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How could I lose all those autographs? Gordie Howe and the entire Maple Leaf Cup team

Back in 1962, I was 9 years old and a huge fan of the Maple Leafs.

My oldest sister was a stewardess (nowadays called “flight attendants”) with TransCanada Airlines, the forerunner to Air Canada.  On occasion she would come across famous people in her travels.  (I seem to recall a wonderful picture of her with the very popular actor Gregory Peck.)

But much more of interest to me in those days was when she would encounter hockey players.  She was on a flight with Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower one time.  The two great NHL’ers and western Canadian boys were fishing buddies, so I’m guessing she met them on a flight out to western Canada one summer in the early 1960s.  In any event, she asked for—and received—personalized autographs for me from both future Hall-of-Famers. (They each signed one of those great old posed pictures that the team would have supplied them with for just such an occasion…I've included a neat old photo above of Howe and Bower in action in the NHL All-Star game from probably October of 1963.)

I held on to those for years and years, yet, somehow, over the past decade or so, they’re just….gone—nowhere to be found.

But the big coup (this was huge) was the time she was on a flight with the entire Maple Leaf team in 1962, the year the Leafs began their run of four Stanley Cups in only six seasons.

On a single piece of paper, she was able to garner the autographs of the entire team— Mahovlich, Keon, Armstrong, Imlach (the coach and GM), everyone.  Great stuff.  I was so excited when she gave it to me.

I know I must have kept the piece of paper in some special spot.  I say this because the spot was so special, at some point thereafter I was never able to locate that piece of paper again.

It is a tremendous memory (and a bit painful).  I’m sure there would be some monetary value in such an item today in the world of memorabilia.  Mostly, it would just be really nice to have, this many years later.

I have to believe (I want to believe!) I’m not the only guy this sort of thing has happened to.  (My fault, for sure, but I’m guessing I’m not completely alone.)

If you’ve ever had this kind of experience, send your memories along (even if you’ve been wise enough to hold on to those treasured autographs…)

But I’m still hoping some of you will acknowledge you messed up, too!


  1. I collected 7 Gretzky rookie cards and had one signed on a memorable night in detroit. then i went away to university and work. somehow my collection "became" my brothers and he has them still. gonna be some discussion about that before i die thats for sure.

  2. i spent a lot of my childhood collecting autographs by writing to athletes... that's how i learned to type proficiently. i always felt a special connection to those players who responded to the letters (and couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed about those who didn't). felix potvin and the blue jays' joe carter were my crown jewels.

  3. I met Gordie Howe last year at a Leafs game in Ottawa and got his autograph. Felt really nervous just shaking the man's hand.

  4. I collected hockey cards, coins, bottle tops, Post cereal hockey and football cards, complete sets of baseball cards , CFL cards. I did this from 1959-1968. Our moved family moved accross Canada in January 1968, and, my entire collection was MIA. I kept it in a "steamer trunk" back in those days. That collection would be worth thousands of dollars today. I would have never sold it ,but, to this day, I still lament that great collection of all the stars from that era.

  5. Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. I wish more people had been able to respond! It's great when we are able to hold on to a memory, and nice when we can can also hold on to an autograph or picture or some memento.

    At the same time, many of us have managed to lose, misplace or simply had our stuff appropriated by a family member! It's good to share our frustrations, too...