Treasure Awaiting Rediscovery? (Maybe)

Posted by on December 17th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Frank Owen’s Ossie Tittle — an eccentric, outdoorsy Goon Show of a strip, fascinated this writer’s semi-infancy (6-7 years) during the corresponding calendar year of 1936. A Sunday strip in the all-color comics supplement of Hearst’s Sunday Mirror, for at least a couple of months, it was a solid chunk of imagine fodder, judging by my memories of the drawing. The cast recalled Washington Irving’s Ichabod Crane: a positive flock of scarecrows, grown-up Raggedy Anns and Andys, bolted from the cornfields.

Ossie, their gawkish Gulliver, was cheered on his way (sidling, baggy-pantsed, down a city street) with urchins’ shouts: “‘Get back on the sidewalk, Ossie.’” His bangs suggested an ancestor of placid rustic specialist Sterling Holloway. Whether as reporter, lay sociologist, or fugitive from polite society, Ossie communed frequently with a rural horde whom I don’t recall occupying any sort of domicile.

I clearly recall one of their number: a gent named Hector. The standout item of Hector’s wardrobe was a horse collar. Yes: like unto that borne by Mickey Mouse’s (former) buddy Horace: only, on Hector’s sturdy bulk, enigmatic and quaintly bewitching. Fevered by its power over the scrawny local girls (who declared that Hector looked “noble” in it), Ossie wrested it from him, once (never ask my 6-years-old memory: “How?”) and reduced Hector (only for the episode’s duration) to hulking normalcy. I recall Ossie Tittle with the treasures (often, alas, illusory, though not, perhaps, here) with the illustrations of the Blue Fairy Book, and others of childhood’s precious rubbish heap.

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