Growing up in a recently developed subdivision in the 60’s brought not only new homes to the area, but a host of new kids to turn into old friends. Honestly, some of those “youngsters” and I are still friends today and although 50 plus years may have past, we remain close.
It was a neighborhood that was close too…close to each other and full of an innocence I miss. We knew which dads worked at the “Big Three” and we knew whose mom would let us play inside on a rainy day. We played baseball in “the field” and tag in the backyard. We played hopscotch on the sidewalk and dug in the ditches with the Tonka Trucks. And we rode our bikes. Up and down and all around the cul de sac. On occasion, when we could get a friend to go with us and we were fortunate enough to have an extra quarter burning a hole in our pockets, we made a trip up to the corner store to buy baseball cards.
As the shoebox collection grew, so did the desire to trade those doubles. What was I going to do with two pieces of cardboard showcasing guys that weren’t even on my beloved Tigers? I know I could have used them in the spokes of my bike and enjoyed the sound on my way to get the next new pack, but I was only allowed to do that once. I thought the best thing was to have all Tigers cards (I have since broadened my horizons to include other players) so why not trade my cards with the other young collectors on the block?
Stuffed into my white, plastic daisy-covered bike basket, that old brown Flings shoebox made its rounds with me as I traded cards with the kids on the block. Part of this innocence was not only founded in the time I grew up, but also in my upbringing. Because I was taught to be honest and not to cheat, it never occurred to me to that someone else would, especially not a friend. Especially not a new friend. Especially not Billy.
One night when I was called home to dinner, I thought nothing of leaving my shoebox at his house so that he could look at the cards to see if there were any that he wanted to trade. During dinner I remember my parents saying that I shouldn’t have left my cards there. A nervous pit began growing in my stomach. No sooner was dinner finished then I rushed back to the corner house, grabbed my shoebox and hoofed it home. Of course, upon taking the lid off of that little brown box, all looked as it should.
Things are not always what they seem though. Somehow I ended up with a bunch of pitchers with little value to them, that were “traded” in my absence, much like “a player to be named later”. I still have a hard time believing that someone would be dishonest so I maintain that this is due to pitchers being more numerous in general. Still, one card was missing. One very special card. One Mickey Mantle.
Like his namesake, Billy the Kid was a thief. While he did not steal strongboxes from stagecoaches, he stole from a little kid’s shoebox full of treasures. Not too long after that, Billy’s family moved. I guess they were on the lamb, running from the law of “what goes around comes around”…aka Karma. No matter, Billy. Mickey, through the magic of eBay, has come home once again. Only this time, he rests in a penny sleeve and a top loader inside a true strongbox, along with my trusting nature. You can’t have either one of them.~ Cheryl