(Yes, the post title is supposed to be funny.)
It's been raining all day today. (By this time of year in Chicago, I'm surprised that it's not snowing yet.) To pass the time on days like these, I like to just flip through a random binder and admire my collection.
However, I took a bit of a different approach today. Some of my best vintage cards are framed and displayed on my wall in my room. I decided to take some of them down and try to remember where I got them. This was the first card I looked at.
My 1965 Topps Ernie Banks. As far as baseball cards go, the above card is my earliest memory. I remember bringing it to school in 3rd grade to show my teacher and all my friends. (I brought it along with my stack of Yu-gi-oh cards.)
I got it from a local card shop called Graf's. Some of my best childhood memories are tied to that store. Whenever my dad had a day off of work, we'd take the two buses up and spend the day there. Or if we got up early on a Saturday my mom would drive us there. They had $1 packs from the 1990s and early 2000s. They had a big 6/$1 bin. They had everything, as far as I was concerned. They also used to have a little box of discounted vintage on the counter, and that's where the '65 Ernie Banks came from.
Going to Graf's was a major event back then. It still would be today, too, but the store closed down a few years back. Just another casualty of the diminishing hobby. It still pains me that the last time I went to Graf's, it was during my year-long hockey card collecting phase, and that's all I bought. Hockey cards. Not baseball, the national pastime, but hockey. Oh well. I guess life's funny that way sometimes.
From the outside, it just looks like a simple baseball card store. But it was so much more than that. It was my childhood paradise.