Well Spent Youth


If you happen to have a talented and focused little boy or girl, say about 7 years old and all they want to do with their time is practice drawing, singing, sewing or even the tuba, maybe you don’t want to get in their way. They just might be tuned into their life passions early and encouragement may be the best bet.
Case in point, yours truly. A couple of years ago, after my dad passed, I was working with my brother and sister-in-law, cleaning out our barn, when I found a little package wrapped in a plastic sandwich bag. The bag was buried in amongst some other little boy treasures and contained over one hundred hand-made sports cards.
The cards were mostly drawn on lined notebook paper and were crudely cut out in the shape of trading cards.
The memory came flooding back--crystal clear. I could see myself making these cards during the winter of 1974/75 and into the next year. I would draw whole pages, like uncut sheets, (I had no clue what an uncut sheet was at the time) then carefully cut them out as best I could. I then made wrappers out of construction paper and would insert 7 cards and a stick of Wrigley’s gum (usually Juicy Fruit if I recall correctly). I taped up the packs and set off to visit the neighborhood kids and sell the packs for 7 cents a piece. Topps cards were going for about 15 cents a pack at the time, and since mine did not look nearly as good, I figured half price was a good deal.
I went so far as to include insert cards. In the plastic bag, I found coupons that if returned, could be redeemed for an additional 5 or 10 cards from the series. I drew cards from all sports, mostly baseball, football and hockey, but the one that absolutely cracked me up was the card for curling. Yes, you read correctly, curling--that funny winter bumper shoot sport from way up north in the ‘olt country. When I found the curling cards, I instantly remembered being 8 years old and watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports and being introduced one winter Saturday afternoon to curling. Apparently I was smitten enough to create cards to honor the sport.
I remembered being happiest when I was drawing cards or creating my other favorite passion--comic books. I mention all this because now, at 44, I still spend time creating my own actual sized sketched trading cards, hand-painted baseballs, hand -painted trading cards and working on cards for nationally printed sets. I have even had a couple of my own comic stories printed through Dark Horse Comics. My two favorite childhood passions have blossomed into a career.
The next time you see a child feverishly practicing some craft, encourage them--they may very well be honing their future job skills.

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