My most treasured card: a 1963 Mickey Mantle Jell-O

1963 Jello 15 Mickey Mantle, front

This is currently my most treasured card. You may not think it at first glance, but it is. Apart from the rounded corners, frayed edges, and glorious wreckage on the card’s front, perhaps the detail that I cherish most is the handwritten note on back—which is the primary reason I overspent (at $30).

1963 Jello 15 Mickey Mantle, back

It took me quite some time to decipher the message’s meaning. Mesmerized, I stared at it, lost all sense of time, poured a glass of whiskey, and returned to stare some more. . . . Then I put myself in the mind of a youngster in the early 60s, broke some rules of grammar and syntax, and, finally, I understood: “A moonman gave me this card. [But] where he got a[n] earthly ballplayer[,] search[…] me.”

After I came to a literal understanding of this note, then I began to consider more about the potential back story. Of course in light of  a historical context of the space race, nearly every young boy in this era must have had “moon men” on the brain. And as for the card’s apparent mysterious origin in the eyes of its curious owner: I could perfectly imagine the scene of the card suddenly materializing out of nowhere one morning, the strange cosmic artifact simply lying on the child’s pillow accompanied by a father’s elaborate breakfast table tale–some weird, rather creative variation on the tooth fairy.

However you read or interpret this, it is pure found poetry. And it just happens to be written on back of a Mickey Mantle!


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