Growing Up In Waterford, PA


Charles Atlas and Me
by the late Herb Walden

Fort LeBoeuf Class of 1956

Chances are I'll never be built like Charles Atlas. Having passed my 60th birthday some years ago leads me to this conclusion. That and I just took a look in the mirror.

It's too bad too, because I planned on it as a kid. It was all due to those comic book ads. Remember the skinny little guy at the beach getting sand kicked in his face by a big bully? Then along comes Charles Atlas and his "Dynamic Tension," and the 98-pound weakling bulks up and beats the living daylights out of the bully!

Unfortunately, I never had enough money to send for the Dynamic Tension stuff, whatever it was. I'd start to save up, and then a Popsicle or candy bar would come along and, well, it was just one thing after another.

As a teenager, I still had bulging muscles in mind. (And in mind only, I might add). So I bought a pair of grip exercisers. You know - - - those things you squeeze that look like nutcrackers. One would have been enough. I could have switched hands from time to time, but the catalog only sold them in pairs.

I used those things for a couple of days and couldn't see any difference, except that I got blisters in the palms of my hands, and my arm muscles got so tired I could hardly hold a bottle of pop.

By the time I reached my early twenties, I was still committed to having a body like Charles Atlas. (Isn't it a happy coincidence that his name just happened to be "Atlas?" I wonder if there was a Mrs. Atlas).

I sent away for a bodybuilding program that involved no equipment. Just exercise. I was faithful to the program, too. I kept at it for three, maybe four days. Not consecutive, of course, but spread out over a two-week period.

Well, I just couldn't see that it was doing any good. All that was happening was that it was making me tired, and since I was born tired, I didn't need that!

Many years have passed since those body building days. I had sort of forgotten about it until, as I mentioned, I glanced in the full-length mirror, (Something I generally avoid if at all possible). I'm afraid it's too late for Charles Atlas to do anything for me. I just have to accept the fact that I am not going to beat up that beach bully with the sand and all.

But over the years, I developed a much simpler solution to the problem.

I quit going to the beach!

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