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Memorabilia Collecting Experiences in Detroit during the 1950s

by Jack CrossRecently Rodger asked me if I still had any of my hockey autographs and pictures from my boyhood years and if so, would I copy and send them on to him for The Capital Power Play. He also asked if I would write a short piece about how he and I collected these items back in Detroit when we were youngsters living in the same neighborhood.Back in 1950 I began by at first collecting just baseball cards and later football cards. About 1953 Rodger introduced me to writing to the players to request their autographs either on gum cards or asking a player to send a signed postcard. After the football season had ended, we started writing to the hockey players (especially the Red Wings) to keep our interest going before baseball started back up in the spring. This is how I came to have these hockey players which are posted on the site. Jack Adams was then the GM of the Red Wings and he was very accommodating. I would send him a sheet of typing paper with the title of the RED WINGS at the top and he would get all the players to sign it. I would then paste as many pictures that I could find of the players whose signatures were on this sheet. We used to also get autographs of the players outside of their locker rooms when they would come out to board a team bus. It was great fun and I still enjoy looking through my collection today. I hope you might also find it a bit interesting to see these old time pictures yourself.I’ll add a bit of an addendum here to explain my entire collection. In 1972 Rodger paid me a visit from his home in Sterling Virginia to my current home of Dallas. We talked about old times and he rekindled my interest in again collecting cards and autographs of the current players. I did this for about three or four years before I gave it up. Collecting became more of a business rather than a hobby and players started charging for their autographs. People were always asking what something was worth. The fun of collecting became less, so I just quit. I retired in 1999 and with the extra time I had, I started to organize my entire collection. I separated all the sports: baseball, football and hockey and within each sport I further separated each team in to albums. So, in hockey I separated the six NHL teams of that time: the Red Wings, the Bruins, the Blackhawks, the Rangers, the Maple Leafs and the Canadians. Since I didn’t have that much hockey material, I could fit it all into one album Today I still get pleasure out of perusing through my collection and thinking back to all the fun we each had.

April 4, 2010 - 8:03 pm

Phil Walenga - Wow, this is a great site. Congratulations on your work. I love the old cards and the layout of this site. Since we moved from Northern VA back home to Michigan, I have been enjoying the Wings. I look forward to a possible rematch with Caps (remember 98′), especially since the Wings are on a hot streak! When we lived in Northern VA. I took my sons to a game or so, way up in the balcony, but it was still great fun! Good luck Roger and Tom!! Let’s Go Red Wings, Let’s Go Red Wings,….

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