I poked the screwdriver under the carpet tack strip, tapped it with a hammer and popped it loose. I don’t know if the home flippers on TV approve of my method, but I make do with what few tools and little knowledge I have.
Out into the dust of where carpet used to be slipped a treasure hidden behind the baseboard for decades, if one considers a 1966 football card featuring a photo of a crewcutted Atlanta Falcons guard named Dan Grimm a treasure. I happen to, because I knew I was going to get a story out of it. Some weeks, that’s as good as gold.
Let’s back up just a bit. I found myself in this former mill village home after answering in the affirmative to a question I thought was about “nude modeling.” Unfortunately, I misheard and ended up an inadvertent volunteer for “remodeling.”
I instantly regretted standing so close to a speaker at a Foghat concert in 1981 and made a mental note to schedule a hearing exam.
The house is in a neighborhood that was teeming with activity for decades, kids swimming in the pool at the rec center, scooping up grounders on the ball field and shooting hoops on the outdoor court. That was when the cotton mill was running day and night. Most of that went away when the cotton mill stopped running at all.
There were some hard times after that, but now things are looking up. There’s an active community forum that plants a garden in the spring and advocates for the same services and resources that seem to come a little bit easier in other parts of town.
This house where I stood and looked at that old football card that fell from behind the baseboard has been there for all of that and remains in excellent condition, only a little dated as all of our homes will likely be if we are lucky enough to stay there in comfort as time goes by.
Generations were born and raised in the house and eventually the matriarch of the family passed on. The new owner will take good care of it, even if her choice of hard-of-hearing handymen is suspect.
“Well, look at this,” I said. “It’s a Dan Grimm football card.”
“Who is Dan Grimm?”
“Beats me, but I’m going to find out because I’m tired of ripping up carpet tack strips and we’re out of beer.”
Dan Grimm, I learned from various online sources as well as information on the back of his card, was born February, 7, 1941 in Perry, Iowa. He earned three letters at the University of Colorado, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers as their fifth choice in 1963 and later played for the Falcons (which explains why he appears on his card as a Falcons player while wearing what is obviously a Packers uniform), the Colts and the Redskins.
He died on May 3, 2018, at the age of 77 in Lincoln County, N.C., 1,000 miles from where he was born but just 60 miles from the house where his 1966 football card slipped out from beneath a baseboard one evening.
I didn’t find out much about his later life in the quick digging I did. I don’t know if he ever used a screwdriver and a hammer to take up carpet tack strips, but I do know he must have knocked some defensive linemen on their butts every now and then in his heyday, he rocked that crewcut in ’66 and a kid in a mill village in North Carolina opened a pack of football cards one day and there he was.
And 50-odd years later, some guy found that card when it fell on to a dusty floor after he mistakenly agreed to manual labor due to rock ‘n’ roll-related hearing loss. Then he wrote a story about it. Maybe it’s not a great story, but it’s a mostly true one.