Friday, June 17, 2016

A Father's Day Memory

    I wanted to build muscles and I wanted to be strong

    According to the ad you wrote, it wouldn't take that long

    Just use our product like we said and work out every day

    And make sure that you keep receipts to show that you have paid.


I am reminded of this story because of Father's Day. I was never close to my father and he wasn't in my life nearly long enough. There was, however, one memory that stands out to me.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to read and later trade comic books with my friends. We would all talk about the latest offers on the inside of the last page of our latest issue. I longed to order everything from a Superman ring to the glasses that they said would give you x-ray vision. There were so many promises made in those ads and I believed all of them.

When I was in the fourth or fifth grade, I finally found a product that I couldn't resist. The product was called Lever-Bars if my memory is correct. I know that it is close to the name if not exact. I can't always remember what I had for breakfast, but I do remember placing this order nearly sixty years ago.

I remember the day that my order arrived and how disappointed I was. Things never looked as good as they were portrayed in the ads. I was expecting a set of weights that I could use to build my muscles and made me stronger. What I got was something far below my expectations.

They sent me what looked like a section of broom handle and a brick with a hole in the center. I was to insert the handle through the brick and adjust it with a set screw. The farther I put the brick to the end of the broom handle, the more it would seem to weigh. I could use it as a dumbbell and increase the weight as I got stronger. I was using leverage and that is where they got the name Lever-Bars.

All of this for only $32.95 divided into twelve monthly payments. That was a pretty steep investment for a nine year old in the fifties.

I worked out with this contraption every day for several months. I would save my  allowance and what money I could earn doing chores at home and for the neighbors in order to make the payments. Shortly before I made my last payment I  received a rather official looking letter addressed to me. Upon opening and reading the letter I found out that I was being sued. The company in the comic books was threatening to take a nine year old to court.

I remember that I was scared to death at the prospect of going to court and then spending my life in prison. I believed every threat that they made. I decided that the only thing I could do was to ask my dad for help. I had never done that before and wasn't sure how it would pan out.

I found him sitting in his favorite chair in the living room. I told him that I needed his help and climbed up on his lap. I told him about everything. I told him that I had ordered the weights on my own and I had made every payment on time.

I found out that he was easier to talk to than I thought he would be. He asked if I had kept the receipts for the money orders that I had used to make the payments. I told him that I had and quickly ran to my room to get them. Dad had me write a letter to these people and tell them that a nine year old had saved every receipt and could prove that I had paid for the product.

I never heard from them again, but I had learned a valuable lesson that had nothing to do with the company that had threatened to take me to court. I learned that I could ask my father for help and I learned that I could trust him.

I guess my rambling is over. This was my Father's Day memory.