Oh Sweet Sweet Basil…..

Isn’t it amazing how certain items can evoke a whirl of memories? I recently checked out ” The Original Art of Basil Wolverton”(759.13 WOL) and I experienced a flashback to a very particular time of my youth.
I love the humor and the wit Wolverton can give you with just one black and white cartoon of his. They are so grotesquely silly. The book made me reflect on my old paper route I had when I was 10– it was a love hate relationship I had with my “route” . I had 26 customers on a two street circuit, Morningside Avenue and Maynard Drive. Morningside was a very steep hill on which I zig zagged down– delivering papers to where ever my customers desired the paper.( a luxury that is not allowed in today’s deliveries) On collection day I would go into the local Drugstore(yes, we called the pharmacy a drug store–) and buy the latest issue of Mad Magazine. I would hide the magazine in my dirty canvas newspaper carrier bag, knowing my mother would never look in it and find my stash. I would run with great speed and diligence to shave time off of my normal routine to squirrel some secret time away mid route.Often it entailed climbing three flights of stairs in mutli-family houses–however, I was pretty good at angling my throw from the base of the first floor and landing it in front of the third floor’s door! Off I would go running and flying to get to the my secret spot, the “city steps” which joined the two hilly streets. For those of you that do not know what “city steps” are– they are these long cement stair cases that the city built into the steep inclines to join the “neighborhood blocks or streets” . The steps are usually secluded wooded and sandwiched between the last houses at the bottom of the giant hill. It was here that I would climb half way– and pull my delightful read out of my bag. I could sit there in peace and read the newspaper and the magazine. A few stolen moments of happiness, laughter and quiet! Mad Magazine packed with its humor and satire. Spy vs Spy by Antonio Prohia, The Lighter Side by Dave Berg and who is better than Al Jaffe and the classic Fold in Page?– remember Wacky Packy cards? The spoofs painted by Norman Suanders were influenced by Basil Wolverton’s art– I still have a few of my old stickers.(most likely the stick of pink bubble gum too and I bet it still would taste the same 🙂
The book brought me back to a wonderful memory that had been packed away. Even the smell of the new thick ink from the book brought me instantly back to that paper route.

If you enjoy the lighter side of life and enjoy a comic or two– here are few chuckles on me:

The Original Art of Basil Wolverton From the Collection of Glenn Bray.(759.13 WOL) enjoy Lena the Hyena, Powerhouse Pepper and many other hilarious illustrations

The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925-1975 (741.5 New) If you ever have just browsed the New Yorker Magazine for the cartoons then this book is made for you.

Hell of A Way to Run a Railroad by Peter Arno(741.5 ARN)  more comedic art from the New Yorker

Theories of Everything by Roz Chast (741.569 CHA)  Roz once wrote,”When a cartoon makes me laugh,  or when anything makes me laugh, to me it’s magic.”

Hirschfeld. On Line by Al Hirschfeld(741.597) This book is packed with amazing and satirical caricatures.


Lena This post is brought to by Audra, retired Waterbury Republican American Newpaper carrier and current Reference & Adult Services Librarian at the OWL

3 thoughts on “Oh Sweet Sweet Basil…..

  1. I like this post. Thanks for sharing! I like the feeling of finding a secret hidden spot to read… it’s like a mini-vacation. :o)

  2. Ah, the joys of paper routes … “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” … ain’t that the truth! Those pre-dawn days, out before the rest of the world awoke, and then again in the late afternoon, paper routes gave me my first business sense (not that it has panned out to make me wealthy or anything!) and a strong sense of meeting obligations. It was fun to have my own money at 10 years old and beyond. I did read those papers every day, and their content was quite shocking for a naive little kid growing up in the 1960s and during the Vietnam War. It made me a reader and a news junkie, addictions that afflict me to this day.
    As for Mad Magazine, perhaps I am not alone in thinking that it was more than just a cartoon/joke/satire mag, but gave a real education about society, trends, and the absurdities of life. A lot of it was over my head, but I really liked Dave Berg’s work and more. I was also an avid collector of the Mad compilations back then. I read a copy a year or so ago and I must say that either it changed or I’ve outgrown it 😉 But as a kid, I was at the drug store every month picking up my copy and devouring it before I got home.
    Great blog entry, and it really brought back some fun memories. ~Farfel

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