Comics by John L. Neel

I never knew my paternal Grandfather, Emmette Conwell Neel--he died before I was born. My Grandmother Neel, Myrtle Wicks Williams Neel, lived in Geiger Alabama. When I was very young, my maternal grandparents, Barney Emmett Lee and Evie Leigh Johnson Lee, also lived in Geiger. Later, when the Geiger Yellow Front Store closed, my grandfather Lee, who ran the store, moved to Berry Alabama to another store.

We visited Pawpaw and Grandmamma Lee in Berry often, usually weekend trips. We would alternate trips between Berry and Geiger. From Birmingham, these drives are still long, but back then, they were even longer, driving two-lane roads all the way. I hated the drives and wasn't much for being away from my friends even for a weekend. Geiger was more fun. Because my Dad was one of five kids, who all settled in Alabama and Mississippi, there was a load of cousins there. Every visit was a family reunion, so we weren't just cousins, we were friends.

Mom's brother and sister lived in Virginia and rarely visited. All Berry had for me was Comic Books.

Next door to Bawpaw's Yellow Front Store was Lunsford's Drug Store, two of the four stores on one side of Depot Street. Just inside the front door, on the left, was a rack of comics. Every time we visited, I bought the newest copies of Fantastic 4, Spider-man, Iron-man, X-Men, Hulk, and Thor. They were a cheap diversion for a bored kid in the little town of Berry, worth every bit of the 12¢ each to my parents to keep me quiet and occupied.

When the Berry Yellow Front Store closed and Bawpaw opened a country store on Highway 18, I would still visit Mr. Lunsford and his store for the comics until he retired and closed the doors.

I kept them all in a stack, about a foot and a half deep, on the bottom right shelf of the bookcase behind the door of the room Jim, Don, and I grudgingly shared in the Wahoma house.

None of them would be highly collectible today. All were well-read and worn by a kid who dreamed of being Peter Parker, Johnny Storm, or Thor. I know I had the first Spider-man, some of the first Fantastic 4, Iron-man, X-Men, and Thor, which even in their used condition could be worth hundreds of dollars. Certainly, they would be worth a lot more then the pennies I spent on them.

When I became a teen and girls, cars, and sporting events became more important, I threw them all away.

What treasures I discarded.

It was not my last mistake.