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By Pat Gracey
contributing writer 

The funny paper man

The Spirit of Tehachapi


January 11, 2023

Pat Gracey.

When I was about 5 and 6 years old (in 1933 and 1934) I was learning to read and could figure out printed words. On Sunday morning, about 10 a.m., a man came on the radio and read the comics to me. Oh, how good he was. He made it sound so real. Later on, as I read better, I'd say to my brother, "He left out a line!" My brother told me he had gone over his time and was hurrying before the program was over.

I remember "The Captain and the Kids" by Rudolph Dirks. We just called it, The Katzenjammer Kids. They had twin boys named Hans and Fritz who were very naughty and received lots of spankings. The Captain had gout sometimes and swore a lot. It's easy to swear on paper. Just a lot of capital letters and exclamation marks. We knew it was cussing because their Mama always said, "Himmel!" when he said those words. My brother told me it meant "Heavens."

My brother liked Flash Gordon on the planet of Mongo. They had to watch out for the deadly rays from the planet Mars. Also, there was a mean emperor named Ming the Merciless they had to watch out for, as well. Flash was a good looking blonde man and his girlfriend, Dale Arden, was very pretty. Kids are too sophisticated these days to believe it when Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov hop into their space ship and take off without any oxygen or space suits, or even some sort of weight to keep them from floating off into space without any gravity to hold them down. Still, we enjoyed it, and the artwork by comic Alex Raymond was so impressive.

As we advanced in age, just a few years, we left the Funny Paper Man and enjoyed the comics by ourselves. I remember one story, certainly not a comic story but so interesting. The artwork on Prince Valiant, by Hal Foster, was so good that one would hate to toss out the Sunday paper. It seemed to need saving.

Prince Valiant was a Knight in King Arthur's Court and fought, always for the good side. He had a girlfriend who was referred to as the Fair Eleta, I think. Fair, of course, meaning very pretty, not nothing to write home about.

The boys liked the comic strip called Joe Palooka. He was a prize fighter boxer by Ham Fisher. It was a well known piece, though. I just wasn't interested in boxing. However, I did know about Joe Louis who was Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1937 until 1948. I listened to his last fight for the Championship, which he lost. He was so broken hearted. Some history was easy for us as children as Joe Louis was heavyweight champion and Roosevelt was always President (1933 -1945).

There were many, many comic strips that we liked: Tillie the Toiler, Gasoline Alley, Brenda Starr, Reporter, Maggie and Jiggs (Bringing Up Father), and one that has endured from its beginning in 1930 by artist/cartoonist, Chic Young, Blondie.

Blondie was a "drop dead gorgeous" lady who fell for Dagwood and married him. He wasn't handsome but perhaps the eyes of love saw him as her prince charming.

Their first child was born in 1939 and the proud parents named him Alexander, but always called him an endearing name: "Baby Dumpling" until he was being teased about his name and they began calling him Alexander.

Their daughter, Cookie, was born in 1941 and if she ever had another more officious name I missed that issue. In fact, I missed many off and on years of Blondie comic strips. One must remember this whole family are on paper.

Chic Young passed away at age 72 in 1973. I notice the comic strip is continuing with his grandson, Dean Young and his assistants. It was not the end of Blondie, however, she has kept her waist line and her beautiful blonde hair, as well and her children seem to have aged very slowly; now just teenagers.

Dagwood, made fame throughout the country with his "Dagwood Sandwiches." My brother used to try to make a Dagwood Sandwich but could never attain the altitude that old Dag could.

Three cheers for the long ago Funny Paper Man.

Three cheers for Dagwood Sandwiches.


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