Got 'em Need 'em

Mike AllderContributor IJanuary 31, 2009

Flemington Road Public School was the school I attended grades four, five and six. I remember the librarian of our school an older narrow faced woman yet I do not remember her name. Her nephew though was Don Awrey who played defense for the Stanley Cup winning Big Bad Boston Bruins in the early seventies.


I would spend hours of my free time sitting in the library just looking at all the hockey books, dreaming of someday playing in the N.H.L. I would think our librarian was so lucky, she actually had a person in her family that played in the greatest league in the world that I could only dream of playing in. The librarian never made a big deal that her nephew was Don Awrey.


It was a big deal to me.


Our schoolyard games before school, at lunch time and during recess were what that most kids in Canada would play. My favorite was with hockey cards, got’em, need’em, got’em, got’em, need’em, try to collect the whole set, or I will die trying. I used to check off the cards I had on the cardboard checklist. I would trade or try to win the cards that I desperately needed. I had to have every card on that checklist checked off.


Winning needed cards meant flinging cards against a brick wall and trying to knock down the eight or ten cards that were leaning on an angle against the school wall about ten feet away. The game was called “knocksies”. The player to knock the last card down would win all the cards that were strewn on the ground.


That was by far the easiest way to increase a stack of cards for the winner. It was also the quickest way to make a stack much smaller for the loser. Another game was “farthies,” each player would fling a card against the wall and whoever cards corner was closest to the wall would win both cards. Needless, to say we only used all our traders for these school yard games.


I loved the flavor of chewing the stick of gum that came in the pack of cards for ten cents. At the end of season the stack of cards became worn and creased, so on the bike wheels with a clothes peg for a summer time of motorcycle sounding bike riding.


I actually remember the year when the player’s picture appeared on a TV set screen, the year was 1966 and it was Bobby Orr’s rookie year. I drew a mustache on my Orr cards and most likely would have many Orr rookie cards in that year. I attended a card show in the early nineties and the Bobby Orr rookie card was selling for over two thousand dollars.


Shit, if only I would have kept those cards from when I was a kid in grade school I would have a huge wad of cash today.


Card collecting was my favorite hobby I would literally take stacks in my suit pockets to the Kingdom Hall and secretly study every card. I would memorize everything about the player, his stats and weather the lace on his jersey was tied or open.


 I worshiped the players and always thought how great it would be to have your name and number stamped on the shaft of your stick like I saw on those cards. For me that was a sign of the big leagues when your last name was stamped right there on the shaft for everyone to see.


The smell of bubble gum always dominated the newer cards but after a week the smell was gone because of our daily handling of cards. Hockey cards were forbidden in school classrooms and on few occasions, the teacher confiscated my stack, she stored them in her desk until she felt like returning them.


Some years, packs of cards featured inserts like team logo stickers. This was my opportunity to study those logos and then try to recreate the logos by doodling on larger pieces of paper or the inside cover of my bible, much to my mother's dismay.


 I never was much of an artist but I used to love drawing team insignias.


My favorite was the blue Maple Leaf; it always turned out the same, off centered. It never mattered how hard I tried to be perfect, it never looked right. It just always seemed to look lopsided. 


I drew hundreds of blue leafs when I was a kid. I drew them everywhere. I always got trouble when I drew them in my bible then I would scribble a Dave Keon signature under the Leaf. It was not a real autograph but it would do until someday I would get a real Keon autograph. How I used to dream about getting autographs from not just Keon but all the Leafs, the whole team could sign my bible. Someday I would, but for the present, my only brush with the pros was that Don Awrey's aunt was our librarian.


My librarian.