One of the best parts of card collecting, for me, is that it connects me with my childhood. I can't imagine what it would be like to collect as an adult but not as a kid. That's such a weird concept.
For those of you who are in touch with your inner child (there are too few of those people, I believe), you probably have cards in which the very sight of them takes you back to what you felt, heard and saw when you had that card as a kid. It is a major emotional rush. At least it is for me.
I have replayed those cardboard emotions in my head so many times that the actual moment is often lost, clouded by a series of memories repeated by a 40-year-old man.
Fortunately, there are still triggers that will take me immediately to my childhood days. For each of the five senses, I can think of one particular instance that will tap into my 10-year-old self and everything that I was thinking at the time.
Here they are:
1. Taste: An Oscar Mayer baloney sandwich with ketchup. I have not had Oscar Mayer baloney since I was a kid. I don't ever want to have it again. I also can't remember the last time I used ketchup. Mustard is always preferred where ketchup was once king. But at the time, OM baloney smothered in ketchup was a fact of life. If my daughter happens to have one (although she's moving on from the baloney stage), I'm tempted to take a bite.
2. Smell: The wooden interiors of my closets in my bedroom in the house where I grew up. When we moved into that house, I was 6 years old. I thought the closets were the coolest thing in the house. The closets in the bedroom were connected. They would extend back for what seemed like miles and connect to each other so you could go in one closet and come out another. The closets also connected to the attic. Damn, that was cool. Anyway, when my parents weren't noticing, we'd travel through the closets and smell the wood along the way. It was the smell of adventure in a new home.
3. Touch: It has to be courduroy. Courduroy was everywhere in the 1970s. Pants. Pillows. Jackets. Stuffed animals. As prevalent as it was, it also gave me the willies, kind of like nails on a chalkboard. And that was unfortunate because I think 80 percent of my wardrobe was courduroy at one point. What a miserable childhood I had.
4. Hearing: Well, I'd say it was a tie. It's between this:
If you don't know the artist in the first video, Sweet was your typical glam rock group of the early 1970s. Fox on the Run, Ballroom Blitz, etc. I remember hearing Little Willy when I was in second grade. It was quite the popular song among 7-year-olds. I'm sure that's exactly the audience Sweet wanted.
The second video is a major flashback for me. I was a hopeless Saturday morning kids show junkie. Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, Land of the Lost, Josie & the Pussycats in Outerspace, and the show in the video, Big John Little John. It looks absolutely awful now, but I loved it as a kid. Wow, were we suckers in the '70s.
5. Sight: I could go with a lot of things here, especially several baseball cards. But I'm going with the card at the top of the post, the 1974 Topps Eddie Leon.
The other cards with childhood connections are very dear, but the Leon holds a special path to the time when I was 9 years old.
As I've mentioned before, I started collecting cards for the first time in 1975. But the first time I ever owned cards was in 1974, when my mother bought us some cello packs of 1974 Topps. We enjoyed the cards for a few months and then tossed all of them in the garbage when the baseball season ended because we thought that's what you did.
At least I thought we tossed all of them.
My brother actually kept one. It was the Leon card. I don't know why he kept it. He probably doesn't know why. It might have been a mistake and the card was overlooked when we were ridding ourselves of the '74s.
Several years after the '74s were tossed, I spotted the '74 card in my brother's collection and memories of that set came flooding back. Then I forgot about the card again.
Five years ago, when I was trying to put the complete 1974 set together. I spotted the Leon card for the first time since it was in my brother's collection. The memories came flooding back again.
Eddie Leon, a run-of-the-mill infielder who played for a team that has never meant that much to me, has the honor of bringing out the kid in me after all these years.
Fortunately, he looks a lot cooler than Big John and Little John.