memories of Friday afternoons forty years ago

The Forbidden Planet in its original location in the late 1980s/early 1990s

My parents, even though they really couldn’t afford it, sent me to private Montessori schools throughout my grammar-school years. From first through fifth grades, I went to New Rochelle Academy, but when they fired two of their best teachers (both of whom were huge influences on me as a child, Tina Roach and Marie Captain), my parents protested by switching me to another school, Halstead in Yonkers, for sixth through eighth grades.

(Neither school exists anymore. NRA closed when one half of the married couple who ran it died, and Halstead closed for reasons I never found out about less than a decade after I graduated eighth grade from there.)

Anyhow, the reason why I’m telling you all this is that Halstead let the kids out early on Fridays — probably because most of the enrollment were upper-class kids whose parents would weekend in the Hamptons or some such, and they needed to get home early. At the time, my mother was working at NYU, running a project at the Bobst Library. I had recently started collecting comic books, and right near NYU was one of the largest comic stores in the city at the time, the Forbidden Planet at Broadway and E. 12th Street.

So on Friday afternoons, after I got home early from school, I would hop on the subway and take it down to 14th Street, go to the Planet and get that week’s stash, and maybe go downstairs and troll through the back issues to see if there was anything I wanted, and then meet up with my mother at NYU and we’d go to Swenson’s on the corner of Mercer and W. 4th Street to have ice cream before taking the subway back home.

That was a truly glorious time. I was just getting into Marvel comics then, and every month I would eagerly await the new adventures of the X-Men by Chris Claremont & Dave Cockrum, the Fantastic Four by John Byrne, the Avengers by Jim Shooter & Bob Hall, Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson, Power Man & Iron Fist by Jo Duffy & Kerry Gammill, Thor by Walt Simonson, Iron Man by Denny O’Neill & Luke McDonnell, Captain America by J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Zeck, the Hulk by Bill Mantlo & Sal Buscema, Conan by Bruce Jones & John Buscema, and Spider-Man in three different titles by Roger Stern & John Romita Jr., Bill Mantlo & Ed Hannigan, and J.M. DeMatteis & Kerry Gammill, and lots more. After I bought them at the Planet, I’d sort them into reading order, and start them at Swenson’s, then finish them on the subway ride home.

Best of all, though, was that I got to have ice cream with my Mommy.

Forty years on, both my grammar schools and Swenson’s are long gone. (Swenson’s old location is now Spring Cafe Aspen, which has “juices & smoothies, plus health-conscious breakfasts and light lunches.”) The Planet is still there, albeit across the street in a smaller space. And my mother only worked for that one year at NYU, going from there to work as an editor in library publishing for fifteen years, and then being a freelance writer and teacher until she retired. I actually grew up to write some of those characters, albeit in prose, having written short stories and novels featuring Spider-Man, Thor, the Hulk, the X-Men, and the Silver Surfer.

This, by the way, was just prompted by Elyse Reyes on Facebook mentioning that she’d worked at the Bobst Library for a time, and just the mention of the place prompted a cascade of memories of those magnificent Friday afternoons with The Mom. And the rather devastating realization that this was all forty years ago. How time do fly……

2 thoughts on “memories of Friday afternoons forty years ago

  1. Dude, that is totally the Forbidden Planet I remember… from when I first moved to NYC in the early 80s… when I lived over on West 4th Street, between Bank and West 12th, a great place to give directions to. Couple of comics at Forbidden Planet, a slice at Ray’s on 6th and 11th… good times…

  2. I spent my youth going to the many locations Of that store, I don’t believe I ever went to that one though May have been at the time I was at boarding school

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