Sunday, July 4, 2010

Into the Unknown with Dan Dare, Kemlo, and a Cast of Thousands

MARTY’S MEMORIES - Part One (The Early Years)  - for Jessica and Jonathan......

My childhood memories are not often sparked by encounters with now.

When I think about my childhood days - I see them like black and white newsreels - with splashes of colour from the fantasy comic world of heroes, spacemen and aliens found in Eagle comics - and later in Marvel and DC.    I can remember living in a world inside my head that was full of  heroes like Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future,

- Kemlo, the Space Cadet, a kid with his own spaceship - AWESOME!!

- Tom Swift, and his amazing adventures involving his own inventions......

Becke can remember so much more of her childhood than I can, I think it may be because she had younger brothers and sisters that kept her “rooted” in the present moment - my younger brother and I are nine years apart - two only children, as I recall.

I don’t feel too bad about that - perhaps I should. But I do know that my “virtual life” in my fantasy world developed into a gifted imagination - which has helped me a lot in life, by helping me see things from alternate perspectives - from “outside the box,” you might say.


I grew up (from birth to 15) in England, South London to be specific, in various suburbs with such typically “British” names as Brockley, Upper Norwood, and Penge, although my mother would always claim that we lived in Upper Sydenham (pronounced Siddenhum) - it was a class thing with her.

My family moved around various places in South London and Kent for most of my childhood - so I often was the “new boy” in class - so it was tough to make lasting friendships. We moved a lot because we lived in flats while I was growing up. We could never afford a single family home - those were either the luxury of the upper middle class or the “gift” of the government for those with a lower income. It had always seemed a little upside down to me as a kid that my friends, who my Mum and Dad assured me, came from “poorer” circumstances, had nice little houses with their own rooms and back gardens, while I had a tiny room in a flat with no separate garden.... I was quite sure that getting a “council house,” was not as demeaning as my parents made it out to be..

I was a chubby kid, and wasn’t very good at sports - nothing’s changed there. But as a kid it made me feel a little outcast and shy. So I used to play with a few close friends or I played with my imaginary “hero” friends. I liked them a lot better than the real ones anyway. My imaginary friends would never ask me if I wanted to play a game - then not pick me for their team....

My favorite games always involved me being some kind of hero - I liked masks, capes and gloves and anything that added realism to my secret identity. Don’t get me wrong, I did have friends who liked to act out these fantastic adventures with me - we’d lose ourselves for hours being these “invincible” avengers of justice. We’d wreak havoc among all the imaginary villains that would challenge our powers.

I used to love “Saturday Morning Pictures” - which was the British version of the kid’s matinee - where I’d sit through a bunch of cartoons and an invariably long and boring western film, waiting for the 10 minute serial episode of Commando Cody in “Radar Men from the Moon," or “Crash” Corrigan in the “Undersea Kingdom.”

As soon as the lights came up I’d rush home and put a box with eyeholes on my head and somehow attach the control unit from my train set to the front of my shirt, and spend the rest of the afternoon running and jumping into the air in my back garden -

“Look out baddies - it’s Commando Cody and his Rocket suit!!”


I lived my fantasies mostly in black and white until the arrival of colour comics from America - they were even more real - amazing!!

There were DC Comics with Superman, Batman & Robin, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman - and my personal favorites The Flash, The Atom, and the little known Metal Men (who to this day I owe for helping me pass a difficult science test). Because of that comic, I knew the melting points of various alloys, because The Metal Men’s weakness, (all heroes have them), were geared around that very issue.

They all were the coolest heroes EVER....

Then one day I was at the local newsagent and discovered the world of Marvel comics - OMG!!!

There was The Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Ant-Man, Giant Man, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, the list goes on and on - then I found my favorites amongst those - Iron Man and Thor........

So many super-heroes, so little time!!

Every month there seemed to be a new super-cool, super hero that I could add to my expanding imaginary world. 

Those were great days.....


I do remember my best friend from those days (just in case you think I NEVER had any) - his name was Michael O’Farrell and he lived at the end of our street - he was an Irish Roman Catholic - from a VERY Irish, and very Catholic family (lots of kids) for those days. His father seemed mean, although it might have just been his way. I know that he did not look too kindly on his son being friends with an English PROTESTANT boy - ironic now as I look back, but in those days I wasn’t even sure what a Catholic was - although I did know that we, so-called Protestants, were supposed to hate them, and vice versa....

In my childish understanding I thought that being Protestant just meant that you didn’t really believe in anything - it seemed that way - my parents didn’t go to church unless there was a funeral or a wedding - although my Dad definitely had a lot of Bibles that he never appeared to read!!! Being Catholic appeared to mean that you had more kids than you could handle so you yelled at them all the time!!

Michael and I were inseparable - he came on holiday with me a few times - we had such fun playing together. I was friends with him for several years, until we moved away. I hope he remembers me as well as I remember him. I wonder if he’s still around.

That takes me up to about age 10....... just like any good serial..... there’s much more to come. Stay Tuned............


Becke Davis said...

Oh, I LOVE this! I'm so glad you wrote this down!

dontcallmejessie said...

This was wonderful to read, Dad. Thank you for sharing!! Can't wait to read more. :) (And pssst.. you should pass this on to Ryan!)

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