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A flat tyre in Chillicothe, Ohio


Stealing mail in the army
Stan Lee Writer
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While I was in the service, since I was stationed in the States, I had some free time, so I still was writing some stories for the comic book company. The editor there would… the fellow I replaced… who replaced me… I appointed a fellow named Vince Fago to be the editor while I was gone. He would send me an assignment like: ‘Stan, could you write a 10-page Captain America story for us? We need it in two days’. And I would write it at night. So one day I was told… either he phoned me or wrote to me, I don't know… that he'd be sending me a little request for a story. I should get it by Friday or Saturday, and he needed it by the next Monday or Tuesday. Well, Friday came around and Saturday came around and there was no…no letter from him, and I knew this guy was infallible. So I went to the mail person and I said, ‘Hey, is there a letter for me? Did you lose it or something?’ He said ‘No, there's no letter’ and he was reading a copy of Playboy. He didn't care. So I passed the mail room and I could look through the window. The mail room was always locked, but I looked through the window, and they had these little slots. Each one was a different letter, all the mail for a guy beginning with A was in this cubicle, and B… and then the Ls, I could see there was an envelope lying there, and I could recognize the return address, you know… it said, so-and-so Comics on it. I knew that was my letter. I said, ‘Hey, my letter is in there. They forgot to give it to me’. And this guy said, ’Well, I'm sorry. It's closed now; you've got to wait till Monday’. I said, ’I can't wait till Monday, it's an assignment. I've got to write the story’. So I said, ‘I tell you what. I'm going to just open the thing and take it, okay?’, he said, ‘Ah do what you want’. He kept reading. So it was easy enough, the thing was locked but there was a hinge with the lock, and I just took a screwdriver. I took the hinge off, opened the lock… the lock was closed… I opened the hinge, opened the door, got my letter, put the hinge back, screwed it up again, wrote the story, mailed it, and a few days later… there was a captain who hated me, I think it was because I drove around the post in a Buick convertible that I had bought with some money I made from some stories I had written. And it was a very jazzy… it was a four-door convertible Phaeton. I had bought it second-hand but it was gorgeous. And I had a lot of girlfriends on the post, so I would drive them around and I think the Captain resented that. But any rate, he called me in. He said, ‘Sergeant Lieber, you're going to Leavenworth’. I said, ‘What are you talking about?’; he said, ‘You robbed the mail’. Anyway, this could have been a very serious thing. I was stupid; I didn't know you're not supposed to unhook the… I said, ‘I told the guy I was going to do it’. He said, ‘That's no excuse’. So luckily, this was after I had done that poster about ‘VD, not me’. And I had also written a few other films that were very well received, and the colonel of the post had gotten recognition because of that and he wanted to make General. And I was friends with a few other officers 'cause, I was in sort of a special category. Whatever post I was at, I was the only guy who was classified as a screenwriter, you know, and they were impressed with me so I hung around with the officers quite a lot. You weren't supposed to fraternize with officers so, I would wear a sweater like this where my stripes didn't show, and they would wear sweaters where their bars, or oak leaves, didn't show, and we were like a few guys out together. So we got very friendly. So anyway, this Captain was later told if he makes an issue of this thing about me opening the mail, the next thing he would be a Captain of some post at the North Pole or something. So he dropped the whole thing and… luckily, because I was friendly with these higher-ups. If not for that I… you'd be doing this interview in Leavenworth, I'd probably have gotten a life sentence. So that was some… I mean, there were so many things that happened in the army. But I… I another funny thing I thought was when finally the war was over and we were going to be discharged we received orientation lectures so that we'd be able to go back to civilian life, to make it easy, the transition from army life to civilian. I said to myself, what is this? The minute I take this uniform off, I'm a civilian. I don't need instructions.

The creative genius of American writer, Stan Lee (1922-2018) brought us 'Spider Man', 'X-Men' and 'The Hulk'. They climbed tall buildings and fought the bad guys, but had normal worries too, about love, acceptance and family. Readers loved them and Marvel Comics, with Lee at the helm, went on to become hugely successful. In 2010 the Stan Lee Foundation was founded to focus on literacy, education and the arts. On January 4, 2011 Lee received the 2428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Listeners: Leo Bear

Leo Bear is a Hollywood-based features writer. Her background is in news and features writing. Leo spent five years on the entertainment newsdesk at BBC Worldwide before going freelance and moving out to Los Angeles. She specialises in writing lifestyle features, celebrity interviews, health stories and travel features for publications including Eve Magazine, OK! Magazine, Total Film, TV Hits and Conde Nast Gourmet Travel Guide.

Tags: Timely Comics, Fort Leavenworth, Vincent Fago

Duration: 4 minutes, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008