My Thoughts

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Insider is confused over all the fuss about bringing slot machines to Worcester County. He can’t understand why certain people are having a hissyfit that the bandits are probably coming here. Hell, Ocean City had them all over the place in the 40s and the resort prospered, and nobody seemed to suffer, except maybe the vacationer who went home with somewhat emptier pockets. That happens today when visitors leave Ocean City as well. The old guy considers slot machines stupid, a long drawn-out way of giving your money to the casino, which is already rich and more than likely owned by an outfit at west in the desert somewhere. The way it works is you take a $20 bill, convert it into quarters, dimes, nickels, or whatever, and put the change in the machine to be collected later by the casino management. That’s supposed to be fun. The old guy would much rather take his $20 bill over to the Boardwalk and use the whole thing to buy a small fry at Thrasher’s, a burger at the Alaska Stand and a slice of pizza at Tony’s and then take it home so he can have some water out of the faucet to go along with it.

The old guy’s generation was one of readers. Everybody then, and those still living in this dot com world today, are avid readers. Now there are teachers who will take credit for the Old Turkey reading frenzy, but the fact is, all of those 70 and older were self-taught readers. They learned their reading skills from comic books and the newspaper comic strips. There was a time when any daily newspaper worth reading carried two full pages of nothing but comic strips, all in black and white. Sunday editions carried full sections of comics all in color. Kids who weren’t even old enough to start school devoured these pages, daily and Sunday. It didn’t take them long to realize the balloon over the character’s head contained words the comic hero was actually saying. If only they could read, they could understand what the guy was talking about. Gradually, over months and years, they began to understand certain words and this led them to recognize other words in the balloon. Big words were ignored, not worth interpreting. A general idea of the conversation was all that was necessary. Anyone over 70 will recall those days but few will remember the volumes of reading material they absorbed. Do you remember Dagwood? Tillie the Toiler? Toonerville Trolley? Snuffy Smith? Joe Palooka? Dick Tracy? The Phantom? Maggie? Nancy? Smiling Jack? Buck Rogers? Captain Marvel? Jungle Jim? Lulu? Flash Gordon? Tarzan? Orphan Annie?

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