Johnny Bower was at my Sobey’s this weekend. It’s always fun to see him out and about because he’s always got a smile on his face and he’s always gracious to the people who approach him to say hello. It’s like happening upon Santa in the dairy aisle. It can’t help but make your day a little better.
Earlier this year (I think it was about May), I saw a poster in our local Tim’s that Johnny would be doing an autograph session. When the day came, I took off work early so that I could take my eldest boy to meet him. I found a ’69-70 Bower card in decent enough shape that he could keep in his card binder if we got it signed.
As I picked him up from his bus, I told him we had someplace special to go. We stopped at home for a minute to drop his things. Everyone wanted to know where we were going. I told them that Johnny Bower was three blocks away and was signing autographs. I didn’t expect anyone else to be particularly interested, but my daughter (age 5) suddenly announced, “HEY! I like hockey!” (ed. note: Really?) and my three-year-old looked like he’d cry if left behind, so we all piled in.
We got to Tim’s while I gave the 30-second lesson as to who Johnny Bower was, walked in the door and there he was – white Leafs sweater on, Leafs ball cap, signing pictures (probably could have got the card signed, but given that I now needed three things instead of one, I thought these were better). This was a paid session with proceeds going to the pension fund, so we paid for three pictures and went to meet Johnny.
Johnny, as always, was awesome, talked to each of the kids and posed for a picture with the lot of us. As we were leaving, he asked if anyone wanted a high-five. The two older kids got a case of the shys and buried their heads in their chests. My three-year-old, however, went right up to Johnny, reared back and WHAMMO! High-fived him with everything he had. (Remember – Johnny’s 88.) “Whoa!” says Johnny, laughing. “Keep cheering for those Maple Leafs!”
As we were leaving, my older boy looked at the picture and asked who the other player was. “That’s Tim Horton,” I said. They thought going to Tim Horton’s and getting a signed picture with Johnny and Tim Horton in it was a pretty cool thing.
We went home.
Once there, the older two scuttled off with their treasures while my eldest daughter (age 9) looked like she’d decided it might have been worth coming after all. My three-year-old and I sat down on the couch.
“Dada,” he said, “you didn’t get a hockey card.”
“That’s OK,” I said, “I just wanted for you guys. I don’t need one.”
He patted me on the leg. “That’s OK, dada. I’ll share mine with you.”
I gave him a hug. We decided that his picture could go on the fridge where everyone could enjoy it. It’s still there.