Is everybody in? Is everybody in?
Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin
That kind of thing would normally make me uncomfortable. Possibly squirm in my seat, even. I’m not much for the ballet and overzealous cod pieces. Remember that guy on Captain Kangaroo? The skin suit guy that showed his internal organs? He may have sang a song about the wonders of the colon or kidney health, I can’t remember. Anyways, the five-year old me was extremely nervous whenever he appeared. But when we’re talking about superheroes, well that’s different. Superheroes needed the least amount of restraint they could get. They were flying, running, jumping, kicking, punching, and battling to save people like you and me. To save mankind. Tights were a necessity. Tights were part of the uniform. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, The Flash, and even the X-Men wore tights. And I was okay with that. So a couple weeks ago when my dad called me at work to ask me if I knew about the Hall of Superheroes I was intrigued. Apparently my parents were watching a show called ‘Toy Hunter’ where this guy goes around buying rare, vintage, and hard-to-find toys. Some for himself, and some for others I guess. Anyways this particular episode the toy hunting guy goes to the Hall of Superheroes in Elkhart, In. Elkhart. This once thriving industrialized town now just a gritty shell of a town that it once was that sat a mere hour north from my home. My dad said “I think Owen would really like it.”
My son Owen is a huge super hero fan. He loves comics, cartoons, DC, Marvel, movies…anything to do with superheroes he’s a fan. It started out a couple years ago that he’d buy comics and it seemed to me he was just looking at the pictures, not actually reading the storylines. He filled in the blanks with the classics; the early 90s X-Men cartoons, Iron Man cartoons, Batman: The Animated Series, and the Spiderman and Hulk cartoons from the early 90s as well. I even got him into Spiderman and His Amazing Friends, featuring Iceman(one of my favorites as a kid) and the extremely curvy Firestar(hubba hubba.) But at some point -I’m not sure when- I realized my son wasn’t just looking at the pictures in those comics and graphic novels. He was reading the stories. He was bringing up characters I’d never heard of. He could tell me who everyone was in those books and cartoons. He’d ask me if he could get on the computer and watch videos on Youtube. I’d ask him what he was going to watch and he’d say super hero videos. Well what he was watching were these fan-made videos that were essentially pictures of superheroes with some nu metal band playing in the background. It was disturbing, yet he was just more interested in seeing the pics of folks from the DC/Marvel universes. It has gotten to the point to where I go to the 9 year old if I have any questions regarding superhero history.
So back to the phone call from my dad. This was good news for me, as Spring Break was only a couple weeks away and as usual nothing was planned other than staying up late and watching movies that would surely cause nightmares. This gave me something to take work off for and somewhere to take the kids. They couldn’t say we didn’t do anything on spring break, dammit. Lucky for me my daughters like the superhero stuff enough that they were looking forward to going as well. Win-win.
Last Friday we left our house at 11am and began our trek north. Directions were put into the GPS and all seemed well. I knew the general area as I have family that live around Elkhart; plus I’ve been to Elkhart plenty of times in the past. The Hall of Superheroes was located on a county road, so it wasn’t quite “in” town. This is good, as there’s some shady spots in this once thriving town that had jobs a-plenty thanks to the RV-industry. Sadly, that industry crashed and burnt in 2008-2009. Nearly all the RV and trailer factories shut their doors, which led to Elkhart having the highest unemployment rate in the country. Not sure where they stand nowadays, but it’s still a pretty desolate town. The suburban location of our own local Hall of Justice was a welcomed surprise. After the GPS took us on a jaunt through Amish country we finally arrived at our destination. The Hall of Superheroes.
The museum is located on a wooded lot in the back of a very nice brick house. An in-ground pool sits to the left of the museum, which looks like a pull-barn that was converted to look like the home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the The Wonder Twins. You walk inside and the place is nice and cool(I’m sure it’s climate controlled due to all the collectibles, including comics.) There’s a teenage boy playing video games at the front desk and he takes our money. $20 for four of us($6 for adults and $4 for kids 10 and under), which I didn’t think was bad. It quickly occured to me what this place really was: it was a guy’s private collection that he turned into a museum in order to make money and add to that collection. The kid that took our money and that was playing video games was the son I imagine. Not a bad gig, really. So, onto the goods. The bottom level had the two most collectible items in the place: Adam West’s original Batman costume and The Greatest American Hero costume wore by William Katt on the tv show. There was a blonde afro wig on the mannequin which donned the suit that could’ve been William Katt’s actual scalp. I’m not sure. On one of the walls was a collection of first edition comics; another was Batman central with tons of memorabilia including a creepy bust of Adam West. Burt Ward’s codpiece may have been there, I’m not sure. There was a “batpole” that went upstairs. My son guffawed at everything, even pointing out that some of the art hanging in the bathroom looked like some art he has in his room. I think he would’ve moved into the place had he been able to. My daughters were mildly interested, but most of the excitement was coming from my 9 year old son.
We headed upstairs and saw right away there was an X-Men arcade game, still working and ready for our quarters. All three kids jumped on that and played together while I looked around. Just an overwhelming amount of comics and toys were everywhere in this room. I can’t imagine what this guy’s house was like before they built this “museum”. And I’m sure he’s been collecting this stuff since he was a kid. His room had to have been a disaster area. Though, as well set up as this place was I imagine he was pretty particular with his toys and comics. Anyways, it was overwhelming to imagine cataloging all the stuff in this building.
Pretty soon my daugthers were doing the “Are we done yet?” thing, and I have to admit I was pretty much ready to hit the road. My son seemed to be lost in some Marvel trance, muttering things like “I wish I could buy it” and “Is this for sale?” I knew we needed to get him out, and quickly. We headed back downstairs and my son says “My head hurts”, so I say it’s time to go. We head out to the car and with all the sun the car had heated up rather nicely. Heat doesn’t do much for my son’s headaches. When he gets headaches they affect everything. I tell him I’ll find a Walmart and get some Ibuprofen for him. Well, I hit the main highway and we’re stuck in traffic. Roadwork ahead and no sign of cars moving. He’s quickly feeling worse. The windows were down to air the car out, but due to all the trucks and traffic you could hardly breathe so I had to roll the windows up and turn on the air. Meanwhile, the fumes, heat, and starts and stops have got my son feeling worse. I realized I won’t find a Walmart and see a Walgreens ahead. I pull in and my son asks if he can go in, too. I say sure, so we all head in. I ask him if he’s okay and he says yes. We find the aisle with the pain relievers and Owen puts his head down and puts his hands on his knees. I ask him what’s wrong and he says his stomach doesn’t feel good. We quickly start looking for the bathroom. We make it to the restroom and just as he walks into the stall his stomach pushes forth a spray of vomit like no other. Had this been at home he would’ve thrown up all over the floor, his bed, the couch, or some other easily ruined piece of furniture. But this time he made it right into the toilet, and Praise Jebus for that. After 45 seconds of heaving he said he was done. His eyes bloodshot and watery, he washed his hands and we went out to find his sisters. Ibuprofen, water, and chips were purchased and we hit the road. By the time we were halfway home the headache subsided, his stomach was fine, and like Wolverine he’d self-healed himself.
The day didn’t end up quite like I’d hoped. I’d planned on a nice lunch, maybe peruse a record store, and then casually make our way home. Instead we threw up in a Walgreens and ate chips in my car from Elkhart back to our humble abode located in the woods. Despite the whole vomit thing, we had a good time at the Hall of Superheroes, laughed at funny action figures, and even saw super hero toilet paper. What more could you ask for?
Maybe a superhero barf bag.