My aunt worked for Time Life Magazine, so growing up we’d get some unique toys at Christmas time.
One year she gave two of my brothers a pint each of Polo cologne.
They in turn passed it onto me. I didn’t shave yet, so I still had about half of a bottle when I did start shaving.
Another time we received pictures of moon rocks. I guess in retrospect, it looked a bit like a postcard, but the thought was certainly there.
Another year she gave my brothers a unique razor that she said the astronauts had used. It had a small razor head about the size of a quarter and a huge spring inside it that required it to be wound.
My brothers mostly used the disposable ones when they did shave, so I was given one of them.
Of course, the first thing I did was to take it apart to see how it worked. It had a large spring and about 50 cogs and gears in it.
It was nifty.
Since I didn’t shave, I re-purposed mine into a portable fan by adding a fan blade to it. Very cool.
In 1976, my aunt gave us a few signed World Series baseballs.
She was good friends with the then-baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn. We’d always get a lot of stuff from my aunt, so not realizing the importance of these items, they were put in the baseball bag with our bats, balls, and gloves.
I used one of the signed balls when my friends wanted to play ball in the local field.
It was also in 1976 that I got my first autograph book, which was a re-purposed red 1975 day planner, but since I never went to any games, I got autographs from people in the neighborhood who meant something to me.
So, there was an autograph from our mail carrier, my teacher, a few of my friends.
My brother took it upon himself to autograph some extra names in my book.
My dad took me to his job one day and there was a photo of him standing at the top of the George Washington Bridge.
Up to that point, I never really knew what my dad did, but this made it real. He said it was taken when they were painting the bridge.
A few weeks later, my dad had his friends from work over to the house and to me they were celebrities because they were up on that bridge with him.
A signed baseball from — who cares?
I got me a Ray Bolger and a Tony Gomez, two heroes in my book.