One of the last tasks my siblings and I took on after my mother’s passing was to go through the numerous pictures and photo albums she had saved over 87 years of a well lived life. Mom was sentimental and had a great-looking family, so there was a lot to go through. One of the things we
found was that she had created an album for each of her five children at the occasion of their respective
high school graduation. An interesting find in one of my sister’s albums was a photo that chronicled a
quirky, random and a bit nerdy visit of a 60’s television star to a Terre Haute Department store.
The black and white glossy photo features actor Burt Ward portraying the iconic role of Robin, the Boy
Wonder from the kitschy TV series Batman. The photo shows Robin posed with his right index finger
pointed outward, presumably admonishing The Joker or one of his henchmen for their choice of a life of
crime. Across the photo is written, “Hi John! Linda, Carri & Martha! Burt Ward ‘Robin’.” Smiley faces are
used for the exclamation points, no Oxford comma.
My sister and I recalled the occasion by which the photo was obtained. Her friend Linda and Linda’s
friend Carri came over to our house with the news that “Robin” was making an appearance at the
Montgomery Ward Department Store in Terre Haute. We thought it was a hoot since the show hadn’t
been on in a few years. It was close enough to walk, so we went.
Sure enough, Burt Ward was in the side parking lot in full Robin costume signing photos and we got in line. While we were in line to meet the Boy Wonder, a carload of college-aged men in homemade super-hero costumes drove by to make fun of Burt. After an awkward moment, Burt waved them off,they left and went on their way. Great fun for the college boys. I felt bad for Burt, but we got our photo, had a laugh and went home.
The last time I had recalled the visit of the Boy Wonder to Terre Haute was during my undergrad days at
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology some forty years ago. My fraternity did a good job of archiving activities that occurred each year at our chapter. (I think we won awards for it or got honorable mention or something like that.) In any case, I found myself one evening at the chapter house perusing a
scrapbook from the early 70’s and I came across a photo of some of my elder brothers, dressed in bad
super-hero costumes hamming it up with Burt Ward. I chuckled in recalling the event and hadn’t
thought of my encounter with the super-hero again until my sister’s photo was discovered.
In retrospect, I’m sure my brothers enjoyed making fun of the washed-up actor making an appearance
at a Terre Haute department store. They probably went back to the house to study thermodynamics, electrical science, wave theory, maybe a little Fortran IV or organic chemistry.
I’m sure they all have made meaningful contributions in the fields of science, engineering and business since their encounter with the boy wonder.
Burt Ward, however, is, was, and forever shall be Robin, The Boy Wonder.
Advantage Burt, and they know it.