Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Friend's signature item joins a slew of treasures

The arrival of the mail each morning is an occasion that generates great excitement and breathless anticipation, because one never knows what the mailman might bring.

The daily event is something of a Roman Carnival at our house. The arrival of Dave, our mailman (I suppose in the looney world of the politically correct he would be called a “mailperson”) creates more excitement than he dreams exists, because it elicits an uproar of barking by our two darling puppies, Maggie and Tricia. They can probably be heard for blocks around.

We dare not verbally announce his coming. Either word, “mailman” or “Dave,” will set off the hub-bub, because the dogs understand English. They haven’t learned to spell yet, however, and that allows us an escape from the din.

As long as they don’t look out the window and see his truck on the street, we can spell either word and fool them — for now.

But I expect they will soon be learning to spell, and we will then have to come up with code words to announce the arrival of the mail – virtually all of which is worthless.

But that is another story for another day. If all of our junk mail were shredded and dumped out of an office window on Euclid Avenue in Downtown Cleveland, the perplexed natives would probably think the Indians had won the World Series.

Relax, folks. That’s not going to happen for another six months.

Speaking of mail (I think that’s what launched me into this topic), I got an interesting letter the other day from Pat Rickman, who lives with her husband, Al, in Latham, N.Y., which is a suburb of Albany.

They are regular readers of this column. In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that they are the parents of Bill, who is the boyfriend of my granddaughter, Destiny.

They often come to Willoughby around Christmas, and we have had many interesting conversations around the wassail bowl.

Well, there really isn’t a wassail bowl. I made that up. But through the art of conversation, we have discovered many of each others’ interests.

Pat knows, for example, of my obsession with music. But she knows so much about my other interests that I suspect she learned some of them from reading these essays.

Her note arrived not at our abode, but at the newspaper, but no difference. Her message was about singer Rudy Vallee, a crooner of whom I am sure you have heard, especially if you are in your golden years.

I am not sure what golden years are, but I think they come when you are, as “Auntie Mame” said, somewhere between 40 and death.

“In the summer of 1965,” Pat wrote, “I was visiting a friend in Marblehead, MA.”

Now, I remember that summer very well. It was the summer when folks of a conservative stripe were driving around with bumper stickers that read, “27 million Americans can’t be wrong.”

Those were folks who voted for Goldwater the previous November. Problem was, LBJ got way more votes than that.

But I digress.

“Her folks,” Pat continued, “were going to go to a nightclub in Revere Beach to see Rudy Vallee. As they left I said, ‘Get his autograph.’  The next morning I was given the enclosed.”

What was enclosed was a piece of yellow paper, about two inches square. On it was some writing with a black Magic Marker, or some other dark medium. It looks as if it says “Rz Valty.” Pat assures me it is an authentic autograph of Rudy Vallee, the crooner of legend in the days of radio.

“A couple of days ago,” Pat wrote, “while looking for something in our file box, Al found it. We are giving it to you because we know you enjoy older movies and music.

“Feel free to give it away or throw it out if you don’t want it.”

Well, I’m certainly not going to throw it out. I will store it with my other autographs. I have about five. I have baseballs autographed by Bob Feller, Mike Hargrove and Pete Rose. My son-in-law, Dan, a stagehand in Cleveland, got that one when Rose, of whom I am no great fan, was in town making a movie.

I have Earl Averill, with his fingers bandaged after a July Fourth firecracker went off in his hand, and Carlos Baerga, who signed the ticket stub from the game in which he hit home runs batting left-handed and right-handed in the same inning.

So I will gladly add Rudy Vallee to my “collection.” Unless, of course, someone wants to bid on it, in which event I will give the proceeds to the Fine Arts Association, which held its annual fund-raiser gala Friday night.

We rode there with Frank and Karen Manning because he knows the way to LaMalfa better than I do (I go there only two or three times a week.)

I should have taken my Rudy Vallee autograph with me. It might have gotten some action in the silent auction.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're glad Rudy's autograph has found a loving home! Al and Pat

May 17, 2013 at 5:59 PM 

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