Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Remember Charles Atlas?

Muscular Man

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDititalphotos.net

Anybody remember Charles Atlas?  He was a popular body builder  during the 1940s and ’50s. He used to run ads in teenage magazines and newspapers advertising a device for building a glorious looking body.  Remember those?  Charles Atlas, with his Arnold Schwarzenegger  type build, was shown holding the world up in his right hand.  The ad also featured a 97 pound weakling being harassed on the beach by a big muscle bound bruiser who took the skinny lad’s girl friend away from him.

Well, for most of my life growing up, I was that 97 pound weakling.  When I was a teenager I was tall and skinny.  One of Dad’s farm hands used to kid me about that.  He said if I stood in the sun sideways, I wouldn’t even cast a shadow.  He was right.  I had  no problems of the bully taking my girl friend from me, because I was so skinny and awkward, I could never attract any girls to have taken away in the first place.  I was so gangly and awkward that I never participate in sports because I was always stumbling over my own feet.

I used to read those ads, and one day decided to do something about my skinny plight.  For a nominal amount of money—I don’t remember how much—you could order a system from Mr. Atlas that would supposedly build up your muscles to look like those of his and the big bruiser who stole the weakling’s girl friend.

I saved up my money and ordered one.  I don’t even remember, now, what the system consisted of, except that when it came, I remember thinking I’d been ripped off.  Dad agreed, and chided me for wasting my money.  I figured it would have taken half a lifetime using that system to build up my muscles to the degree I was hoping for.  Besides that, after using it less than a week, my muscles were so sore I couldn’t move, so I abandoned that project.  More money down a rat hole due to a bit of youthful foolishness.  On reflection, however, I guess it must have been working to a degree, or my muscles wouldn’t have been so sore. (Please don’t mistake the photo in upper left of this blog to be that of Charles Atlas and his device; it’s not.  It’s a stock photo from FreeDigitalphotos.net.)

My memories of being skinny also brought to mind one of my favorite comic books.  How many of you remember the “Archie” comic books.  One of the characters was named Jughead who was also tall and skinny.  In addition, there was Archie, the main character; Reggie, Archie’s nemesis, who was always scheming ways to steal his [Archie’s] would be girlfriend, Veronica, away from him.  Veronica, a dazzling brunette, was the most popular girl in school who every boy wanted for his girlfriend.  She really did kind of like Archie, but would tease him by giving a little attention to Reggie from time to time.

Then there was the blond Betty.  She was the quintessential “everybody’s friend,” but never had a real boyfriend of her own.   The kind of character Eve Arden used to play in the movies.  I never could figure why she didn’t have boys flocking around her as well, because, in my mind, Betty was every bit as pretty as Veronica.  Oh, well.

What I remember about Jughead, was that although he was thought of as not being quite as smart as the rest of the group, he possessed a certain degree of mature insight that the rest of the gang didn’t seem to have.  Maybe that was why he was not considered as smart as the rest.  He was too far ahead of them, which made him not as hip.

Another thing I remember about Jughead was he that appeared never to change his clothes.  He always wore the same outfit day after day.  One time, one of his peers asked him if he ever changed clothes.  Jughead’s answer was, “Sure.  I have seven of these outfits, one for each day of the week.”

The movie channel stimulated more of my memory banks a while back when I tuned in and came upon the Glenn Miller Story.  That music brought back a host of memories of when I was a kid.  I remember listening to him on the radio playing such tunes as:  String of Pearls, In the Mood, Little Brown Jug, Pennsylvania 5000, just to name a few. His records were on all the juke boxes in restaurants and hamburger joints as well. His arrangements were a nice blend and balance of instruments that were pleasing to both the ear and one’s central nervous system; unlike so much of the music we hear today that turns my central nervous system inside out.  There is an old saying that says: “You can’t go back,” but boy, I sure would like to go back to that old kind of music.

If nostalgia is your thing, you can click on the free download button at upper right on this page and receive a free copy (while they last) of Buddy…His Trials and Treasures.  I think you’ll like Buddy.  He has a way of creeping into your heart.

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Copyright 2013 Will Edwinson