Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Railroad Train to Heaven, Part Two: in which Arnold Schnabel meets Mr. Adam Strange

This installment of Arnold Schnabel’s memoir picks up exactly where the previous installment ended. Dateline: June 1963, Cape May, NJ.

Also staying here is my cousin Bert and his wife and three children, all of them squeezed into one small apartment of my aunts’ shambling big old house. How odd that they leave their nice three-bedroom semi-detached home in Lawncrest to cram into these two cramped and stuffy un-airconditioned rooms with a tiny kitchenette and call it their vacation. But I suppose my aunts give them a good deal on the rent, as they do for me and Mom. The one boy, Kevin, sits and reads comic books for much of the day. Nearly every morning he goes to Wally’s cigar store and pool room on Washington Street and trades in his already-used comics (the titles on the covers snipped off) for a fewer number of new used comics. There is some complicated financial formula involved, but the upshot is that for about a quarter a batch he seems always to have at least a half-dozen new used comics to read and obsessively re-read until he wearies of them and trades them in.
He’s an unprepossessing lad, pale, un-athletic, taciturn. I have attempted to engage him in conversation, just to be a good avuncular sort, and I have failed miserably. However, I have taken a liking if not to the boy then to his comic books, and now each day I sit with him on the porch and read them. I wait patiently till he finishes the first one — he won’t let me look at any until he’s “finished” with it. But when he does finish one he passes it magisterially over to me. After we have read all that day's comics we read them all again, but this time more slowly and luxuriously, savoring each word and image.
And so I have been introduced to this new heroic and fantastic world. {See Arnold’s poem, “The Hawkman and I” in the Appendix. — Editor.} I find this very soothing. My own world these past months has grown far too fantastic in itself. It’s a serene pleasure to read the adventures of this Dr. Strange, whose universe makes even mine look fairly mundane. Or another fellow named Strange, Adam Strange, who periodically gets transported by something called a Zeta-Beam to some entire other planet where he is a rather dashing gallant in a skintight suit with a jet pack on his back and a ray gun on his belt. And, of course, he has an attractive girlfriend.
I would like to be this Adam Strange fellow. If only I could find this Zeta-Beam to transport me to some other world. Oh, but that’s right, I have been transported to other worlds. The only thing is I didn’t like much what I found on those worlds, and I had neither jet pack nor ray gun, nor, needless to add, an attractive girlfriend awaiting me there.

(Beam up over to here for Part Three. Turn to the right hand side of this page for links to other episodes of Railroad Train to Heaven, as well as to many of his fine poems. All material presented courtesy of the Arnold Schnabel Society. Nihil Obstat, Bishop J. Jonah Graham, SJ).


Pierce Inverarity said...

Ah - Dr. Strange
Picturesque As Always.
I remain curious about the provenance. The Schnabel Society seems to have given you quite the treasure trove.

Dan Leo said...

Arnold Schnabel's mother, Mrs. Alma Schnabel, a year or so before her death in 1980 entrusted all of Arnold's papers in perpetuity to the Arnold Schnabel Society, a group of aficionados who met twice a month at the Oak Lane Library to read and discuss Arnold's works. It is to these good people that we owe our thanks for allowing me to delve into and share with the world what you so accurately describe as a treasure trove.

Anonymous said...

Deises ist ein wenig swer, aber ich denke du schreibst:"objective possibility of professing the true faith without error" und das ist zugelassen von dem "Arnold Schnabel Society."
Und warum vertrauen sie Ihnen zu?
Du hast geschossen "ex cathedera" mit
nur das wenigste von Autorität.
Ich habe die rufnummer von Seine Heiligkeit Ratzinger. Würden Sie mich mögen, ihn zu rufen?