Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The Super Suit
Mom asked me, "So what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?"
My answer was immediate. "I want a Superman suit!"
It was 1953 and I was in the first grade. Superman was a favorite show of mine. I watched it every week with my parents on our 19" 1950 RCA console television. I don't remember what else I asked for that year, but I got my Superman suit.
There weren't any Superman costumes available--or if there were my mom didn't know about them or couldn't afford one--so she made it. When I saw it on Christmas morning it was--hot dang!--a genuine Superman suit all right, with one important difference. Mom had never seen the color Superman comic books. All she'd ever seen was the television character, so she sewed the costume in shades of gray and black.
It's been a lot of years and memory of the actual costume is dim. There aren't any old photos, but I remember the top was a sweatshirt onto which she had sewn an "S" logo in a shield. It seems that I didn't think it looked that much like the one I'd seen on TV, but it was OK. It was my Superman suit, cape and all!
When we went back to school the day after New Year's Day, 1954, the teacher said, "You can bring a favorite Christmas toy to school tomorrow and show the other boys and girls." I knew exactly what I wanted to show them.
We got up individually for show and tell. I don't remember much about the other kids and their toys except that classmate Chris's dad owned a wholesale toy distribution business. So Chris had every damn popular toy made.* Grrr. I hated him.
I got up in front of the class and took off my shirt. Underneath it I had on my Superman shirt and I was really proud! I stuck my scrawny little chest out a half inch. At recess one of the cute girls in the class came up to me while I was still wearing the costume and invited me to sit on the windowsill. She plopped herself onto my lap. Of all my childhood memories that one really sticks out. Talk about feeling really super.
I guess some of the other boys were jealous. They came over and one of them gave me a shove. "Think you're super, huh?" one of them said. Then they all ganged up and pummeled me until the teacher broke it up.
I learned a couple of valuable lessons that day in the first grade. If you look cool girls may like you. If you look cool to girls then other boys will hate you. If you want to look like Superman you'd better be prepared to act like Superman, and not get the crap kicked out of you by the guys.
Despite that I had a lot of fun in that Superman suit, even jumping off the roof of the garage to see if I could fly. I wonder how many kids did that? Must've been a lot, because there was a 16mm short film shown to us in school called Only Superman Can Fly, which featured Superman actor George Reeves explaining why we couldn't jump off roofs or tall buildings and such. Well, duh. I already knew that from my sore ankles and the ass-blistering I got from Mom.
This Christmas Sally is giving me a DVD set of the first season of the Superman TV show. It has been many years since I've seen these old black and white episodes, and I'll be telling you at some point what I think of them.
*Another of my classmates was the grandson of a candy maker. The family owned a local candy factory. Talk about rubbing shoulders with the elite of childhood fantasies…all of the toys you'd want and all of the candy.