Monday, June 10, 2024

Good ol’ May 25th

When May 25th rolls around now I get a bit cranky and sometimes sad. That day happens to be my birthday. Usually, folks love to celebrate the day they were born and for me, well I used to. After a string of awful birthdays in my 20’s due to some mean ex-girlfriends, a party when I was 20 where I had to hide from the police in someone’s crawl space and my nephew being born the very next day (May 26th) back in 2006, and I rarely celebrated anymore as it was my nephew’s time for the spotlight. My family would usually have a big celebration for him and my birthday kinda got pushed to the side. I get it, I’m older, so it’s basically going to be my nephew's weekend to celebrate. I hadn't been upset by this at all until my wife started asking why my family never celebrates my birthday. She noted that in the past year we celebrated for my mom and dad's birthday, nephew's birthday, brother’s birthday, sister-in-laws birthday and even celebrated my wife's birthday. I told her how I was pretty used to it. So, when May 25th rolls around, I usually just ask my mom to make me a lasagna. I would cut out 3 large slices, put them on plates in the fridge and put the rest of the lasagna in my freezer to eat anytime I had the craving, and that's how I celebrated. No fanfare, just lasagna.  

Last year during my birthday (2023 - I know this blog post is a bit late), I got a strange call from my dad around 9am while I was at work saying, “We need to talk!” Not “Happy Birthday!” Nope, none of that. I asked what he wanted to talk to me about, but he said we would talk after I was done with work. A few minutes later my wife popped her head in my office to let me know she may have accidentally stirred up some family drama with my dad while she was dropping off the kids for the day at my parents' house. So, after my work shift was over, I headed over to my parents' house to get the family drama over with. If you have read my blog, I do not like family drama and tend to stay far away from any of it. When I arrived at my parent's place, my dad started pointing a finger at me and yelling. My dad and I had a few heated exchanges and eventually hugged it out. He realized what my wife said to him was true and both of my parents had felt horrible about the whole ordeal (that I won't even get into on here, but yeah, my wife was right). Then, my mom handed me a birthday card and told me they forgot to get me a gift. No big deal for me. I’m not about gifts, just a simple acknowledgement is enough for me, but my mom also forgot to make my lasagna. I was pretty upset about the lasagna to be honest, but I just sucked it up, got the kids packed up and I headed home. We didn’t have cake or ice cream that night either or any sort of celebration. Nope, my wife worked until 8pm and then the awful company I used to work for made me log back on to work and I put in 2 more hours until 10pm. After my OT shift, I jumped in the shower and then went to bed. It was just another crappy day. 

A week later when I was picking up my kids at my parent's place, my dad hands me a bubble mailer and says, “I felt really awful about not getting you anything for your birthday and your mom feels even worse about the lasagna. We usually go all out for your brother’s birthday every year and it really hasn’t been fair to you for years. I hope you like this gift.” I asked him if I should open it there or wait, and he said he wanted to see my face so open it immediately. This was one of the best birthday gifts ever!

1909-11 T206 Sweet Caporal Doc Marshall PSA 4

What makes this card special is Doc Marshall is my great uncle. I never met him, neither had my dad, but I heard stories about what a great man he was from Doc’s sister (my great grandmother). Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my great grandmother (or Grammie as we called her). She was old, but I found her interesting! She certainly loved the snot out of me. My parents had a hard time finding cheap, reliable babysitters when my brother and I were kids, so a lot of times, we would get dropped off at her house. Of course, you couldn’t eat the cheese from her fridge (due to mold) and you had to jiggle the handle if you flushed her toilet, and if you sat in any of the furniture in her “sitting room” your butt would get smacked for sure! One afternoon in 1987, my parents dropped only me off with my great grandmother because my brother was having his first sleep over with his new friend Danny and my mom and dad wanted to go out for a nice dinner alone. During this visit, I decided to bring the famous “boot box” full of cards my grandfather had found in a field. I could spend hours looking at the photos and sorting them. That day "Grammie" decided to look at some of the cards with me. This is the day she would tell me about her brother William. 

William “Doc” Marshall was a schoolteacher and later on a doctor who grew up with my great grandmother in Butler, PA. She told me how he went to 4 different colleges (Grove City, Slippery Rock, Penn and a med school back in Chicago). During his baseball career, he would suit up for the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Giants, Boston Beaneaters, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and the Brooklyn Superbas. I guess during his career he made a promise to my great grandmother that he would get her a spoon from each city he played in or visited for vacation or for whatever reason. Once his career came to an end, he gave her a huge haul of these spoons. She got up from her chair and walked back into the “sitting room” and opened a drawer in the China cabinet. She asked me to come help her with these 2 wooden boxes. I grabbed both and we went back into the living room. When the boxes were opened, there they were…the spoons! She could see my eyes flash with pure excitement! Here I am looking at spoons that my great uncle (who now was a celebrity in my eyes) had once had in his possession. So cool! She went on to tell me stories about when they were kids, about how he was always kind and how he would practice at a baseball field right down the street from where I currently live now with Honus Wagner! Wow! We had such a great time that day and I really believe that day brought she and I closer together. After that day, I would frequently ask her about him, and she just loved to talk and tell me stories about when they were little kids. 

In April 1994, my great grandmother sadly passed away. It was the first time I had experienced death. A few months after she had passed, my parents came home with a bag. My dad called me into his bedroom and said, “I have no idea why and this caused a fight between your grandfather and your uncle, but ‘Grammie’ left you the elephant's statue and all Uncle Doc’s spoons in her will. No other great grandchildren received a thing, so make sure you take good care of these.” So, he handed me the bag. I noticed immediately that spoons were missing. I guess my grandfather's brother had taken the spoons he felt were the most valuable and left the rest for me. It’s ok, I still have the leftovers and haven’t sold them off like he probably did! As for the elephant's statue, my "Grammie" she let me hold it once and I told her how special I thought it was. It is currently a staple in my living room. I look at them every single day.



So, this is a story about my Great Uncle Doc and my "Grammie" and how a day in 1987 turned my birthday around in 2023 (although a week late). Crazy how that happens. If I hadn't brought over those baseball cards that day to her house, I probably would have never known about my Great Uncle. Just another day in My Cardboard Life.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Great post... and happy belated birthday. I'm not a big birthday guy either, but it does feel good when the people around you remember. That card is really cool on multiple levels. I mean it's over 100 years old, but the fact that it was a gift from your father makes it 10x cooler. And when you factor in that the guy featured on the card is a relative... that's exponentially cooler.

    I really loved the story about you visiting your great grandmother and spending some time with her and your collection. It's really sweet that she passed down those spoons and the elephant to you... although it's kinda sad that your uncle felt the need to take out a few.

    P.S. I hope your mom made you some of that delicious lasagne this year :D

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how petty certain people become after someone passes. Despite the few that were pilfered, I really like that collection. I found out earlier this year that I'm very distantly related to a former Major Leaguer, and while I have been trying to acquire some of his cards since then, I know that there's zero chance that I'll ever own anything he himself ever owned.

    Also, someday you might have to do a post about this seemingly perfect wife of yours. Every time you mention her in a post, she comes across better than the previous time.