So Irene spent part of her day poring through her comic book collection, which meant that when I stepped into her office late this afternoon, I saw the cover to Action Comics #196—and with a cover like this, you know I had to pick it up.
I don’t think I’d ever seen that issue, which would have gone on sale a couple of months earlier than its September 1954 cover date during the year before I was born. But far more interesting than the story that cover was touting was an ad advising kids how not to catch polio.
To the right of a list of the company’s comics at the time—which included not just the expected Superman and Batman, but Flippity Flop, Dodo and the Frog, and Nutsy Squirrel as well—was an ad telling kids that “a safe and promising vaccine is being tested now, but results will not be known until 1955.” That would be the Salk vaccine, which was revealed to the world on April 12, 1955. (Luckily for me, only 12 days after I was born.)
But since that was still in the future for those who picked up Action Comics #196, readers were advised to:
1. Keep clean
2. Don’t get fatigued
3. Avoid new groups
4. Don’t get chilled
I don’t know whether that advice ever prevented anyone from getting polio, but it sure would have prevented me from getting to the candy store for more comic books!