This is the only photo that I have from my days of being the Caped Crusader of the Hook Mountain Valley.
The Summer I Was Batman
By Richard Mabey Jr.
NOTE: Just taking a break from the “Farewell the War” chapter from I Remember Dad. This is yet another excerpt from I Remember Dad.
At the dawn of the summer of 1963, at the age of nine, I decided to become Batman to protect my neighborhood from criminals. It wasn’t a joke at all. I was very serious in my endeavor to become The Batman. I had been reading Batman comic books for well over a year at that point. I decided the time had come for me to come from the shadows and become Batman. I actually sewed my Batman costume by myself.
In a little corner of the basement of the old Mabey Homestead, I created my Batcave. I painted old cardboard boxes to look like futuristic electronic devices. I wish that I had taken a picture of my Batcave. Sadly, I didn’t.
I was a very imaginative child and as each day passed, I became more and more devoted to my dutiful responsibility to keep my neighborhood free of crime, in my new role as The Batman. I painted Batman symbols all over my bicycle. I diligently studied, not read but studied, the pages of my collection of old Batman comic books. The Batman of Hook Mountain Valley was ready to take on any and all neighborhood criminals.
I don’t know where I got the idea that my neighborhood needed a vigilante. There probably had not been a crime in the neighborhood in well over a hundred years. Although, when I was about six years old, one time Mr. Anderson, who lived in back of us, complained that his rake was missing. He had left it out overnight one time, leaning on the old maple tree in his backyard. I remember him telling my dad that it was probably one of those older Maguire boys, who lived down the block from us, who took his rake. Later, Mr. Anderson found his rake in back of his garage. Mrs. Anderson had put it there the morning, following the night when Mr. Anderson had left it out. When she went out to the stoop to get their morning newspaper, she saw it out and decided to teach her husband a lesson. So she hid it behind their garage.
Little by little, the neighbors began expressing their concerns to my dad. I took the idea of having a secret identity very serious. So, I never wore my Batman costume without having my cape and cowl on. I think that the neighbors thought that I was crazy. I think that it did cause a bit of a concern for Dad.
At any rate Dad made a deal with me. He told me that he would order a subscription of Batman comic books for me, if I agreed to retire as Batman. I remember that I explained to my father that the neighborhood needed me, to beat up the criminals. I remember how Dad patiently explained to me that our little Mayberry of New Jersey had a police force and that the police were well trained to handle criminals. I remember protesting a bit, but then the thought of getting a Batman comic book in the mail every month overwhelmed the protests that rang in my brain.
So, late that summer, I retired as Batman. I think the neighbors secretly threw a party. My dad was relieved. Still, I would climb down our cellar steps, walk to my Batcave corner and feel a bit sad. Fortunately, when my first Batman comic book came in the mail, my retirement sadness was quickly cured.
Peace and harmony,