“A rose by any added name would aroma as sweet.”
The Bard said it this way in “Romeo and Juliet,” but was he right? Names are powerful. Names are personal. Names beggarly something.
Collecting autographs has never been a amusement of mine. It is barefaced that there are association who adulation to aggregate signatures of celebrities – sports heroes, cine stars, singers, politicians. In some agency accepting the name on a allotment of paper, a baseball or a hat provides a abiding affiliation to that person. The name and the actuality autograph it are important.
There are aloof two names in my collection, and both are allusive to me. One is from a baseball amateur that few today will recall. In the backward 1950s and aboriginal ’60s, Bob Skinner was a larboard fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His No. 4 jersey is arresting in the photo of Bill Mazeroski as he gallops against home bowl afterwards hitting the acceptable home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.
Before best aloft leaguers were multimillionaires, they lived in average chic neighborhoods area they mowed their lawns in summer, raked leaves in the abatement and shoveled snow in the winter. One year during his time with the Pirates, Skinner and ancestors lived two houses abroad from my aunt and uncle in Verona, Pennsylvania, a suburb of the Steel City.
While visiting ancestors for a anniversary that year, a brace of my brothers and I became acquainted with Skinner’s boys and played with them. A preteen, I busted up my adventuresomeness one day and asked my new accompany if I could get an autograph from their dad.
A time was set for the afterward day, and Aunt Dory handed me a allotment of cardboard and pencil. We went to the advanced aperture and knocked. Skinner’s 6’4” anatomy rose aloft us, and I handed him the allotment of cardboard and the pencil which he acclimated to doodle his name afore handing it aback to my acknowledge you.
It’s been 60 years, but that cardboard resides in a box in the attic. I attending at it occasionally, achromatic autograph and all, to accomplish abiding it is still there. The name still agency something.
The added autograph is one I did not get in actuality but was accustomed as a gift. It’s of my golfing hero Arnold Palmer who I followed at the Masters while in aerial academy and beyond. One of my sons-in-law formed at the Augusta National Golf Club for the aggregation that provides caddy casework there. During the clash several years ago, he asked Arnie’s caddie if he could get an autograph to accord to me. It was a Christmas present that year.
While I did awning the Masters one year and met some acclaimed golfers – Gene Sarazen, Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw – I didn’t accept a adventitious to accommodated Arnie. The autograph on an Augusta National agenda is as abutting as I came.
That agenda with the arresting signature hangs in a anatomy on the bank abutting to a account that was additionally a gift. It is a ample atramentous and white photo of a active Arnie at the Masters signing an autograph for a youngster. It’s that photo, added than the autograph, that catches my absorption and piques my interest.
It was allegedly taken afore a convenance annular in 1963 or ’64, based on a alternation brand in the picture. Near the aboriginal tee, with doodle beneath his arm, Arnie is signing what appears to be the admission of a adolescent boy cutting a checkerboard shirt, golf hat topping his head.
Next to the lad is an earlier admirer who I booty to be the youngster’s grandfather. (This actuality a photo from added than bisected a aeon ago, I get to accomplish up a adventure about the characters.) Near them is a admirer with sunglasses who isn’t attractive in the administration of the golfer and the child.
In the centermost of the photo is a woman, additionally with shades to assure her eyes from the ablaze day. She has a brim and blouse, bendable alcohol in duke and a cardboard admission dangling from her waist as she watches the golfer and boy. To the far right, continuing abaft Arnie, is a middle-aged man with a Panama-style hat on his head, alternation brand added to his shirt.
When bodies appointment and see the photo on the wall, they generally ask if I am the adolescent boy accepting the signature from Arnie. That, of course, is not the case. Why again is that affected account so important to me? Why does the autograph abutting to it beggarly anything? And why do I acquisition the box in the attic every few years and audit a allotment of cardboard with the name of a career .277 hitter on it?
It’s because memories matter, aloof as names do. Even admitting I wasn’t in the photo, I did appear the Masters those years and followed Arnie as abundant as my adolescent legs would allow. I met Skinner for alone 30 abnormal at his advanced door, but it was an acclaimed moment for a youngster to accommodated a aloft alliance baseball player.
At the alpha of this, I said I don’t aggregate autographs. But I accept the signatures of classmates from inferior aerial through aerial academy in the account on a shelf in my office. Occasionally I deride through those and appearance the names accounting by accompany added than 50 years ago. It’s a affiliation to the accomplished as I browse the signatures and bethink that names do matter.
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