How Silly Was My Putty

sillyputty1As a kid, I inhaled comic books and had amassed the kind of collection that if owned today could easily cover my 401k losses from 2007.

I also loved reading the newspaper comics page, especially the Sunday edition and its colorful, over-sized drawings.

Thanks to an ingenious product known as Silly Putty, I could spend an entire afternoon with the Sunday comics. I would take the putty, slap it on a favorite comic strip, press hard, and pull away, capturing an image of the strip.

And that’s when the fun really started, because by stretching the putty I could distort the image. By the time I was done with stout and bearded Bluto, he was as thin as an Abba-Zaba bar at a taffy-pulling contest.

My favorite indoor pastime, however, was a word game a friend and I played, long before “Words with Friends” became popular. We would comb through a dictionary for a long word, find one and write it at the top of a sheet of paper.

Next, writing furiously and separately for thirty minutes or more, we would compose as many words as we could think of, using only the letters at the top of the page.

“Antidisestablishmentarianism,” clocking in at a long 28 letters, was our favorite starter word. We were told it was the longest word in the English language and had no reason to doubt it.

One day my partner-in-words brought in a medical dictionary and that single change lifted our game to an entirely new level. That’s when we discovered the word:

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

Those early years were influential but, oddly enough, I didn’t grow up to become a sales rep for Big Pharma.

From working as a journalist in the United States Navy to teaching English composition at a small university, from magazine cartooning and screenwriting to crafting user manuals and marketing materials in the high tech industry, I remained loyal to my roots.

I was a “word and picture” kind of guy from the get-go. Still am.

What pre-Internet word or picture activities did you pursue?

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4 comments

  1. Our advanced development and superior intellect allowed us to simultaneously pursue word and picture challenges. We played hangman.

  2. My mom and I, on road trips, would play a game where you would write the alphabet down the left side of a piece of paper. Then you would open any written material and point to a page and whatever was there…a sentence, part of a sentence, or whatever. Then you would write those letters down next to the alphabet so you had pairs of letters. Then we’d try to come up with names of celebrities, living or dead, who had those initials. It was fun, funny and we lived for the possible combination of ZF….Zelda Fitzgerald!!

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