As a girl growing up with a younger brother in Southern Ontario (and two young male friends that lived nearby who we played with), I definitely wasn’t a “girly-girl.” I rode bikes, played cops and robbers, rolled oil barrels across the back yard with my feet, kicked a soccer ball around, threw (and caught) baseballs, and played floor hockey. I also had a pretty respectable collection of hockey cards, which I would ”pitch” at school to win more. My favourite hockey players when I was a kid were Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson (because they were “cute”…maybe I was a little bit girly)…my team was the Boston Bruins! My brother was a Montreal Canadians fan (poor, misguided soul). I would have played league hockey if I’d been able to skate and my parents could have afforded the equipment!
By the time I was a teenager, my love of hockey had cooled somewhat. But then Wayne Gretzky came along! Before he owned the Los Angeles Kings, he was part owner of the Belleville Bulls, our local Junior B hockey team. And we just happened to live right across the road from the other co-owner! Of course, Wayne would come over to socialize with his business partner, and I would be happy to get any glimpse I could of my teenage crush (even if it required binoculars to see down the incredibly long driveway…can you say stalker?)! He was six months older than I was…I planned to marry him!
One day, I found out that Wayne would be signing autographs at the Quinte Sports Centre, the arena where the Bulls played. I borrowed my mom’s Pentax camera which was equipped with a zoom lens (she was a professional photographer) and got her to drive me into town. I took my place in the long lineup, rehearsing what I would say to my future husband as I shot picture after picture of him.
Finally, there were only two people between me and my skate boy…that’s when his handler announced to the unfortunate people still in the lineup that there wouldn’t be any more autographs signed that day.
It took me a while to get over Wayne…five years later, I married a radio guy who was an excellent golfer but didn’t play hockey! Fifteen years after that, my husband and I were separated, but by then, Wayne had married that Janet girl…wonder what he saw in her?
Happy 50th, Wayne!
*Sorry for the photo quality…these are pictures of pictures!