Sunday, April 20, 2014

Baseball Cards on Easter

Today is Easter Sunday. Like most holidays, it stirs up memories for me.

My memories are unique to the holidays themselves, of course, and where I spent them. Obviously, they aren't the same memories others have. They probably aren't even the same memories my brother has — and we spent every holiday together when we were growing up.

For example, Christmas brings back memories of cold nights spent in the enveloping warmth of my grandmother's beds. I guess others have similar memories — I hope they do, because Valentine's Day reminds me of heart–shaped cards no bigger than a child's fist and no more significant (when I was growing up, we had to give such cards to every person in the class), but, even absent much in the way of sincerity, it still kind of made me feel special to get them.

I always associate Labor Day with the start of the school year and the start of the football season. Oh, and the Jerry Lewis telethon, too. Summer weather never began to ease off in Arkansas until October so I have no mental link between Labor Day and cooler temperatures the way some people who grew up farther to the North probably do — but we knew cooler weather was coming. Labor Day was always a promissory note that milder temperatures were on the way.

Although I grew up in Arkansas, my grandparents lived in Texas, and we often spent Christmas with them. Easter was a different matter. My memory is that we didn't spend many Easters with my grandparents — but we did spend a few, and what I remember more than anything is that it always seemed to rain in Dallas on Easter.

(There is a 30% chance of rain in Dallas today, but it's been a sunny day so far.)

Wherever we spent Easter, my mother made a production out of it — as she did with everything, really. She planned elaborate treasure hunts for my brother and me on Easter — with cleverly written clues inside and out. We lived on a lake in Arkansas, and treasure hunts there were astonishing. My brother and I raced in and out of the house in search of the next treasure.

Things were more confined in my grandmother's city house with its postage stamp–sized back yard, but the hunts were just as elaborate.

Easter candy could always be found on the treasure hunts (which sometimes had to be moved indoors at virtually the last minute because of the unpredictable spring weather), but I have been reminded today of one Easter when I must have been 10 or 11 years old. I say that because I was in the grip of my baseball and football card addiction.

Mom was an enabler that Easter. Many of Mom's treasure hunt clues led us to packages of baseball cards, and my memory is that I added some stars to my collection who would have been great as a fantasy baseball lineup if such a thing had existed at the time.

(It's a good thing for me that fantasy sports didn't exist in those days.)

That particular Easter was warm and sunny, a beautiful day for a treasure hunt — and finding a bounty of baseball cards. I've been remembering that day with considerable fondness on this Easter.

Other Easters in Dallas weren't quite so pleasant. There were times, as I say, when Mom's treasure hunts had to be moved indoors. My grandmother's house had a screened–in front porch, and I have a vivid memory of sitting on that porch with my brother and my grandmother while it rained on Easter. One or two of the treasures were hidden on that porch. It's as close to being outdoors as we were allowed to get.

It's a good thing Mom never opened the packages of baseball cards when she left them as treasures. That front porch got wet even with the screen, and baseball cards didn't mix well with water.

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