Last weekend’s yard sales provided me with several treasures, including a batch of cheap comics, racquetball rackets and an interesting book.
As I browsed through one neighborhood sale, I came to an old bookseller who had set up in the yard of a friend. He had lots of neat old books, including a few old Westerns that seemed really intriguing. But then I turned to a new table and saw “Strange Creatures of the Snow and Other Great Mysteries.”
Studying the book, I was sure it was a “brother” publication to one of my favorite books as a kid, “Mysteries, Monsters and Untold Secrets.” That book was purchased by my brother or sister through a “Reading Is Fundamental” program. It wasn’t long before its fascinating cover grabbed my eyes.
A U.F.O, the Loch Ness Monster, an Easter Island monolith and Bigfoot all on one cover! Talk about a thrilling concept for a pre-teen.
Inside, I learned about the strange world we live in — complete with sightings of all those guys as well as the mystery of Oak Island, ghost ships, modern pterodactyls and other phenomena. This book, and a daily dose of Scooby-Doo, fueled my imagination and drove me to further explore the world of the strange.
In fact, over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of books on “weird” phenomena. I haven’t read many of them in years, but I like to keep them around — partly for nostalgia’s sake and partly “just in case.”
All those fond memories of an unknown world swarmed over me as I stared at “Strange Creatures” it looked as if its cover was illustrated by the same artist. It turns out that the two books aren’t related, but boy, do they look good together. (“Mysteries” is by George Laycock, cover illo by Ted Hanke, Scholastic Book Services, 1978; “Strange” is by Edward F. Dolan Jr., “Great Mysteries of the Ice and Snow” was its original title, Weekly Reader Books, 1985.)
Years later, I’m still intrigued by all “the unknown,” but I certainly look at it with a more level head. In that sense, the old Scooby-Doo mysteries helped me more than anything because in them, there was always a reasonable explanation in (if you’ll pardon the “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” swipe) strange, the bizarre and the unexpected.