Saturday, March 21, 2009

Junk Drawer: Pro Sports Lunchbox

Click both pics for 1200x900 versions

I started collecting lunch boxes in the early 80s; they were an easy, cheap chunk of fun at the local thrift stores, rarely costing more than $1. At one point I had about 40 of them, and this was before the big lunch box collecting craze hit. When the totally artificial prices in the lunch box collecting bubble crested in the early 90s, I was way broke and cashed in on dozens of them, fetching ridiculous prices for substandard-condition boxes at a trendy consignment shop in downtown San Diego. I'm glad I did! I got a lot more for them back then than I ever could on eBay now.

There's a metaphor in there somewhere. I don't know; it eludes me.

But! I did save some of my favorite boxes, and all of them are filled up with junk. The one seen above is one of the saddest, and therefore greatest, ones in my collection, an embarrassingly generic "pro sports" theme. It's very Pee Chee folder, no? In its own clumsy way, it's more interesting and more pathetically charming than a Kiss or Partridge Family lunchbox (we'll get to those later).

Somewhere along the line, this box accumulated a classic junk-drawer-type mix of stuff. A lot of it is from high school and even earlier, some souvenirs and some random, worthless crap from college, etc. I can also be literally truthful when I say that this box holds a little part of me. Actually, it holds several little parts of me:

Here's what's in it:
  1. Souvenirs from my my father's trip to Australia and New Zealand UPDATE: and Korea, see comments. Early 80s? Includes volcanic rock tiki statuette and clip-on koala bears wearing airline logo t-shirts.
  2. Miniature Steiff hedgehog.
  3. High school souvenirs: Punk rock wristband! Can no longer snap! 1982 "Arizona Allstate Music Festival" embroidered patch. Hand-made button for "Muffy and the Topsiders" gag talent-show punk band.
  4. Roll of yellow tape that says "radioactive material."
  5. Rainbow air fresheners emblazoned with "I HEART BIG JUGS."
  6. Antique tin box containing Irish beach stone.
  7. Two small plastic boxes each containing four baby teeth.
  8. Sea shells, wooden nickels, a piece of tiger's eye.
  9. Monopoly cards and playing pieces.
  10. Pack of miniature playing cards in a leather case.
  11. Miniature wind-up plastic fan.
  12. WMAQ NBC TV Chicago button.
  13. Dymo label maker (loaded!).
  14. Small American flag.
  15. Empty Wacky Packages wrappers.
  16. Check dated 03-20-1992 from the US Treasury for $1.00.
  17. Thingmaker bugs! I know I speak for each and every one of my siblings when I gaze lovingly at the burn scars on my hands and know that these are important family heirlooms.


Anonymous said...

Oooh!Thingmaker bugs! I had a Thingmaker too. Do you remember you could get a candy goo that would cook into edible gummy bugs?

Ironically, the only lunchbox still in my house is my daughters old My Little Pony lunchbox filled with....My Little Ponies!

aka sleepyinsaudi

Lulu Maude said...

Oooh. I wanna come over and play. We could spend many happy hours together.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I so wanna steal this idea but my digital camera is missing somewhere in the rubble of my collections*.

*of clothes, piled all over the place

Matty Boy said...

The baseball, basketball and soccer players have very shaggy 1970s haircuts. Wonderfully era specific.

Nixie Bunny said...

Ooh! I remember using that RADIOACTIVE tape in San Diego when I was working at the horrible computer company. I stuck some on a big Sun monitor and it went kablooey 15 minutes later. Highly effective!

Atoz said...

I'm thinking the basketball player really wants to be Larry Bird.

And I had one of those clip-on koalas from *my* dad's trip to Australia -- 1983 or 1984, I think. Every guilt-ridden dad who took a trip to Oz must have brought those back for his kids.

Smapdi said...

The glyphs on the mid to late century food containment box clearly predict the rise of both Sarah Palin and her non-son-in-law Levi Johnston.


Major Mel Funkshun said...

I had an A-TEAM lunch box, which I took to work every day at the defense plant. I was called "The guy with the A-TEAM lunch box" and everyone knew me.

Fran said...

The thing that strikes me about the sports lunchbox is the blatant lack of brand name whoring.
Most pro sports people are *branded*.... let's say NIKE swoosh marks at every vantage point.... shoes,socks, jersey,shorts, helmet- every piece of equipment- maybe they even require a logo tatoo on the ass of each player?

This historic relic is pre sports mega merchandising era. Wow! They look so generic & bare!

Anonymous said...

I had a "junior nurse" lunchbox. It came with a matching thermos. It was supposed to make little girls long to grow up and enter a profession that would require them to work horrifyingly long hours, get abused by doctors, have bedpans spilled all over them, and make snap life-and-death decisions in the midst of total chaos. (I resisted.) Once my dad's thermos broke and he had to borrow my "junior nurse" thermos to take to work — to school, actually, since he was a teacher and then an administrator. I always wondered why he didn't get promoted to principal for all those years...

wrkrcoop said...

Hi, Princess,

That "tiki statuette" is actually from the Korean island of Cheju, and is called a "harubang" or "dol-harubang." The shape is unmistakable, and I have one of my own. They are fertility/virility symbols--just check out the phallic shape!

Here is a link with some further info/examples.