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Monday, July 22, 2024


A Letter to My Grandson 4.12.2006

By Rick Racela

A letter to my grandson, Matthew:
Hey Matthew!
Why does everybody say “hey?” It used to be “Hi.”
But that’s not why I write.
I understand you had a “boy-girl party” at your house the other day.
The reason I know is that your mother was complaining how much her calves hurt from  going up and down the stairs to the basement family room to “check.”
This will astound you, but frequent parties were unheard of when I was a kid. Nowadays, the first party starts at six months and every birthday brings a bigger bash until one is 16 and the family rents the Queen Mary for a week.
Actually, I did have a 16th birthday party – self-given.  My dad left me “home alone” that weekend and I had a half-dozen pals (all male) over and we raided my dad’s grocery store which was connected to our house.
We loaded up on sandwiches of imported ham, stuff we usually couldn’t afford.  And, of course, beer, although he only sold two brands, Iroquois and Genesee.  Nowadays, I suppose, no one would come to a party with that selection. (Iroquois has since gone to its happy hunting ground and people usually say, “Genesee?”)
We were responsible and well-behaved and, when my dad returned, I doubt he even knew we had a party.
I’m writing because, although 13 seems a little young, if you are having “boy-girl-parties,” I guess it is time to talk to you about one of the more important things in life that you may not fully understand.
Baseball Caps.
I know you have a half-dozen caps, but our conversations indicate to me you may not totally understand the philosophy of caps.
There are three reasons to have caps:
One, and least important, to protect your (styled) hair from the wind or rain.
Two, to show allegiance to certain sports teams. Since you live in the Philadelphia suburbs, you are expected to have caps for the Phillies, 76ers, Flyers, etc.
That doesn’t mean they are necessarily your favorite teams – I know you like the Phoenix Suns – but it is politically wise to have caps of local teams available in case one of their players visits your school.
But the third and most important reason to have caps is to show your individuality. The goal here is to have a cap unlike anyone else. It sends a message.  Its distinctiveness shows you are independent, a free thinker. It also makes others who don’t have it jealous.
One of my favorite caps, for example, is my yellow and black Wichita State Shockers cap. My cousin Eric gave it to me. I can wear this cap and be sure that no one else will be wearing one. I was in heaven when the Shockers won their first two games in the NCAA Tournament.
Your cap collection will last as long as you do. When you are 70 or 80, many will sneer at you as being “inappropriate” if you wear a message tee shirt. But they will never complain if you are 100 and wear an Eagles cap.
You may have noticed cars, usually big cars, with three or four caps perfectly situated  in the back window, obscuring the driver’s view.  The driver is usually a geezer – a happy  geezer.
My cap collection totals nearly 100 and I am reducing it because the hat tree is ready to fall over. (It actually has five real hats on it.)
So, I am giving you first dibs on any caps you would like, with a few exceptions for sentimental value or because they were gifts.
Sportswise, I have seven Buffalo Bills caps and caps for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, Charlotte Hornets, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, LA Raiders, Harvard Lacrosse, the 96 Atlanta Olympics and the Black Yankees of the Negro League.
I have caps for Stone Harbor, Worthington Ohio, Alaska, the University of Toronto, Top-of-the-Line Kites, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, the Rehoboth Outlets and the Cherry Creek (New York) Fire Department.
Restaurant-wise, I have two from Katsinger’s Delicatessen in Columbus, Ohio, the Dry Dock (autographed by Bob Matthews), the Windrift, and Galway Bay in Annapolis, Md.
I have a Sand Barrens Golf Club cap although I don’t golf, but I do love breakfast there.
Caps I am sure you will not want are a pink! Yankees cap And one for Tammy Wynette’s Silver Anniversary.
Your parents probably won’t let you have my Stroh’s Beer cap.
I have a smoking cap collection which should be valuable when smoking becomes extinct: Winston, Marlboro Adventure Team, and Camel Cigarettes with Joe Camel on the front.
I have a law enforcement cap collection that consists of very official looking caps for the U.S. Secret Service and New Jersey State Police. (I am hopeful a Cape May County Prosecutor’s cap will show up in a brown paper bag some day.)
Two mystery caps include one that says Prevention League (I don’t know what it is preventing) and a railroad engineer-type cap with the years 1836-1996 on it.
Among caps I want to keep are my Middle Township Sewer Authority and Hydro Pest Control Service caps which I like to wear when the snooty tourists are here and see them wrinkle up their noses. My other attention getter is a cap from A.C. Kissling Co. Sauerkraut.
Also not available to you is my Puerto Vallarta cap, since it is my favorite place, and my We Check for 21 cap since I like to wear it in Mexico where it mystifies them because they  drink at any age.
Not available at any price is my “World’s Greatest Grandpa” cap.  You gave it to me.

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