By Norris Chambers

             If you were around during the thirties and if you looked at magazines you most likely saw a comic-type advertisement in just about every one explaining how a 97-pound weakling became the word’s most perfectly developed man. To prove the statement there was a picture of a handsome fellow that would make Tarzan envious! The fellow’s name was Charles Atlas who had won the title of the world’s most perfectly developed man two times.

            Charles had been a scrawny weakling and by applying an easy exercise that he had discovered he became the powerful specimen who was pictured in so many advertisements.

He called the exercises dynamic tension.  The program pitted one set of muscles against other sets and produced the pictured results without any weights or other complicated work out equipment

The comic-type cartoon then featured a skinny young man and a lady enjoying a sunny day on a sandy beach. A big burly mean-spirited guy comes by and kicks sand in their faces. When he starts to protest he is quickly and forcefully convinced that he is no match for the rude bully.  Of course this affair is very embarrassing for the young man and the lady’s contempt is plainly evident.

But, fortunately, this is not the end of the story. Our hero becomes aware of the Charles Atlas course and immediately decides to change his body from the 97-pound weakling to one of the well developed types that dynamic tension could produce!

In the last panel of the tale the 97-pound weakling has become a physical specimen second only to Charles Atlas. Of course he properly punishes the big sand-kicker and the lady friend is proud of her hero!

Clifton and I were interested in the ads because there were a few bullies in our area that we considered a little too big and strong for us to attempt to reform. I wrote a letter and requested the free information that was offered by Mr. Atlas. In a few days I got a nice letter telling how great the body building course was and why every red blooded American should make use of it.

This all sounded very convincing and we knew it was something we needed. There was only one problem – the cost was only $65, postpaid! We did some quick calculations and decided that there were not enough possums in the county for us to skin and sell and make that much money. We reluctantly decided to forget about bully-bashing and find fun in some other pursuit.

Charles was persistent. In a few days another letter arrived and told us how badly he felt about us not ordering his course and getting started. Because he knew we needed it so badly, he was willing to cut the price to $30! What a bargain that was! But that price was also considerably out of our financial capability and we were forced to continue our life without the big muscles.

If you thought we would get another letter offer to sell at a lower price you were correct. Just because he knew of our desperate need he would cut the last offer in half! Send only fifteen dollars and get a good thing going. You would also be correct in thinking we couldn’t handle a fifteen dollar purchase.

Our muscle merchant did not abandon his sales effort. We got another letter explaining the benefits again and telling us he knew that we needed it so much he would send it for only five dollars. A sixty-five dollar value for a mere five dollars was just too generous to ignore. We were able to order the bargain and anxiously awaited its arrival!

The anticipated order arrived. It was a stack of lessons consisting of exercises well illustrated with pictures. Every exercise was filled with optimism and encouragement and a clear explanation of how it would strengthen and tone a particular part of the body. The exercises were not hard but they were persistent. The student was urged to perform each action with his full strength as the various muscles of the body opposed each other. About the only equipment used consisted of common chairs and a chinning bar. We began performing the exercises immediately and continued the process on a daily basis (most of the time) for many months. We exercised together when it was convenient and alone when we were apart.

We didn’t develop grapefruit-size muscles, but we did gain strength and endurance. We were able to perform over a hundred chin-ups and push-ups, chin many times with one arm, do knee-bends from the floor with one leg and several other feats that the average person could not do. No one kicked sand in our faces! We believed that we received full value for our five dollars.

Was this thing a lot of fun? Yes, and the big fun came when we sold the Atlas Course to a financially stable school mate for fifteen dollars. Clifton commented, “We would only have to sell a hundred thousand to make a million dollars!”