-looking eyes. Everything from the Johnson-Smith Catalog and more. Science fiction and other magazines, including nudist magazines showing people doing ordinary things, but naked! Caveman masks, like Ernie Kovacs’ Nairobi Trio.
With one of these caveman masks, Eddy Frank and I took turns standing beside the road in a heavy coat, hitch-hiking. Eddy Frank swears that one motorist nearly hit the phonepole, swerving as he gawked. I missed it, because you can’t really see well from a caveman mask.
There was no end to the marvels at Thomas Bookstore. Every few weeks, I visited again. It required almost an hour to peruse once around the store, looking at the marvels. I bought now and then, a science-fiction magazine, a deck of shaved cards for magic tricks, a book about Hypnotism.
Then, lunch at Woolworth’s counter. See a movie, then home.
How wonderful such a time, when such things were wonders!