A Legend of a Different Sort
My dad, who passed away a few years ago, and whom I think about often, was a lifelong railroad man. I've already chronicled a couple of my railroad adventures and will undoubtedly write about more of them in the future. Railroads played a big part in my youth.
When I was, I suppose twelve or thirteen years old, I discovered magazines. I was selling the Grand Forks Herald in the streets of downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks and making decent money for a twelve-year old. Fifty or so cents a day could keep an adult alive in those days, if he didn't mind living in a camp down by the river.
At times, after I'd sold my papers, I'd walk down to the train station, to a very well-stocked newsstand across the street. I liked to peruse Hot Rod and Rod & Custom magazines, take a look at Argosy and some of the other men's adventure magazines. Mechanix Illustrated was one of my favorites. I still remember Tom McCahill's road tests of the various new cars, in which there was his signature photo of himself, a big man, or his (large) dog Boji, lying in the open trunk of the car he was reviewing to indicate the adequacy of the storage space. Of course, the technology fan that I am today has its roots in these magazines, as well as Popular Science and others.
There were the science fiction monthlies, the horror magazines (whose names fade into obscurity), the crime magazines and, of course, the girlie mags.
Kids my age weren't supposed to wander to the far end of the magazine racks. The little "over 21" sign was supposed to keep kids away from the fledgling Playboy and the many others at the end of the racks.
I didn't let it stop me. The clerks were usually busy helping customers, working on stock or just reading a magazine. Some probably just didn't care. Occasionally, I'd step a couple of feet beyond the limits and leaf through this girlie magazine or that. The curiosity of a twelve-year-old boy is a very real.
Scantily-dressed women will always attract the looks of young boys and men. From the girls with torn dresses, shrinking in horror from the long, curved fangs of a bug-eyed monster on the cover of a sci-fi pulp to the women in red or black lingerie posed in the girlie magazines, to the now almost forgotten nudist camp magazines, only one name survives to this day.
Her photos have appeared in several issues of Playboy magazine, including a feature as Playmate of the Month in the January, 1955 issue, and had hundreds of photos published in various men's magazines in those few years. Photos in and out of then very risque lingerie and in poses suggesting both kinky sex and pure feminine beauty.
Bettie Page, at this writing, is still alive, but just. She was being treated for pneumonia, was about to be released when she suffered a sudden heart attack that's left her in critical condition in an LA hospital. This according to a DenverPost.com story, here.
Bettie is 85 now, and has lived in relative obscurity for decades, until granting some interviews in recent years.
I, of course, wish Bettie a full recovery.
But, I've outgrown all that stuff now. Like hell, I have!
Addendum: Ms Page passed away yesterday, December 11. Rest easy, Bettie. You'll be remembered for a long, long time.