In the Summer of 1973, the summer after my junior year of high school, my mother (temporarily) dragged me away from my first girlfriend (in Massachusetts) in order to visit the condominium Mom had bought the year before in Florida. (My mother had agreed to reside in Massachusetts, you see, long enough for me to graduate high school in May of 1974. So she actually purchased her new home when I was in tenth grade!)
Anyway, a week or two in Florida meant that I'd be doing without one, and hopefully only one, of my teenage addictions. I've already told you that I'd be doing without my girlfriend. I was hoping that I wouldn't be deprived of my new comic book supply as well.
My worries were short-lived, as you've no doubt assumed. Unlike now, where comics are almost exclusively found in comic book specialty stores, back in the 1970s comic books were a staple of newsstands, convenience stores, and the like.
Not far from my mother's condo was one of those little convenience stores, a chain called Li'l General. Researching that chain online has yielded relatively few results. I have no idea how long this store operated, but it seems to have run somewhere down South between the late 1960s and early 1970s. (If anyone knows different, please contact me! Seriously!) And then, who knows?
Now, in order to eliminate any confusion, I should point out that there has been a franchise operating as Li'l General Convenience Stores, based in Woonsocket, R.I., since 1970. Different business entirely.
Anyway (he said again), Li'l General insured that I wouldn't miss any of my comic favorites from Marvel and DC. I don't recall the specific "look" of the store; I do remember some of the comic titles I bought while there, but I'll spare you the details.
In recent years, as I said, I've done research on the internet and found precious little about Li'l General. But I've started a small collection of sorts, a collection which includes the three matchbooks pictured below, all of which were purchased on eBay.
And as for the red felt figure of the chain's mascot, the li'l general himself, sitting at the start of this post? I picked that up in "my" Li'l General store back in 1973!
The following two ads were scrounged from the internet.
And that leaves us with the next beauty. A few short years ago, I found two photos of the front and back of a Li'l General yo-yo! Surely this was a rarity, the Holy Grail for Li'l General collectors (of which I would be one of less than a handful, I assume).
But it gets even better, fellow babies! Look what I just scored on eBay! A Li'l General yo-yo of my very own, complete with its original package.
Now, with this post, I'm going to increase the hits you get when you do a Google image search for "Li'l General." So if anyone (besides myself) cares, and remembers this long-forgotten chain, they may just contact me and share their memories.
Trivial? Well, of course! In fact, the main reason I posted this is to have all these illustrations online for my own purposes. But if I've entertained you at all with all this rambling today, so much the better.
Thanks for indulging me, or should I say, thanks for your time.