The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


As you will see in the preceding weeks, "Uncle" Gene Kousek was one of the best (if not the best) when it cam to finding old comic books. But as we explained a couple of weeks ago, Gene wasn't just interested in comics, but also old paper, especially "illustrated" paper. Gene was always on the lookout for magazines with illustrations by Joseph Leyendecker, Maxfield Parrish, Arthur Rackham, and Norman Rockwell, as well as Frazetta, Fine, Eiser, and Raymond. Gene was Regional Sales Manager for a major tobacco company (I think it was R.J. Reynolds), and throughout this travels always hit a number of Antique stores, book stores and resale shops in the midwest. Some of them became prementant "contacts", and would often call Gene whenever some nice old paper came in. Gene also frequented the bigger flea markets, especially Seven Mile Fair in Wisconsin. And he would comb through The Antique Trader.

A widow out of Iowa advertised that she was selling some old pulp magazines that belonged to her late husband. Gene called her immediately, and managed to obtain a few of the issues, noting that they were all #1's. He sent off his check, and in his accompanying letter mentioned that he was also interested in comic books. The 1/2 dozen or so magazines arrived in two huge boxes a few weeks later. With the magazines she included all the camic books she could find that her husband had accumulater with a note stating "pay me what you think they are worth". Right on top of the first box was a White Indian #1, an all Frazetta issue. Gene was ecstatic, to say the least and sent off another, heftier check right away. The late departed husband was a number one collector, and every comic (over 400) was a number one issue from the late 1940's and early 1950's. One day he was contacted by another widow who had recently moved to the area from Kentucky who had a number of early to mid 1940's comics she was looking to sell.

He went to the woman's house to look at them, and offered her $400 for the lot. He contacted her a few days later, and was told that an antique dealer "contacts" mentioned to him that she was recently outbid on a very nice lot of comics from the early 1940's. On questioning the dealer Gene realized that the lot was the very same he had bid $400, then $550. In affect he was bidding against himself-- as the dealer had Gene in mind when she made the offer. Gene told the dealer not to bother overbidding the $550. The books included a number of Captain America's, Captain Marvel's, Batman's, and all of the Master Comics together. They were beautiful beyond words! But here is where the story really gets bizarre! Before moving to Chicago the woman had, had a garage sale, and the comics were displayed. She sold only four of the close to 200 books. The rest came up to Chicago with her, and before selling the books to Gene she decided to keep one as a remembrace of her husband. It was a SPECIAL EDITION with Captain Marvel. But the tihig we're all wondering about to this very day it: What were the four books she sold!

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Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 3 #60 February 21, 2001 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.