Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lost and Found

While tidying up my apartment, a task I have undertaken to forestall losing my current romantic interest, I have come across a considerable amount of forgotten ephemera from various trips along the baseball byways.

I avoided looking too closely at most of it, a potential distraction from my chore. However, a handful of items did catch my eye. An eight-by-ten glossy photograph of the 24 (as of 2012?) astronauts from Ohio? What did I think I was going to do with that? It's gone now, just like John H. Glenn, Jr. (first row, third from right).

There are also a slew of postcards, most still in the gift shop bags. One shows Vulcan, the largest cast iron statue in the world, as it appeared at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.

There are three from the National Museum of the Pacific War, featuring paintings by the late Robert McCall. Very dramatic, but to whom does one mail such a card and on what occasion?

Detail, "Japanese 'Kite' torpedo planes dive on U.S. battleships.
Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941."

The postcards from the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the author's boyhood home, are no more interesting than our 2007 tour of the national landmark. Why did I buy them if the site was a bore and the cards unattractive? My only guess is, email not yet dominant, I actually intended to mail them.

Most interesting to me are the trip-planning documents that survived. The itinerary from our first trip, in 2002, consists of a one-page table, a column per day and five rows; day and date, morning activity, afternoon activity, baseball game, and lodging. Later itineraries would be pages long, with every stop and alternate destination listed and hyperlinked, all supplemented by numerous maps.  How quaint that first guide.

Especially fascinating to me is a hand-drawn map of the teams near Lake Erie. I drew several of these to illustrate potential itineraries for possible travel partners, Melvin and Red in particular. This one must have been drawn in late-2002, early-2003, because it includes the London Monarchs, who played in the sole, truncated season of the independent Canadian Baseball League.

The maps were not an affectation. I was not yet familiar with Hedberg Maps' Baseball Travel Map, first published in 1999 and later an indispensable tool. And Google Maps did not debut until 2005, although it already seems like the tool has been available forever. Our trip planning has always begun with geographic adjacencies.

The vintage of the map and the itinerary—ah, memories; "You'll just love the Mingo."—are evidence I have finally dug down to boxes untouched since I separated from my wife. That I have done so for the reason I did makes the title of this post an unintentional double entendre.

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