If you want a pack of gum or smokes or a newspaper you go to the only places really left here in the suburbs; the cookie cutter ""7 Eleven"'s of the world. Anyone my age or there abouts can attest to the subtle charm of the corner Sweet Shoppe or Luncheonette. Hell, sometimes they were called both, and most of them did have both, that is a cashier counter and a long counter with stools.
So, after the 1st pack of the week I divided it up this way: 2 packs on Wednesday (Wednesday madness!) and the final pack on Saturday...then the week started fresh again. This cycle went on for quite a few years and I would sometimes go to different neighborhood stores on the off chance they had a better box of cards. At the store the packs were displayed in special display boxes from Topps. I NEVER took a pack off the top, I always dug down a bit to get a good one.
Base Ball cards were seasonal though, not to worry, Topps wasen't letting me off the hook that easy. They had all sorts of crap to collect. Monster cards, Mars Attacks, different TV show cards, Beatle cards (loved them) and one of the best during the Centennial years: Civil War Cards!
Out of all the stores, the Grove Street Sweet Shoppe in Montclair was my favorite. The Lord of the Manor was a kindly gentlemen known to us as Sir Harry Alfran (Lord knows what that name meant). To an 8 year old he was a towering giant of a man, with jet black hair, a good sized paunch, thick black frame glasses with a stub of a cigar butt clenched in his teeth, a yellowed white shirt open at the collar and rolled sloppily up to his elbows and mean as a bear with a lanced boil on his ass. You're feet barely crossed the threshold before the usual "What'll it be boys" slammed you in the face like a hot kiss on the end of a wet fist. The place smelled like old cigars (naturally) and was long and narrow with old tired cracked black and white checked linoleum floors. About half way down was the lunch counter, I may have gotten that far once in my life. Usually there were a couple of hobo looking guys sipping coffee and gnawing on some sort of burger or donut or who the hell knows. I cared about the front of the store. The first part of the counter was a glass case filled with all kinds of cigars (naturally squared) and then the open area with step down like shelves that contained boxes of cards and tubs of wax lips, wax soda bottles and fairly racist candies like Black Crows and Chocolate Babies. A squeaky old carousel filled with comics completed my little slice of heaven on earth and I could walk away contented with any sort of cards or comics.
The beginning of this base ball season I went out and looked for a pack of cards just for the hell of it...no where, no where at all...I searched online...no luck. Base ball cards are now in the realm of the dumb ass yuppie for-profit collectors... fuck 'em.