The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


Anybody who's ever been in old Acme bookstore has a story to tell. You might have just been in there one time, but you had to walk away with a story to tell. And usually the story centered around Noel Roy. Roy was the older senior partner of the store, a curmudgeonly old book man who seen it all, and his deep-set eyes would stare out of the deep sockets seemingly to pierce your very soul. His business had survived the depression, and he like other bookmen from their era had said that they actually flourished in that period. It seemed people always had enough money to buy books even in the roughest of times. And he loved to ramble -- on almost any subject, but mostly about books and the "boys" at City Hall. At the drop of the hat Roy would launch into a tirade on politics and politicians and there feeble attempts to run the city of Chicago. He also had more than a few choice words about national politics as well..

Back around 1967 I really had the hots to obtain as much Buck Rogers stuff as I could lay my hands on. I called Acme to ask if they had any Buck Rogers Big-Little-Books. Roy answerd the phone and I asked about the B.L.B.'s. Roy's answer: "Oranges are a dime, Banana's a nickel, and potatoes 5 for a $1 -- bring a shopping bag", and promptly hung up. It was his way of saying " I don't take phones inquitres Jack, if you're really interested in buying anything come to the store" Did I say that Noel Roy loved to ramble -- well even his ramblings were more like tirades. And fire and brimstone sparkled in his eyes -- I think he would have made a great preacher -- like Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter! But one thing about Noel Roy, if you spent money he liked you, and if you could put up with his ramblings he liked you even more; and it was always Roy who would pipe up when you were making a purchase " Be sure to give him a discount, Sam, he's a good customer". I learned early on that when buying something from Acme it was always a good idea to make sure Noel Roy was in the store.

. Which brings me to William Ostfeldt, Bookdealer. One of the things I found about Bill was that it was always a good idea to make your purchases at the end of the month, and I finally figured it was because the rent was due. Try and get an old Batman comic at a good price from Bill at the beginning of the month and he'd all but throw you out of the store, but when it came close to time to pay the rent-- boy was he willing to let go of stuff, almost piling it on as you left the premises. The funny thing is that a long after Ostfeldt's store closed in 1970, there were frequent Ostfeldt sightings on the North side of Chicago. Mike Royko even wrote a column about him after encountering him bent over with back pains. We all thought it had more to do with the young oriental girl he was seen with on numerous occasions. I talked to Rick Vetone of Variety last month and he stated he saw Ostfeldt recently -- with a young oriental chick hanging off his arm. Didn't surprise me none!

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Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 3 #57 January 31, 2001 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.