One of Fuji’s recent Flea Market Finds posts showed a table that had stacks of junk wax held together with rubber bands… Someone was “old school”, but not in a good way.
…But it reminded me of something from back in 1975…
On Long Island, where I grew up, we got most of our cards from two places… The first place was the “card store”, which is in quotes because the type of store I’m talking about seems to be a uniquely metro New York thing. The “cards” in question were greeting cards, but these stores also sold cigarettes and candy and gifts and magazines and newspapers and the current version of the Official Rule Book of the National Mah Jongg League and various tchotchkes and toys… and trading cards. Kind of like a convenience store, but not really. Kind of like a Hallmark store, but not really. I’ve never known for sure, but I suspect that these stores evolved from New York City newsstands.
The second place we got most of our cards was from the ice cream man. Just like the card stores sold more than greeting cards, the ice cream man sold more than ice cream. Most of them also sold candy and Wacky Packages stickers and baseball cards and other things which were cheap and appealed to kids.
Regardless of where you bought your cards, you usually had three options. If you had a dollar, you could buy two rack packs (84 cards), 4 cello packs (72 cards) or 6 wax packs (60 cards plus a dime left over).
But during the summer of 1975 there was this one ice cream man who had something different. Something exciting.
He sold stacks of 100 baseball cards for a buck each.
The stacks were sold out of his truck, held together with a thick rubber band… Not that we cared. I was one of the few kids who didn’t use a rubber band to hold his cards together…but I was too excited at the prospect of getting a big ol’ stack of cards for a dollar to worry about some rubber band.
To say the least, it was AWESOME. You didn’t need to be on the Honor Roll to know that a penny a card was cheaper than any of the other options.
But it was just this one guy… and just this one year. I don’t remember if I saw him again in 1976, but if he did come around again, he didn’t have those stacks of cards.
I don’t know how many of those stacks I bought, but it’s probably not a coincidence that I completed the 1975 set before the calendar turned over to 1976.
The funny thing is, it wasn’t until many, many years later that it even occurred to me that this guy might’ve been pulling out stars or Mets or Yankees. My stacks could’ve been as common-filled as the images that go with this post.
But it just didn’t matter. I guess this was my first experience with buying in bulk, and for a kid trying to complete a set, quantity was definitely more important than quality.