I still have some cards to purchase with birthday money. I wish it wouldn't take me so long to spend money on something I enjoy so much, but you know how life hates cardboard.
When I do finally get those "birthday cards," you can be sure you'll see them. But for now I'd like to relay the tale of how my daughter found a thrift shop that had baseball cards for sale.
How's that for teaser?
"What? How? Who in the world set up a thrift shop in night owl's barren outpost?"
Well, settle down and listen.
So, I always lament to myself whenever someone blogs about their latest thrift shop score, or flea market find or antique market steal. Those things don't exist near me, or if they do, they contain boring stuff like plates and salt shakers and, gracious, people sure have a weird idea of "interesting," don't they?
There is an antique shop on the corner in the city that I've mentioned before. It used to be the city jail many years ago. And when you go in there, it's so dark and scary that you lose all rational thought and are quite sure they are going to lock you up forever unless you run out of there RIGHT NOW.
I don't think there are baseball cards there, but I can't be certain because of all the panic.
I do love thrift shops and antique shops though. It's in my blood. When I go visit my folks, I'll try to stop at the antique stores they pointed out to me many years ago. Sometimes I find cards there. The '72 Topps Yastrzemski in my collection was bought by my mother from one of those stores.
You'd think that given the popularity of going through other people's junk that there would be one of these things on every block in America. But Northern New York, I tell you, is proudly resistant to all kinds of modern conveniences.
That's what I thought anyway, until my birthday arrived. I opened a package from my daughter that behaved very much like a few packs of baseball cards from Target. But when I tore off the paper, I came face to face with this:
"What?" I said to myself. "That's a 1983 card of Jack Morris. What's that doing in my package of 2017 baseball cards?" I immediately started looking for the "Rediscover Topps" stamp.
But it wasn't there and I had no idea what was going on because I KNOW that my daughter doesn't know who Jack Morris is.
I started looking through the other cards in the stack:
These are all cards I know well. But they aren't your average cards from a repack. I looked at my daughter quizzically.
Daughter: "There's a new antique shop in Sackets Harbor."
Me: (stunned silence).
Sakes alive, there's a new antique shop in Sackets Harbor!!
Sackets Harbor is a small town on the lake about eight miles away. It's an easy 15-minute drive. It's a summer touristy place although there isn't much there outside of a lake and a couple of decent restaurants. It's pretty popular though.
There are a handful of shops, the kind of shops that you'd see in any tourist-friendly small town. Here, where we are fairly close to the Adirondacks and New England, there are all kinds of rustic things for sale. Homemade soaps and potholders, books about hiking trails and new age women stuff (sorry for the generic description, I stopped paying attention when I realized what I was viewing).
I stumbled into one of those potholder stores a few days after my daughter told me about the antique shop because it was all that was on my mind from the moment those words left her lips. She couldn't tell me what the shop was called or really where it was on the street (she is notoriously vague about things she doesn't care about -- gee, I wonder who she got that from?). So I walked into a random store, came face to face with jewelry and mood music and knew I was in the wrong place. I received a "what are you doing here" hello from the woman behind the counter and I made a hasty exit.
I turned left and headed toward the lake. There is an old building that used to be a seafood restaurant that is the last store front on that side of the street. It's been empty for awhile. But then I saw the "Antiques" sign. Hot dog, this was it.
(I apologize for going on forever like this, especially to those who can hit an antique shop every day on the way to work).
It was your typical junk shop. Wood floors. Random items thrown on tables everywhere. (Spoons? Who collects spoons?) There were wonderful shelves filled with wonderful things I didn't need. There were toys everywhere. Toy tractors and trucks that looked like they were just taken out of the sandbox. Dirt on the tables, dirt on the floor. A small stack of comic books. Old records. Oh man, if I could collect more than one thing, I'd have purchased half those old records. Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Linda Ronstadt, Lynn Anderson, Cat Stevens.
There was also a stack of old baseball yearbooks and programs, mostly Cubs and Expos. Underneath that, a bunch of old hockey programs.
And next to that was a plastic tub of baseball cards.
Here we were.
There weren't a lot of baseball cards left, it appeared. It was few enough that I could identify all of them. Mid-1980s Topps cards mostly. Fun stuff, but nothing I needed. The man who ran the place finally emerged from some secret door and I asked if there were any other cards. He pointed to a binder that said "basketball cards" on it. I'm not interested in basketball so I didn't look. I probably should have.
So that was it. The thrill was gone.
Unless I wanted to add to my old record collection or my old baseball program collection, there is really no reason to return.
So let's see the other cards that my daughter gave me:
Some more from 1983.
A bunch from 1984.
A few more.
A couple from 1985.
Including one I just posted on my 1985 Topps blog.
There was just one card that I'd consider "junk wax" in the entire stack.
My daughter may not have given me any cards that I needed, but she did give me one thing that is still with me: hope.
There is still hope that the cards in that tub will be replenished, maybe this time with cards I need. And there is the knowledge that this antique shop is just down the road, just a 15-minute drive away, not half a country away on someone else's blog.
There may be no real reason for me to return to that store. But hope will send me there again.
That's a birthday gift in itself.