Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Life With Comic Books: Part 20


When I got the phone call from my wife, telling me that our house had been robbed, I quickly got on the first bus from New York to our home in Sterling, Massachusetts. After I got home and checked on my wife and son, I went to the town center where there was always a bunch of teenagers hanging around. I convinced them that I was not someone to “mess with” and that I’d be back in fifteen minutes to find out who robbed my house. They were apparently convinced that I was serious because they gave me the name of a local creep. When I went to the police station the next morning with the information, he was brought in for questioning. The thief denied that he did it, so the police let him go.

About a week later I saw the criminal in a local store. I introduced myself and gave him a good scare. He whimpered,” I’m sorry man, I didn’t know it was your house. Please don’t have me killed!” Of course, I had no intention of hurting him, but I made it clear that if he ever even looked at my house again, he’d regret it. He lived up the street from us and for the next two years he would actually walk on the other side of the street being very careful to not even look at our house. We never got back any of the items he stole because he had already sold them. Eventually, his girlfriend stabbed him to death.

Being robbed changed the way we lived in many ways. I was fortunate that the thief didn’t steal our huge baseball card inventory that I kept in my home, but now I was always worried that he’d come back again or that he’d tell some other thieves about what he saw when he was inside my house. I had an alarm system installed in my home and in our new store. Whenever we’d return to our house after being away, even for a short time, we’d have the uneasy sense that we were going to come home to find the house broken into again. The alarm system we had installed in our store was very different than most home systems. This system had a central station that actually listened to sounds in the store after we closed each day through several microphones strategically located throughout the building. If someone broke a window or a door the company would hear the sound of glass breaking. If anyone was inside the store and made even a small sound, the company would call the police. The best part was that because there were no false alarms with this kind of set-up, the police took every alarm call seriously and they’d arrive at the store within minutes of a break-in.

It was around this time that I almost lost my enormous personal collection of comic books. I had installed shelves in the basement of my house and carefully stacked my comic book collection on them. The bottom shelf was about four inches off of the floor. When we first moved into this house I had noticed an old, burned-out sump pump in the corner of the basement. I asked the original owner if there was a problem with water in the basement and they assured me that there was no problem, but that the sump pump was installed “just in case”.

Apparently they were not telling the truth. During a very heavy rain, I just happened to go into the basement to get something and I noticed about three inches of water covering the entire basement floor! I screamed for my wife to help me get my comic books out of the basement. We carried the 30,000 comics up the stairs and within an hour the water had risen to six inches. Once the comic books were safely upstairs we tried, unsuccessfully, to rescue the dozens of other boxes of personal items. I now saw my old elementary school report cards and old photographs floating in two feet of water. We called the fire department and they came and pumped out our basement until the torrential rains stopped. Even though I’m still a collector, that day changed the way I feel about material possessions. While I still take care of the things I buy, I’m no longer obsessed about the condition of my collectables. I try to keep in mind that these collectables are just “things”. The collectables are not the center of my life. They are sort of all around my life, but no longer are they the center. Relationships with family and friends are much more valuable to me now.

Next chapter: My business partner, Jay, and I split up.


  1. Wait a second here...I thought this blog was "My Life With Movie Reviews"? Hey! I've been bamboozled!

    1) I'm trying to imagine how many boxes the 30,000 comics filled...That's a lot of comics.

    2) I found your ebay blog when you were pretty far along in the story. I don't think I've every fully, fully caught up. Am happy to have the chance to do so here.

  2. Sparkle,
    Oh good! I'm eager to see what you think about the chapters you had not read. 30,000 comics isn't really a huge collection anymore...I think we've got about a million comics in stock now. THAT'S a lot of comics.

  3. I loved Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

  4. Anonymous,
    I had spaghetti three times last month.

  5. Paul,
    A million comics...Now, THAT'S Entertainment! Literally!

    I'm hoping to leave comments along the way as I catch up. Work is way too busy, lately, so I'm way behind in all blogs--including my own most of the time.

    Happy Almost New Year!

  6. I'm in the same boat as Sparkle...I haven't read some of the earliest stuff, so it's still new to me. Though I will, of course, keep reading after...i was promised added pictures, after all!

    Tudors is an excellent tv show, too, by the way.