Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Some 1965 Amazing Stories ads were too amazing to be true

Last summer, just before Independence Day, I shared some of the classified advertisements that had appeared in the back pages of the August 1977 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Several of them were creepy. It was the late 1970s, after all.

There were questionable dating services and ESP labs and a mad scientist seeking "assistants" and the Tibetan eye chart.

Now, let's go back 12 years earlier than 1977 and check out the classified ads in the October 1965 issue of Amazing Stories. Before typing these up, my prediction was that these Lyndon Johnson Era notices would be a bit tamer than those crazy ones from the Jimmy Carter/David Berkowitz Era.

Here we go...

  • AUTHORS! Learn how to have your book published, promoted, distributed. Free booklet "ZD", Vantage, 120 West 31 St., New York 1.
  • SF BARGAINS. List free. Werewolf Bookshop, Verona 47, Pa.
  • BOOKHUNTERS! Sent Wants! Atlantic Book Service, 10 N Cedar, Charlestown, Mass. 02129.
  • WHY Buy Books? Send 10¢ for information. Science Fiction Circulating Library, P.O. Box 1308, South San Gabriel, Calif. 91777.
  • INVESTIGATE ACCIDENTS — Earn $750 to $1,400 monthly. Men urgently needed. Car furnished. Business expenses paid. No selling. No college education necessary. Pick own job location. Investigate full time. Or earn $6.44 hour spare time. Write for Free Literature. No obligation. Universal, CB-7. 6801 Hillcrest, Dallas 5, Texas.
  • LEARN While Asleep, hypnotize with your recorder, phonograph. Astonishing details, sensational catalog free! Sleep-Learning Association, Box 24-ZD, Olympia, Wash.
  • DOUBLE Your Luck With this Unusual "Hotei" God inside Horseshoe. Rub his tummy, and you can't lose wearing it on your keychain. Only $1.98, 2 for $3.00. Erna's P.O. Box 646, 1615 N. Wilcox Ave., Hollywood, Calif. 90028.
  • ELECTRONIC Ray kills bugs moths gnats flies, mosquitos by millions. Free information Sunray Distributing, Old Fort, N.C.
  • CURIOUS? Strange, Weird, Unusual Surprise Package from HAWAII. Only for mature adults. $3. Box 3503 Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • FLORIDA Water Wonderland — Homesites, Cottagesites, Mobilesites, Established area $390, full price, $5.00 month. Swimming, fishing, boating. Write, Lake Weir, 38 bg, Silver Springs, Fla. Ad 6-1070 (F-1)

Indeed, while there is some odd stuff there, there's nothing that's nearly as creepy as the 1977 advertisement for "BEAUTIFUL MEXICAN GIRLS needing American boy-friends."

Taking a closer look at the 1965 notices, the first one that jumped out at me was the Werewolf Bookshop in Verona, Pennsylvania. Was that really a place? Is that really a place? Verona is a riverside borough located northeast of Pittsburgh. I found a couple interesting mentions about the Werewolf Bookshop online. An article titled "Way Down In Verona" by Howard DeVore details the (alleged) scheme by which the bookseller made money. An excerpt:
"He would tell you that he was going back into the Army, and that he must get rid of his inventory of books and magazines, one way or the other. He went on to say that rather than assigning them to a paper drive he was giving them away for the price of postage -- for six dollars postage you could pick out one hundred dollars worth of books. The postage was far too high but it was still a very good deal, so, you picked out $100 worth of books and sent him the six dollars. Eventually, you got a package from him, but when you opened it, it did not include the books you ordered. Instead, you got two or three old beat-up books, which were marked 'out of print, $50'."
There's much more to the tale, and you should read the whole thing for all the gory biblio-scam details. It's a bit amusing now, but all of the folks who got jobbed must have been (rightfully) furious.

The Werewolf Bookshop is also mentioned in a Walker Martin remembrance titled "COLLECTING PULPS: A Memoir, Part 12: Rereading UNKNOWN and UNKNOWN WORLDS." Here's that excerpt from Mystery*File:
"Finally in 1963, while attending college, I managed to put aside $50 and I started scouting around for a set of the 39 issues [of the magazine Unknown]. All I could pay was $50 but everyone I contacted wanted more. I even contacted the Werewolf Bookshop in Verona, Pennsylvania (this bookstore advertised in many of the digest SF magazines) and I still have the letter dated September 3, 1963. I stapled it into my Unknown book where I noted my thoughts and comments on the magazine. The owner stated that he had contacted three fans and only one was willing to sell and he wanted $200 for his set.

"Back in 1963 this was an outrageous sum, and it’s lucky I did not send money to the Werewolf Bookshop. It seems the owner was in the habit of sending you anything he had if he did not have the books that you ordered. Then when you complained about receiving books that you didn’t want, he would ignore your letters and keep your money. If I had sent him $200, there is no telling what he would have shipped me. Except that it would not have been a set of Unknown. I have read about and even met fellow collectors who fell victim to this scam."
So there are your Werewolf Bookshop cautionary tales...

Of course, you could have afforded all the books that your heart desired in the 1960s if you were an Accident Investigator. The sum of $1,400 per month noted in the Amazing Stories advertisement is the equivalent of about $10,800 per month today! But I'm guessing the dreams promised by that "job" were a scam, too.

As an alternative, you wouldn't have needed a high-paying job if you could DOUBLE YOUR LUCK. And all that required was a $1.98 investment in a "Hotei God inside Horseshoe." Hotei, also known as Budai or Pu-Tai, is an Asian folklore deity that is purported to bestow good fortune, especially if you rub his idol's ample belly. Hotei is one of the Seven Lucky Gods.

Finally, if you got one of those Florida "Wonderland" lots for just $390 and are still living happily ever after down in the Sunshine State, drop us a line. (Drop us a line, too, if you know any of the true details behind that too-good-to-be-true real-estate deal.)

1 comment:

  1. re: "WHY Buy Books? Send 10¢ for information." For your dime, I suspect you would receive a list of local libraries.