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The preschool era

I once called the cards that make up the 1970 Topps set "kindergarten cards," as that's the year I started kindergarten.

But that's not completely accurate. The pictures my mom took tell me I didn't start school until September of 1970. If card availability in 1970 was anything like it was during the mid-to-late '70s, there were no cards to buy when I was riding the big, yellow bus for the first time.

It's a little more accurate to call 1970 Topps "preschool cards." The cards from 1968-70 are "preschool cards" and the cards from 1966-67 are "toddler cards." The 1965 Topps set is my "birth year set" and anything from 1971 forward, well, that's the "buried in homework" era.

Not that long ago a guy named Ken contacted me and offered up a few cards from the "toddler" and "preschool" eras, specifically 1967 and 1970 Topps, two sets that feature want lists on my blog because supposedly I am collecting them.

(Bill Hepler here took the only opportunity he had to scrawl his signature for a baseball card to dot the I in his name with a star. Then baseball cards never heard from him again).

The 1967 set happened to arrive the same year that I have my earliest memory. I shocked my mother once by telling her that I remember when I was not even 2 years old, lying on my back in a crib, staring at the ceiling in a strange room. I described the room for her and she confirmed my memory, naming where I was and whose house it was (none of which I now remember).

That is all I remember from those preschool days. I see photographs of me celebrating preschool birthdays or opening gifts at Christmas and nothing in those pictures rings a bell, not even most of the gifts that I received at the time.

(Dave Bristol is as elated as a manager gets, while Jimmy Coker looks miserable in his gum-stained uniform).
That memory of that room as a 2-year-old is almost all I recall from the 1960s. My next earliest memories aren't until I've reached the preschool class that I briefly attended when I was four.

I recall walking through the class looking for some toy. I don't think I was in that class more than a week so I don't know what happened there. The other memories from that time, visiting my cousins and making friends with a couple of girls who would be my friends for the next decade-plus, are the only other remnants from that time.

By the time we get to kindergarten, I can fill in a few more details, although, again, there likely were no 1970 cards around when I was listening to story time in Mrs. Hughes class. During the spring of my kindergarten year, some nifty-looking black-bordered cards, called "1971 Topps" were arriving in stores. But I didn't know that.

So I'll stick with 1970 Topps here while I add a few more "interesting to me" remembrances of my kindergarten days.
The school I went to was called the Broad Street School. Yup, it was named after a street, nobody wanted to attach their name to it. I recall walking up the steps inside the school, and the fear of being lost. I went there for the one year and then moved on to another school for first through sixth grade. We moved back into my kindergarten neighborhood when I was 13 but the Broad Street School was no longer a school. It was business or something.
My two closest friends during that school year were a boy named Raymond and a girl named Robyn. Years later, when we moved back into the neighborhood, I delivered newspapers to Raymond's house, but I never saw him again. Robyn's family actually bought the house we lived in when I was in kindergarten. Then we moved back into the neighborhood two houses away! I'd see her from time to time, we were both teenagers at this point, but what you did as a 5-year-old isn't much for restarting a relationship.

Three things I distinctly remember from inside our kindergarten classroom that year:

1. We were learning to identify our names in written form. So each day at the start of class Mr. Hughes would call out our names during attendance and raise a piece of cardboard with our name on it. Next to the name was a particular color and shape so we could identify the shape and know that was our name. My shape was a black circle.

2. Playing with trucks on the floor of the classroom, crawling along the floor with the trucks near the tables where we sat. I'm sure there were "vrooom, vroom" noises.

3. The paste. Glue for various craft projects was a blob of paste that looked like mashed potatoes, plopped on a square of a brown paper towel. And, yup, a couple of the kids were paste-eaters (Not me).

That's all I could tell you from that time. A month into my first year of kindergarten, the Orioles beat the Reds in the World Series. I don't remember that. I don't remember the Pirates beating the Orioles in 1971 either.

I didn't even know what baseball was when I was in kindergarten and knowledge of the World Series wouldn't happen until 1975 -- when I saw the '74 World Series on my baseball cards and when I saw snippets of the '75 World Series on television.

Those are pretty much all my memories from kindergarten and before that.

I mentioned last spring that I was scanning the many photos that my mom and dad took over a 50-year period. I've accumulated a bunch that are important/relevant to me and I'm now down to the final photo album.

Probably the most interesting photos to me are the ones from that preschool time or even before I was born, simply because I don't remember the time and those pictures look like what I see in movies and TV shows.

That's why cards from the 1960s and early 1970s interest me, too. They give you glimpse of a time that you didn't know. What was life like then? Those baseball cards will show you.

(Right-hand men ... yes, I know that's a "Hamilton" song. No, I haven't watched "Hamilton". Not a Broadway musical guy).

That's the car my mom drove when she was 22. It's far cooler than anything I drove at that age.

(We didn't care about miscuts then).

So, if you've gotten this far, thanks for reading my scattered brain exercise.

I have just about all of the photos from my parents photo albums scanned and will get them on a flash drive in the next week or so. Then I'll try to convince one of my brothers to take the photo albums off my hands -- there are plenty of pictures of them and their kids in there, too! We'll see how that goes.

They don't want to miss out on gems like this.


I take it you and Robyn didn't play Dr. LOL.
John Sharp said…
My kindergarten year was 1965. I have very few cards from that year, mostly Tigers cards.

Good Job! 👍
CinciCuse Bill said…
I was a k-gartener in '65 too, but didn't start collecting until '70. I have a few hundred cards from that year, including dupes. But there are many 70 Topps cards I've still never seen. The Reds Woody Woodward card shown is one of them - thanks for showing!
Old Cards said…
Just to expand on what the cards show you. life in the 1960s and early 1970s was fantastic! For me, the cards are a reminder. Your Mom's car was very cool,but mine was cooler - a 1967 GTO, 4 speed HO engine. Great cards displayed in this post.
sg488 said…
My kindergarten year was 65 also,but I never saw my first baseball card till 69.
Fuji said…
I may or may not have been a paste eater. I definitely liked the smell of the stuff though. And it's nice to see what the 67T Bristol should look like. The copy I own was decorated with Sharpie and is considered more of a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
Fuji, please don't give Topps any ideas.
Billy Kingsley said…
Nice 1960 Impala. Top of the line Chevrolet at that time.
bryan was here said…
My kindergarten year was 1976. Wasn't into baseball cards yet, but I do have a vague memory of getting a pack of the Autos of '77 at the Ben Franklin store in town. I was all about cars back then, my Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Tomy Pocket Cars consuming my playtime.

I also remember getting the Tudor Games NFL Football game that year from my uncle. The one where the field buzzed and the players went around in circles. I believe it's still in my mum's attic.
Bo said…
My kindergarten year was 1982 and I don't remember as much as you do. My one distinct memory is parading around the school in our costumes for Halloween and thinking the sixth graders just looked so huge.
Tim Tak said…
Interesting topic and as usual, really entertaining. The line “They give you a glimpse of a time that you didn’t know. What was life like then?” resonated most with me as lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been intrigued by events from the mid-60s to 1970--sports- and non-sports-related--because my only memories of that time consist of being a kid and school.
For reference, 1966-67 was my kindergarten year and the 1970 set was my first exposure to trading cards…as well as becoming familiar with sports in general (yes, kind of a late bloomer...I blame Hot Wheels for that, but that’s another story). Btw, that Steve Huntz card…wonder what's the deal with him having a batting glove on his throwing hand (especially when he doesn't have one on his glove hand). Did batting gloves even exist in 1969?
Nick said…
Part of the reason I love vintage so much is that each individual card is like a separate window into an era way before my time. I can't imagine any other hobby does that better than baseball cards.

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