Friday, January 18, 2013

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 188

A brief introduction:

My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.



The current cast of characters:

Paul Howley: age 46

Mal Howley: age 47

Adam Howley: my son, age 21

Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 17





   As the summer of 2001 ended, many of our friends helped us get our cottage more livable by ripping off old wallpaper, tearing up rugs and lots of general cleaning. The elderly man who owned it before us had done some “repair” work himself but it was done very poorly. He had an actual lamp fastened to the wall inside the shower and odd burned-out electrical outlets in odd places around the house. I’m not “handy” with tools at all so I’d need to hire carpenters, electricians, and plumbers to fix this place up. Even though we only lived about twenty minutes away from our cottage, we wanted it to be a pleasant place to stay. The location was certainly beautiful with a nice view of the sandy beach from our living room window.


   Shortly after Cassandra’s final year of high school began, Mal and I organized an important informational meeting for Cassy’s classmates so we could give them all of the final details about the Caribbean cruise we had been planning for the past three years. We invited the student’s parents to come if they had any questions or concerns. We detailed the entire class trip, explaining the various transportation modes, the types of food and entertainment the cruise ship would offer, the approximate amount of extra spending money the student should consider bringing, and the various activities that would not be allowed (drinking and gambling). We had recruited sufficient chaperones (we had many volunteers!) but we stressed how important it would be to observe our behavior guidelines. When our presentation was done, we asked if there were any questions. The students had a few and several expressed their excitement about this trip. Before we concluded, we asked the parents if they had any questions. One Mom and Dad said they weren’t sure a trip like this would be enjoyed by their daughter but they were going to leave it up to her to decide. Another Mom and Dad said that they thought this trip was far too extravagant. They explained that they never even went on family vacations because it was too expensive. I tried to reason with them, explaining that the trip was actually quite inexpensive and that we had fund-raising efforts that would lower the burden for the students. They still objected. The last set of parents thought that the money shouldn’t be spent on a class trip. They said that we should give the money to the teachers at the school or donate it to the needy. I tried to convince them that while I agree that those would be good things to do, that’s not what this is about. I asked them,“Why did you wait until now to discuss this after the class has been planning this for a full three years?” They replied, “We never thought this would actually happen. Other classes had big plans before and they never came together.”


   “Arrrggghhh! Are you kidding me?!” That’s what I wanted to say…but I didn’t.



Next chapter: September 11th