We returned to Enid after the Korean War, in the middle of the 1952–1953 school year; I was in third grade. We stayed until I finished the sixth, and then, in a change that broke my heart, we moved to tiny Hiram, Ohio, where Dad joined the faculty of tiny Hiram College. During those Enid and Hiram years, kids I knew sometimes dressed as Frankenstein’s creature for Halloween. I never did. Because money was always an issue in our house, our costumes tended to be homemade—or “found” (stuff we already had that we adapted for a character). So we were usually ghosts (bed sheets) or hoboes or cowboys (we all owned cowboy hats, vests, blue jeans, cap guns, holsters, boots) or other low-budget characters. No store-bought masks and costumes and make-up for us. But there were parents who invested in masks or green greasepaint and figured out how to fasten electrodes (bolts!) to their kids’ necks. I envied them. I wanted to be more scary, the first step, I now realize, toward sexy.
Throughout my school years and college I neither read nor was assigned to read Mary Shelley’s novel—though I did own (and repeatedly read) the 1945 Classics Illustrated comic-book version, a publication I bought again, years later, on eBay, when the price was many multiples of the original fifteen cents. The cover of that comic shows the creature (no electrodes on neck) in the foreground; he’s climbing an icy hill. Coming toward us. He is looking back over his right shoulder a bit to see what’s behind him. In the distance, is a man pointing at him. This man, dressed in a parka, is driving a dogsled. Surrounding all is a frozen wasteland. Initially, I must have been puzzled by that. What is this? Frankenstein Meets Sergeant Preston of the Yukon?
Frankenstein was number twenty-six in the Classics Illustrated sequence, nestled between Two Years Before the Mast (#25) and The Adventures of Marco Polo (#27). Prior publications in the series included Rip Van Winkle and Huckleberry Finn; yet to come—Hamlet and The Call of the Wild. All of which I taught many times.