The Scar, the Barn Loft, and the Batman
Updated: Jan 12
By Ronnie Blair
On my left knee is a faint scar, put there nearly 60 years ago by Adam West – sort of. He was responsible indirectly anyway.
Anyone who was around in the 1960s remembers the extraordinary impact Batmania had on the nation when the TV series Batman debuted on ABC on Jan. 12, 1966. West, in full Batman regalia, even made the cover of Life magazine, which more typically featured luminaries such as Robert Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, or Sophia Loren.
I was enthralled the moment I saw the first commercial previewing the upcoming show. Among other things, that commercial featured Batman and Robin bursting from a hollow statue of a mammoth to finally put a halt to one of the Riddler’s nefarious schemes. Soon my friends and I were riveted to our black-and-white TV screens each Wednesday and Thursday nights as we joined the Caped Crusaders on their adventures, trying hard to ignore ABC’s cruel reminders that the show was “in color” on more fortunate children’s TV sets.
Like many youngsters, I was an imaginative boy who turned many of the things I saw on my TV into backyard adventures. I could be Roy Rogers, galloping across the lawn on a battered broom that doubled as a horse, or Tarzan, climbing a handy apple tree not far from the back door. In the spring of 1966, when I was eight, it was time to add Batman to my repertoire. As a millionaire with elaborate gadgets at the ready, Batman was more of a challenge than cowboys or jungle lords, but my imagination was up to the task.
At the time, my family rented a two-story house that stood on a hillside in our small southeastern Kentucky community. Behind the house was a pasture and at one end of that pasture was a barn.
At least, that’s what dull-minded adults saw. Eight-year-old me saw something more majestic: a millionaire’s mansion (the barn loft) and a fully equipped Batcave (the barn’s dirt floor). I raced down the hill to the barn, wasting no time. Who knew? Commissioner Gordon might be calling at that very moment, in dire need of my assistance.
I easily climbed to the loft, something I had accomplished before without any Bat Plans brewing. But, like any millionaire playboy with loftier missions in mind, I did not plan to stay there. I needed to get down to the Batcave posthaste.
Here was the first obstacle in my elaborately crafted scenario. On the TV show, Batman and Robin used Bat Poles hidden behind a book shelf to slide from Wayne Manor down to the Batcave, somehow changing into their costumes along the way. Unsurprisingly, the barn loft had no Bat Pole – or anything that could even vaguely mimic a Bat Pole. I was a determined young Batman impersonator, though, and so I improvised. I decided I would simply hang from the loft and drop to the barn floor.
This could have been a brilliant solution except for one thing. I lost my grip on the loft before I was ready. My body plummeted to the ground and a sharp pain shot through my left knee the moment I landed. I’m not sure exactly what I landed on, but that jarring end to my fall ripped a deep gash in my knee that would require nine stitches.
Just like that, Wayne Manor and the Bat Cave reverted to a rather dismal-looking barn.
I was a forgiving child, though, so I never held it against Adam West that his TV exploits had led to the unfortunate scar on my knee. To this day, I am ready with an answer when people pose the question about which actor made the best Batman. Michael Keaton? Christian Bale? Ben Affleck?
Nope. Adam West. Knee scars and all.
Ronnie Blair is lead writer for Advantage Media and the author of Eisenhower Babies: Growing Up on Moonshots, Comic Books, and Black-and-White TV.