John Grindrod: Giving Serious Thought to Divesting My Youth

Last fall I happened to catch a Howard Stern interview with someone who certainly is in the conversation as his generation’s greatest troubadour, Bruce Springsteen. In the captivating two-hour interview that covered such a wide range of topics, one portion got me thinking about something more deeply that periodically has crossed my mind over the years.

Springsteen discussed his decision to sell the rights to his songs to Sony Music. Stern responded that when he heard there was a possibility of that happening, he thought it would never happen because that would be like Springsteen’s selling his own children. Springsteen’s response was that it was a timing thing. At his age of 73, he just felt it was time to monetize what he’d worked so hard to create.

That part of the interview stuck with me for quite a long time. The reason being, I suppose, is I’m of a similar age and perhaps it might be a time in my life where I gave up some things I’ve had for decades, some things that, once upon a time, I cherished.

Of course, since I’m certainly not an artist on the level of, say, a Springsteen in music or a Rockwell in painting, I don’t really have anything that I’ve created that I haven’t already sold or have entered into contract to sell, which would be the words I’ve written or will write, at least until I feel there’s nothing more to say.

So, it would have to be something I was either given or bought that over time has grown in value, of course, on a far smaller scale than the music now owned by Sony Music. Sources have reported Sony paid in the neighborhood of a half billion dollars for the song rights.

Yes, there are indeed some things I should, at my age, seriously consider monetizing since what benefits there once were in possessing them are so very long ago, as in somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty years. At one time they were priceless to me, and each time I got new ones. I studied every detail on both the fronts and backs of each one I received. I often took them with me when I left the house to see my childhood mates and also used them as tradable items to obtain others I deemed more desirable.

I’m pretty sure especially my gentlemen readers have surmised by now what those items are that brought me such joy in my elementary school years, items I still have yet rarely ever look at now. Unlike other men my age who didn’t have the foresight to take them when they left the home in which they were raised and lost them to a mother’s compulsion to de-clutter the house, I did leave with them.

Yes, they were the currency of my early 1960s with my mates and, in a way, the way we measured ourselves against each other. They were, and still are my baseball cards. On the fronts of those cards, there are the faces of men once my heroes and on the backs their report cards so to speak, a line for each year they’d played to that point in their career with numbers listed that defined their abilities.

The cards now actually aren’t even easily accessible, stored in a safe in a different location, so even if I thought there was any measure of pleasure I would derive from looking at them again, to begin the process, I’d have to grab my car keys and head for the door.

Now, I haven’t really been an adult collector or enthusiast beyond attending a couple of card shows over the years, and, to be honest, since I’ve never been willing to pay the 20 to 25 bucks per card to have them professionally graded, I don’t really know what they’re worth. They were my childhood treasures and, given their age of sixty or so years, I think they’re in pretty darned good shape although surely not mint.

I think what’s stopped me from selling them a long time ago is the thought that doing so would be like selling some of the fondest of my life’s memories, ones of my childhood bestie, Jimmy Fry, and I riding our Schwinns to Westgate and Grant’s Drugs in the throes of anticipatory delight as to what players we might be adding to our collections once we plunked down our change. Once paid for, often, we couldn’t even wait to leave the store before we tore open the wax pack.

Our nostrils would instantly fill with the sweet smell that emanated from that pink Bazooka rectangle dusted with a bit of powdered sugar that came with each pack, and we shuffled the cards praying for a Mantle, Mays, Aaron or Koufax and not another Julio Gotay or Bob Shaw. We already had enough of those two to wallpaper our bedrooms.

So, perhaps Springsteen is right about divesting what once were treasures and taking a profit once septuagenarian status is accorded. While his treasures were worth hundreds of millions, mine will only be somewhere in the thousands. Nonetheless, maybe it’s time in 2023 to say goodbye to the last tangible part of the boy I left behind so very long ago.

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected].