Sometimes I would go and check out the quarter prize machines (which are a staple at every grocery store to this day) to scope out the groovy goods. Other times I would just stay put in the line with Mom. What was the determining factor? The front page of the Weekly World News. The headlines that adorned that magical bit o questionable journalism were quite often the stuff of legend. THREE HEADED BIGFOOT FOUND IN NORTH DAKOTA! SPACE ALIENS TAKE OVER ENTIRE TOWN IN VIRGINIA! FISH FOUND WITH HUMAN LEGS!
For a kid obsessed with Dinosaurs, Monsters and UFO's, this was quite often the highlight of my week. However just as often as the front page would keep me in awe, it would scare the crap out of me. Doomsday messages, "real" photographs of Satan in the smoke of an oil fire and various other frightening phenomena would be emblazoned across the front page. Sometimes Mom would let me buy the paper so I could read all about Bat Boy's latest adventures or how the Hubble Telescope managed to take a photograph of heaven.
There was one issue that scared me more than any other, and I've written about it before: The Last Words of the Challenger Crew. I'm not going to go into detail of that particular issue because I already did so here. I'll tell you what though....that stayed with me for a long time. I felt an icy pit in my stomach that I just couldn't shake. To this day, if Weekly World News or The Challenger come up in conversation my first thought is immediately that horrifying transcript that I read that night....and it still sends a chill down my spine.