If you’ve never been kept awake at night by thoughts of insignificant things that have taken up seemingly permanent residence in your mind, you’re lucky.

I had such a sleepless night last week.

It began when memories flooded my mind of days spent growing up in Duncombe and Alleman, the first two times my parents had ever lived “in town.” Sure. I still have some great memories of life in the country, but when we actually lived in those small towns, far more opportunities presented themselves to the young boys and girls living there.

On the farm, of course, I had my dog – a mutt I’d named “Perky Pete” – to walk by my side. Together, Pete and I, investigated every corner of the property surrounding the four-square house in which we lived. It was at the top of a hill above historic Vegor’s Cemetery north of Stratford. The trips we made around the old farmhouse were, of course, constrained by tall corn surrounding the yard on three sides and a gravel road to the west.

In town, there were boys my own age. Several young friends and I spent many hours together in Duncombe and it was there, early in 1953, I learned of the then-popular ritual of the “May Basket.” A girl in town came to our door, knocked loudly, then ran away and hid. She didn’t run far, though, and didn’t hide very well, either.

I found her quickly and she said, “Oh, Billy, you found me. Now you have to kiss me.”

Petrified and my face turning a crimson red, the only thing I could think of and blurt out was, “But, you’re a girl!”

She stood there grinning at me. I turned and ran back into the house.

After I told my parents about the encounter, they explained a few things to me, and when I saw that same little girl a couple weeks later, we held hands walking across the schoolyard. “Gimme a kiss,” I said to her, expecting a blissful schoolyard moment.

“No!” she sternly said to me. “You’ve got a runny nose.”

Oh, the pitfalls of a 9-year-old.

That fall, we moved away, taking up residence in the even-smaller town of Alleman.

If I had any ideas that I’d be able, finally, to fall into much-needed sleep, I was sorely mistaken.

In 1953, you could purchase just about anything you might need for your home. There was a Chevrolet dealer – Joel Johnson Chevrolet – but the business closed at about the same time my family moved there. Still, there was a hardware store, a grocery store/locker, Bessie’s Café, and a railroad that brought a train through town once or twice a week.

And, right across the street from our first house in Alleman was a run-down one car garage that housed Petefish Motors. I never saw any Packard or Studebaker cars there, although that’s what old man Petefish supposedly dealt.

I still vividly remember the old man sitting in the doorway of that garage, rocking hour after hour, day after day.

The long-gone Alleman Implement Co. took over the building that once housed the larger auto dealership. When Lloyd Fleming opened a repair shop in that building, the implement company moved into the old Ward Hardware Store.

Soon, the grocery store and locker closed (one of the worst jobs I ever had growing up was my once-a-year task of knocking frost off every freezer pipe in the locker).

After Bessie and Fritz Culp passed away, the café remained open. It’s now closed. The old train depot was moved from its spot next to the tracks. Merv and Ruth Alleman, who lived on a farm just north and next to the rails, moved the depot and it became Ruth’s Flower Shop.

My sleepless night continued as I remembered all those former places of business in Alleman, especially “Bessie’s Café.” Really, it was the B&F Café (for Bessie and Fritz), but Fritz was never around so we just called it Bessie’s. It was there we spent our weekly allowance money on baseball cards, and I still have those cards from 1955 and 1956.

It became even harder to fall into slumber then as I remembered the excitement each time I’d unwrap a card displaying a Brooklyn Dodgers player. I really didn’t care about the New York Yankee cards I opened, even when I unexpectedly opened a Mickey Mantle 1956 card.

Yup, I was an idiot of the first degree; I sold that Mantle card about 30 years ago for $60. It’s worth a whole lot more now.

Lamenting my stupidity over selling the Mantle card finally brought me back to my senses.

I closed my eyes and dropped off into sleep.

When I awoke in the morning, though, I found myself drawn to the boxes of baseball cards I protect so diligently. I couldn’t understand why I was drawn to the older cards, and I had no idea why I looked through them closely, checking over all my 1956 cards.

There were cards of Larsen, Schoendienst, Campanella, Reese, Robinson and Banks. I also found Kluszewski, Clemente, Face, Boyer, Berra and Richardson. I thumbed through and found Rush, Fox, Mays, Vernon and Musial.

But, nowhere (sigh) in my vast collection was there a Mickey Mantle card.

Bill Haglund is a retired writer for the Boone News Republican and Dallas County News. He can be reached at Bhaglund13@msn.com.