Janesville60.1°

Superman—and supermom

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Rick Horowitz
February 24, 2010

Here’s to all the mothers who threw out all the comic books.


And the baseball cards—don’t forget the baseball cards. Or was it Dumpster Barbie that tore it for you?


Mom meant well. Really she did. And if her lifelong crusade for order turned out to clash with your own lifelong dream of unearned riches—well, that’s the way the Kryptonite crumbles.


You’re thinking Superman thoughts today—not to mention slightly murderous thoughts—because of the news from New York:


“A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman sold Monday for $1 million, smashing the previous record price for a comic book.”

The “first comic book featuring Superman” being, of course, Action Comics No. 1, from June of 1938, with the Man himself on the cover, lifting a full-grown automobile almost completely over his head! (This was before special effects.)


And a price, also on the cover, of 10 cents. Which, you’re surely noticing, is many, many zeroes short of a million bucks.


Which is the very point you’d be making right this minute to your mother, if only she were still around to receive another shipment of whine.


“Why’d you have to throw all my stuff out?” you’d be crying. “I never told you to throw it out!”


Leaving aside, for the moment, the fact that you never told her to throw anything out. Not the mint-condition Mickey Mantle, and not the droopy sweat socks with the stretched-out elastic.

It’s not as if you had a discriminating eye. As far as you were concerned, it all should have stayed right where it was, forever—every last seemingly useless scrap of it.


A problem, do you think, for a family living in a place whose walls were not made of elastic, stretched-out or otherwise? (This was before storage pods.)

Not your problem! Not now, anyway. Your problem now is that your mother tossed what could have been one of the primo collectibles stashes in all the universe. Your mother, and nearly every other mother, without so much as a moment’s thought about how valuable some of that garbage might be just a few decades later. If only they’d kept their hands off it, just like you and everyone else you knew kept telling them, then…


Then nothing.


Then that stuff would still be worthless. It’s the scarcity that makes it valuable!

In Superman’s case, for instance, the story said that, “There are only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 believed to be in existence.” Besides, this particular copy was in “very fine” condition—the kind of item that rarely goes on the market, the story said, which explains all those zeroes.


But if all the world’s mothers had hung onto all the world’s comic books, and baseball cards, and Barbies, and…


We’re talking landfill. Closet after dresser drawer after cigar box of utter worthlessness.


So that’s not really what you mean, is it? You don’t mean that you wish that all the world’s mothers had hung onto all that stuff. You mean that you wish that all the world’s mothers except yours had kept right on tossing all that stuff, while your mother had held onto every bit of it.
You wish that your mother—only your mother—had been able to gaze into the future and, seeing tomorrow’s treasures in yesterday’s trash, had somehow stayed her hand. You’d be rich!

Instead of, say, super-delusional.


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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