Thursday, December 3, 2015

Highlights of my youth.

A visit to the doctor's waiting room is a visit to my past.

Not that the magazines in this doctor's office are so old that they actually date to my childhood. This is High Five, a spinoff for younger kids, but just seeing that Highlights logo makes me happy.

Back in my day, Highlights covers were not so cartoony:

Color-coded, though.
I always enjoyed the magazine. It was more fun than Boys' Life. Nothing against the Scouts, but I never got out of the city, or out of the station wagon, so stories about nature survival didn't resonate with me. Besides, during my Highlights days I was probably too young for Boys' Life.

Highlights was the closest thing to a general-interest magazine I ever read, excepting Reader's Digest. Highlights was meant for any kid who could read English. That encompasses a lot of kids. Can you think of an adult magazine that targets all grown-ups that way?

Highlights has a lot of great features that people remember into adulthood, perhaps none so much as the continuing conflict between Goofus and Gallant. But one that I enjoyed was the hidden-objects puzzle. It would be a line drawing (which you could color in) (except if it was in the doctor's waiting room) that had a list of objects that were hidden in it.

I remember one that I'm pretty sure was a drawing of Bob Cratchit carrying Tiny Tim on his shoulders through the streets of London. There was the usual list of a dozen or so things you had to find, and I found them all.

Except the spoon.

This issue was in my dentist's office. He did not cycle the mags much. Next time I was there I went back to that same issue and checked again.

No spoon.

I feel like I spent dozens of visits looking for that dadblasted spoon, but it might have been three. I used every strategy my childlike brain could conceive of to scan every inch of the illustration. No dice. Or rather, no spoon.

Now, as a publishing professional (no, really!) I have worked for a number of magazines, and I know how, with the best will in the world, mistakes can get through. The word "spoon" might have been left from a template for the list. But I didn't know that back then. I thought adults who made magazines were perfect. I thought I was being stupid.

Boy, was I wrong. Not about me being stupid; I leave that for others to determine. About people who make magazines being perfect. Wow. As a colleague once told me: with all the prima donnas and all the politics, publishing "is like show business without the money."

I would still like to see that puzzle one more time. Highlights had never let me down otherwise. Maybe, just maybe... there was a spoon somewhere....

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