It seems as if the world has tilted a little more to the crazy axis again in the past few days, leaving us all scratching our heads and wondering what might come next. The senseless violence has me, and I am guessing many of you too, wishing for a simpler time and place, and for me, that usually involved memories of my childhood growing up in a small town in the 1970s.
The older I get, the more the memories of an idyllic childhood begin to fade away, but still the thought of spending a couple of more days back in the 70’s is pretty appealing and there is one thing that always transports me to that magic time. That is Aisle 15 at the West Union Wal-Mart. Of course, if you don’t know already, that is the aisle where the baseball cards are sold. I still get that magical kid feeling when I rip open a pack of cards, which is why you will notice me always peeking in Aisle 15 even if my wife has sent me there on another shopping mission.
I had something rare for me last weekend, some time at home with nothing to do, at least until my wife got in the cleaning and moving furniture mode. One of the rooms that we needed to clean was my so-called “man cave”, an addition to the house we added a few years ago and where most of my childhood memories reside. By that I mean, all my sports cards are stuffed in there wherever there is room. There were scattered card boxes around that needed my attention, so I took the time to go through them all and suddenly found myself sitting in the middle of my bed in 1974 or thereabouts sorting through a newly purchased box of cards.
If you were like me, you sorted the cards in many different ways. I usually did it by team and then starting marking on those checklist cards as I began my quest for the complete set. Of course, baseball card collecting then was for the kids, something that it’s not today. In fact, I don’t even know one youngster that collects baseball cards any more. I thought my collection would pass down to my son, but he lost interest about the time he put the first Xbox controller in his hand.
Back to 1974. The stacks of cards all over the top of my bed were something magical and I will never forget the thrill of getting on my bicycle and making my way to the Locker Plant in Ripley where a brand new unopened box of Topps baseball, football, or basketball cards was waiting for me. (We had connections at the store so a phone call usually informed us of their arrival.) After opening a couple of packs right there in front of the store, it was a mad rush home to open the rest, not worrying one bit about how much a card was worth or maybe it was best to leave the box unopened. Of course, it’s if I knew then what I know now, but in 1974 I could care less about value. I just wanted to see the shots of Bench, Perez, Rose, Foster, Morgan, Griffey, Geronimo, and Concepcion show up in my hand, even if they may have had a little bubble gum stain here and there.
Now, those days have come and gone and the days of buying mass quantities of baseball cards has also passed. As many of you know, the hobby has turned into a plaything for rich adults and my budget now includes more important things, such as food, car payments, utility bills, and all those other things that I didn’t worry about in 1974 and wish I didn’t have to worry about now. I had all the information I needed at hand, just look at the back of the baseball card. Now, it didn’t have any information on number of games bet on, but that’s a whole other story.
So, here’s my advice to all of you. When the news of today gets you down and wondering, find something to take you back to a simpler time. For me, that’s a trip to Aisle 15.