Some trading cards are out of bounds

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Outrage and enrage are strong words. One becomes enraged over an outrage. Not everyone agrees on what an outrage is in these days when dozens of them are described in the morning papers.

I experienced that semi-wild stage of rage a long time ago. Maybe about 80 years ago.

I've forgotten what precipitated my sister, Lillian, pushing me into a dark closet underneath the stairs, locking the door and leaving the room to avoid having to listen to my screeching yells. It was a too-early introduction to claustrophobia.

The longer I stayed in that dark closet, with apparently everyone else gone, the madder I got. Finally, after what seemed like three days and nights, but probably only 10 minutes, the door was opened and I sprang out like a mad tiger, ready to do harm. I went straight after Lillian for a general slapping and hair pulling. I'll never forget the fear I saw in Lillian's eyes. It took the rest of the family to calm things down.

Now, these many years later, I'm building up a societal rage. Somewhere a man is publishing trading cards, picturing all, or as many as he could get, of those who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. The cards appear to be about the same size as the baseball trading cards which are so popular with baseball enthusiasts. The publisher of these obscene cards says, "If you pay more than $2.50, that's too much."

I say the whole endeavor is too much -- making money on someone else's grief and misfortune.

But, before I vent all my rage, let me confess that I participated, in some tangential way, in a like endeavor.

Before I had learned to read, some enterprising publisher brought out a softcover book entitled "The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and The Great Chicago Theater Disaster." I think the book was a bonus from some tea company. I don't know what the qualifications were to receive one. Maybe just to be a "resident" on the mail route. One day it just appeared in our rural mailbox. It made my sister, Lou, and me happy because books of any kind were scarce at our early home. This book had not only stories but hundreds of pictures of those who died in the disasters.

Like so many youngsters of my age then and still of that age now, I had a photographic memory of what I had seen on a printed page. If someone could supply the name of who or what it was, I could thereafter identify who it was and supply the name. This isn't nearly as rare as it might sound. The only thing rare about it was that, in due time, I could go all the way through the book with its hundreds of pictures and identify each deceased person.

Isn't that somehow akin to the publisher selling the trading cards of those who perished at the World Trade Center? I feel guilty of something.

I think I've a handle on my mounting rage concerning these new types of trading cards. But, should someone stop me somewhere and whisper, "I'll give you two cards of dead firefighters for one of somebody jumping from a 75th-floor window," my rage might reach a critical mass. Even though I'm seeing- and hearing-challenged, have rickety legs and a cane, I might go after him/her with the same fury I directed at Lillian. That would be an outrage, an outrage being attended to by an enraged, though perhaps flawed, member of society.


Jean Bell Mosley is an author and longtime resident of Cape Girardeau.

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