By Mark Carpenter –
It’s a Saturday night and I have the whole house to myself, well unless you count the dog who only knows I am here when I have food. I have hunkered down in the man cave, a room we added to our home about a decade ago, basically to contain my overflow of sports memorabilia. I happen to have a whole lot of both.
It’s funny how when you just start looking around a room, that so many memories can flash through your mind. Let me take you down memory lane in my man cave. Sitting here in the room’s recliner, I first see a two-shelf bookcase, that holds a series of books that every kid should have read in the 70’s, that being the Chip Hilton and Bronc Burnett series (Google it folks). Also there is one of my favorites, “The Open Man” by Dave Debusschere at a time when the NBA was worth watching, plus biographies of Bob Cousy, Pete Maravich, Lou Holtz, Jackie Robinson, and some fellow locals will recognize, Bevo Francis (Google again young folks). Below that is a whole shelf of family photo albums and below that a whole bunch of VHS tapes of junior high basketball games from decades ago, with no VCR to even watch them.
It is tough to describe the closet that comes next. A shelf across the top holds the 30 or so hooded sweatshirts in my possession, my favorite fall and winter attire. Hidden behind them are about four or five boxed filled with nothing but Michael Jordan basketball cards. Below is the massive t-shirt collection that I may never live long enough to wear them all-the number eclipses triple digits easily. Under that are a whole bunch of boxes and tubs, filled with baseball cards and all the programs, yearbooks, and magazines that have accumulated over the years, most of those from the 70’s too.
Move to the left and view the entertainment center, which wisely on our part was purchased with a lot of shelving. The television at the moment is tuned to an old episode of “The Rifleman” (baseball connection there too), while the surrounding shelves hold more photo albums (we used to have to develop pictures you know), numerous autographed baseballs (Musial is my prize there), bobbleheads, figurines, and a statue of Roger Staubach.
A shelf to the right of that holds one of the more unique pieces of the collection, and one of the best Christmas presents my parents ever gave me-a set of figures of the 1975 Reds that one must see to appreciate. Below that are more autographed baseballs and bobbleheads and two more bookshelves, with novels from two great authors, Vince Flynn and David Baldacci, plus more sports titles such as a classic on the 75 World Series called “Game Six.”
Next comes a few shelves of music CD’s, most from the 70’s because any reasonable thinking person knows that there has not been any good music made since then.
Glancing behind me, I spot the biggest bookshelf in the room, which is totally populated by binders of baseball cards, everything from complete sets to binders of autographed photos, including of course those from Mayberry. Continue your tour and you will find another set of binders stacked behind a love seat (which at the moment is covered with baseball caps and baseball cards), and these binders are quite valuable-they hold our collections of all our kids “stuff” from when they were in elementary and middle school. Next to that is a tub overflowing with their stuff from high school and beyond, someday I will get to organizing that one.
Also behind the love seat is a large blue trunk that holds a big piece of my childhood- it is filled with boxes of baseball, basketball, and football cards from the 1970s. I guess most of them in the trunk would be what the collectors call “commons”, but I call every one of them a memory. Situated right behind me recliner is the desk that I used growing up. Many a homework assignment was completed there while of course listening to 70s music, but at the moment it is also covered with as many different types of memorabilia as you might imagine. I’ll get to them someday too.
Last but not least, you will see two more bookshelves, one of them holding what I consider the most valuable cards in my collection, a 1956 Jackie Robinson, a 1954 Ted Williams, a 1965 Willie Mays, and well you get the picture. The other book shelf is full of VHS tapes and DVD’s. Of what you might ask? Nearly every ball game that my kids ever played in and every Christmas, etc. If you don’t have a shelf of those in your home, you have certainly missed out. Someday those will move from my house to their houses (made two copies of everything), but for now they are all mine, more memories.
You may wonder where there is any room for people in this “man cave” and I will tell you that there is not. I don’t want people-it’s my place of escape. Superman has his Fortress of Solitude, Batman had the Bat Cave, so I have my place too. My room of thought, my room of memories.
I am certainly not writing all this to brag at all, many of you have “man caves” and collections far superior to mine. What I hope for all of you is that you take a moment to sit down in your recliner, look around you, and just soak in the moment. Look around your room and remember that every item in sight has a story or shares a memory. Enjoy your own Fortress of Solitude.