For support in my old age, I was relying on my two prized possessions: an old pedal car and my baseball cards.
I've had the pedal car virtually my whole life. My parents gave it to me around 1960, when I was 4 years old. Through all the years I've moved as an adult, it's stayed with me, usually stuck in the garage or the basement.
Even though I certainly wouldn't fit in the car now, it has been a source of pride, because I figure it's worth something and because it's been in my family for 50 years. The old blue Champion, made of steel, is far more durable than today's real automobiles. On the few occasions when we had rummage sales, the car always drew attention, even though it wasn't for sale.
But I don't own the car anymore. My good friend and co-worker, Bob Schweigert, took it off my hands.
One day at work, I mentioned I had a pedal car, which got Bob's interest.
I told Bob the car was unique because it's always been owned by the same family. He told me that really isn't that unusual.
When I showed it to him, he told me the car was quickly being overtaken by rust, and he knew what to do about it. He also said it wasn't in the best shape. My kids rode in the car when they were young, so he was probably right. His idea of the car's value wasn't close to what I imagined.
He tried hard to get me to sell it. But after a while, he lost interest. He knows how hard it is for me to part with something — anything, actually.
Eventually, though, I brought it up again. He gave me $100, and I gave him a piece of my childhood.
Why did I sell it? Someday, we'll move again, and who knows what would have happened then? Besides, I have a daughter getting married in two weeks, so I can use all the money I can get.
I don't really regret selling the car, but I noticed that Bob's attitude changed after he got it. The rust problem, he said, wasn't as bad as he thought. He hinted that the car might just possibly have been worth more than $100.
It's not that I think he took me to the cleaners. I just think he's more experienced in the ways of wheeling and dealing than I am. I avoid auctions and rummage sales at all costs. But Bob, like a lot of guys, likes to buy old stuff. Their idea of fun is making a good deal.
It's probably for the best that I sold him the car. I probably would have never touched it again. The car would have just continued to deteriorate as the years went on. Bob is also happy with it.
But I tell him to stay away from my baseball cards, which include lots of great players from the 1960s and even a few from the ’50s. I value those cards, and I don't think I'll be doing any dealing again with Bob anytime soon. I still think those cards are worth thousands of dollars, and newspaper people don't have the pensions that teachers and government employees do.
Bob is in the hunt for another good deal, though. When I left work last week, he said, “Been getting those baseball cards ready?”
Jeff Bahr is an American News reporter. His email address is email@example.com. His phone number is 605-622-2320.