Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 133

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 44
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 18
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 14


In the late summer of 1998, my wife Mal and my daughter Cassy moved up to the rented condo in Laconia, New Hampshire to get ready for Cassy’s freshman year of school at Laconia Christian School. Adam and I stayed at our home in Bolton, Massachusetts, as he needed to work full-time right up until the beginning of his first day of college so he’d have enough spending money for his first semester. While Adam worked, I went to work at my comic book store in Worcester, Massachusetts to finalize my plans to end my involvement in day-to-day activities of the business. I’d be living about 110 miles away but would be available by telephone to help Chris deal with some problems if he needed me.

My staff seemed able to handle the responsibilities pretty well and I was comfortable that Chris, my company manager, would be a good motivator and leader. Business was great and sales were still rising.

Our move to New Hampshire was pretty easy because the condo we were renting was fully furnished. All we needed to move up there was our clothes and a few personal effects. We settled in quickly.

A few weeks before Cassy’s school year began, we got a call from the Massachusetts high school that had put Cassy on the “waiting list” for admission informing us that a spot had opened up for her. It was too late for us to change our decision so we declined. We were confident that we were making the right decision.

Shortly before the New Hampshire school classes started, the school organized a family “work day.” It was expected that the entire family of the school’s students would volunteer some time to help maintain the school property and buildings. This was our first real involvement with the school and Cassy and I met and worked with Steve and Dan Forbes. Dan was a classmate of Cassy’s so it was nice for her to get to know him before school actually started. Although Cassy’s cousins, Jesse and Jacob, attended the school too, they were not in the same grade. Cassy was a “new kid” at this school and that can be awkward for a young teenager. Luckily, there were a few other “new kids” coming to the school for the first time including Nichole Behan, Seamus O’Brien, and Andrew Hare. We had met some other local families when we had gone to church services held in the gymnasium of the school including the Verhoeks and the Foote families. The Verhoeks had a daughter, Emily who was several years ahead of Cassy and the Foote family had Bryan, who was several years ahead of Cassy, and Caleb, who was in Cassy’s class. Before I actually met Caleb, I had heard that he was a serious comic book fan and his favorite was Spider-Man. I found out that he was missing one part of a multi-part storyline and on one of my trips to my comic book store, I was able to get a copy for him. I got directions to his home and put it into his mailbox. When we finally met after church, we discussed comic books for quite a while. I found Caleb actually knew much more about the current series of Spider-Man than I did!

We became friends with the Foote family pretty quickly. Barbara Foote (the Mom) had lost her husband Al to cancer and found herself alone with three young children: Allison, Bryan, and Caleb Parys. In time, she married Jim Foote, a kind and patient man who helped raise Barb’s children as his own, with love and understanding.

Within a very short time, Cassy began dating Bryan even though he was two years older. Technically, we didn’t want Cassy to actually go on a date until she was sixteen so although we liked Bryan quite a lot, we were still “freaked out” when he gave her a diamond ring after only knowing her for a few months! He insisted that it was just a “friendship” ring so both families allowed it.

Next chapter: We invite one of my childhood favorite artists to our store: Gene Colan, a true master of comic book art!

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